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### ThedaCare Neenah Hospital Launching Graduate Medical Program

ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah will house ThedaCare’s new graduate medical education program.

NEENAH – Neenah is set to become the hub for the Fox Valley’s upcoming residency program tailored for aspiring physicians within the next few years. This initiative is poised to establish itself as a prominent graduate medical education (GME) program in the northeastern region.

While the health system is currently undergoing the accreditation process, it aims to pair residents in the coming year.

Here’s a breakdown of the program:

Understanding GME Programs

A GME program, also referred to as residency training, serves as the subsequent phase for medical graduates upon receiving their M.D. or D.O. degree. This process encompasses internship, residency, fellowships, and specialized training programs.

Upon completing their training, individuals can attain board certification and commence their medical practice.

Hospitals administering these programs must obtain accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Pioneering Multidisciplinary GME Program in Northeastern Wisconsin

ThedaCare initially disclosed its intent to establish a graduate medical education program as part of the Neenah hospital renovation in 2021. The infrastructure was revamped, and Dr. Christopher Stenberg was appointed as the [ppp1] in September.

For the academic year 2023-24, there are a total of 90 accredited GME specialty programs statewide catering to 1,819 residents, as per the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education data. Stenberg expressed ThedaCare’s ambition to augment the range of specialty programs by 10%.

ThedaCare’s program is set to pioneer as the first multidisciplinary GME initiative in northeastern Wisconsin, offering a spectrum of specialties.

The Medical College of Wisconsin Green Bay campus and the [ppp2] in Appleton, which will be integrated into ThedaCare’s program, both provide distinct specialties to aspiring physicians.

ThedaCare’s strategy includes establishing at least four distinct residencies in family medicine, internal medicine, surgery, and psychiatry. The internal medicine and surgery residencies will be rolled out initially, followed by the introduction of additional specialties within the program, Stenberg confirmed.

Inaugural Residents Expected in 2026

Stenberg outlined ThedaCare’s timeline to onboard the first cohort of residents in 2026, with recruitment slated for fall 2025.

Upon full implementation of the program, the health system envisions accommodating approximately 80 residents annually, Stenberg revealed.

The inaugural class is anticipated to graduate as early as 2029.

Addressing Physician Shortages through GME Programs

A forecast by the Wisconsin Council on Medical Education and Workforce projects a requirement for 20,201 physicians in Wisconsin by 2035, indicating a shortfall of about 2,340 compared to the existing workforce.

In Brown and Outagamie counties, there is an anticipated shortage of physicians by 2035.

To bridge the gap of over 2,000 physicians by 2030 and align with demand, the state should ideally integrate around 100 physicians annually, as per the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians.

Stenberg emphasized the pivotal role of GME programs in attracting and retaining physicians, as individuals are more inclined to practice within the vicinity where they completed their residencies. Statistics from the Wisconsin Hospital Association indicate that approximately [ppp3] who pursued both medical school and GME training in Wisconsin opt to continue their practice within the state.

“They represent the future workforce,” Stenberg remarked. “Upon their arrival, they forge strong community bonds and are driven to make a meaningful impact in the areas they serve.”


Benita Mathew, a health reporter for the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. Reach out to her at [email protected].