#SaveToledoFM - Katie's Story

In a previous post, I reported the impending closure of the Toledo Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program which will have huge implications in the delivery of primary care and Family Medicine in that community.

Katie Karhoff, DO is a recent graduate of the program. She reached out to me to share her perspective as an alum. My questions are in bold below. Here is Katie's story, in her own words...

1) My first question is about Family Medicine in general. How did you come to choose Family Medicine as your specialty and residency? Why do you love Family Medicine, and why is Family Medicine care important to the Toledo community?

I chose Family Medicine so I could be involved in all aspects of patient's care and could care for them across the lifespan. I didn't want to focus on just one area because to me the whole person was important. I love the personal connection I have with my patients and now that I've been an attending for 3+ years, I have really gotten to know my patients and it's almost like seeing a friend when they come in for a visit. I love that I have sometimes three generations of families that I care for. I love that they refer to me as "their doctor." As whole, the WWKnight residency plays a huge impact in Toledo. We would often care for people who might not have primary care otherwise, and I can only see a negative if the program is closed.

2) Tell me (and my audience) about how you learned about the closure of the program?

I learned the news through a Facebook post of another graduate of the program. I am a 2013 grad of the program.

3) What has been the reaction to the announcement from the residents and the faculty at the program?

I'm still friends with a lot of the staff, and I know they are heartbroken. Some have worked there for many years and have cared for the same patients for quite a while. The whole program is like a family and to close it would be devastating.

4) In your opinion, why is it important for the Toledo Hospital (WWKnight) Family Medicine Residency Program to remain open?

The program focuses on training competent, well rounded Family Physicians. Coming out of residency, I felt very equipped to handle so much on my own. We get a great breadth of educational training at a tertiary care center, and can take this knowledge to smaller towns that way, we don't always have to send our patients elsewhere. As I stated above, the community that the residents care for might not have access to primary care otherwise, so they provide much needed care. Many of our grads stay in the Northwest Ohio region, so if the residency would close, I'm not sure you would still see that same statistic. With a shortage of primary care physicians, we need to keep the caliber of doctors in the state.

5) What kind of response would you like to see generated from the local community, the residency program alumni, and the Family Medicine community in general?

As an alum, I was heartbroken to hear of the closing. Being established for over 40 years, I have never thought a program of that caliber would be closed down. It was a highly sought after residency and we had so many applicants each year and had no problem filling the spots for each class. I have nothing but respect for the attendings I trained under and still keep in contact with many of them. I really feel like my education was top of the line and think it would be a shame for this program to no longer exist. I really hope that all of our efforts can raise awareness and perhaps a better outcome will happen for this amazing program.