Your Health Center is Missing Out by Not Hosting Residents – Here’s Why

For most of us, Fall is well under way.  Leaves are falling, the apples are ready and - dare I say it? – the holidays are growing near.  Students have returned to school or college and are entrenched in studies and football.

In addition to these Fall traditions, many Health Centers are again hosting nursing, medical assisting, and medical office administration students. Hosting these programs and clinical rotations is a worthwhile cause that aligns well with Health Center missions, which generally include an aspect of community partnership and contribution.

Curiously, one type of collaboration that Health Centers often overlook is a partnership with a residency program. This is unfortunate, as partnering with a teaching hospital by hosting residents can provide many advantages for an FQHC.

Following are the benefits of hosting residents at your Health Center:

Increased Access to Care

  • Hosting residents allows access to an expanded patient population for the FQHC and increases access to specialty care for existing Health Center patients.

  • Residents help Health Centers to expand patients served and visit volumes in a cost-effective manner.

  • A properly structured residency program offers nearly twice the potential level of productivity than that of a non-leveraged or extender-based clinical model.

Higher Quality of Care

  • Residency programs can increase quality of care as residents and faculty provide the most up-to-date patient care, bringing new methods and innovations to patient populations faster than traditional provider methods.

  • Residents can help address health inequality and social determinants of health for Health Center patients.

Reduced cost of care

Residents represent a minimal cost to the Health Center site, reducing overall cost per patient visit. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Resident and faculty compensation is generally paid for, in whole or in part, through payments from CMS to the teaching hospital.

  • The teaching hospital and FQHC typically execute a contract for any time spent by FQHC clinicians and support staff that participate in teaching activities, as well as associated overhead, equipment and space costs.

  • Additionally, depending on your State’s guidelines, Graduate Medical Education (GME) visits can be billed under the supervising physician and reimbursed at your PPS rate.

Increased recruitment and retention of physicians

  • Studies have shown that physicians who train in Health Centers are significantly more likely to practice in this setting after completion of training.

  • In addition, physicians who complete medical school and residency training in a single state are more likely to remain in that state to practice, increasing the potential community benefit of partnering with local residency programs.

  • Finally, the stimulating work environment and preceptorship opportunities provided at Health Centers who host residents can aid in the recruitment and retention of more seasoned providers.

Community Impact

  • Residency programs help Health Centers increase their financial impact on the community. Residents, faculty members, and former residents who remain in the community generate additional positive impacts on the local economies through job creation, generation of business volume and tax revenue.

Collaboration and Outreach

  • Participating with residency programs gives Health Centers increased access to teaching hospital resources, allowing for the possibility of additional collaboration and outreach opportunities.

As you can see, partnering with a residency program makes strategic, operational and financial sense for Health Centers.

Thankfully, Health Centers and PCAs are wising up to the advantages of these partnerships. In fact, HRSA data from 2016 to present* shows that more than 115 FQHCs hosted residents during that timeframe. Additionally, several state PCAs are currently leading efforts to create FQHC/teaching hospital partnerships to facilitate residency program development. This model results in cost efficiencies, as programs can share administrative expenses and exchange best practice strategies and program development expertise.

Further, it’s important to note that partnership opportunities are not limited to MD and DO programs.  Dental, Behavioral Health, Nurse Practitioner and other teaching specialties are also seeking clinical practice sites. 


*Data from questions 23 and 24 of Form CMS-224-14.


Chuck Hutchings is the Director Healthcare Operations & Strategy at RDI.

To connect with Chuck on LinkedIn, click here.

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