McLaren Hospital in Petoskey Will Begin Rural Training for Family Practitioner Residents

The largest hospital in northern Michigan without a training program is about to add one.

CEO of McLaren Health Care Todd Burch said they’ll be transitioning their Petoskey location from a community hospital to a teaching hospital.

Todd Sheperd M.D. will help run the training program, and is excited to bring it to northern Michigan.

“My role will be overseeing the residents and their educational activities,” said Sheperd. “Working with other physicians in town, we will be using multiple specialists in town to create a learning environment so they can be be prepared to practice in a rural setting when they’re done.”

The hospital will allow two students every year after they do one year in Flint, giving them experience in a larger practice before coming north.

The hope is the experience they receive will encourage them to stay in northern Michigan where there aren’t many family practitioners.

“About 20 percent of Michiganders live in rural areas and only about 5 to 10 percent of family physicians actually practice in those areas,” said Sheperd. “So there is a significant need. There is an access to care issue that we’re trying to address by having training program here.”

“As a whole we have a difficult time with all health discipline and recruiting to rural areas as more and more people are attracted to bigger practices and health care facilities,” said Brent Lafaive, Dean of Nursing for North Central Michigan College.

Not only will the new program not affect normal operations at the hospital, it will also benefit those working there.

“Having a graduate medical education in a residency type program really helps the staff, the physicians, and other members of our staff including nurse practitioners, nurses assistants and nurses as well,” Sheperd said.

McLaren is expected to announce their first two residents later this month.