Family residency program marks 40 years in operation

Andrew Jones

A family medicine residency program that’s long brought doctors to Mesa County marked 40 years in operation.

Since the first class graduated in 1979, the program at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction has accounted for about half of the primary care physicians practicing in Mesa County.

“At a time when doctor shortages are plaguing the nation, particularly in rural areas, the program plays a vital role in health care accessibility and economic development,” said Dr. Andrew Jones, chief medical officer at St. Mary’s. “The program is a major driver for the health care work force in the region.”

Residents receive clinical training and care for patients not only at the family medicine clinic and St. Mary’s in Grand Junction, but also in rural areas throughout Western Colorado.

The 26 doctors currently going through the three-year program cared for a total of  35,500 patients last year. About 75 percent of the graduates stay in the area to practice, Jones said. “Most doctors tend to put down roots and stay in the towns where they attend residency. If we didn’t have this residency, the doctor shortage in Mesa County and the surrounding areas would be that much worse.”