The Arrival of Residents Launches CMC's Academic Medicine Program

Nileena Johnkutty, DO,
receives the long coat of
a physician from Nicole
Maguire, DO, Program
Director, Emergency Medicine
Residency Program
Nileena Johnkutty, DO, receives the long coat of a physician from Nicole Maguire, DO, Program Director, Emergency Medicine Residency Program, at CMC’s inaugural long coat ceremony for its first group of Graduate Medical Education residents.

Community Medical Center officially became an academic medical center by welcoming its first residents in Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Podiatry.

Community Medical Center (CMC) has marked another milestone in its 60-year history. In July, the hospital completed a process of becoming an academic medical center by welcoming its first residents—12 in Internal Medicine, 12 in Emergency Medicine and three in Podiatry. Residents are physicians who have graduated from medical school with an education in all types of medicine and are now developing more specialized knowledge and experience in specific disciplines.

Meika Neblett, MD, MS
Meika Neblett, MD, MS

“We’ve always been a community hospital, and we’re now making a transition to also being an academic institution that is contributing to the future of healthcare,” says Meika Neblett, MD, MS, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Academic Officer at CMC. “It adds a lot of energy and excitement to the culture of a facility—the ways we communicate, think, study, act and deal with patients—when we know that all our actions are leading toward making great doctors for the next generation.”

Next summer, CMC will introduce its Surgery residency program, bringing more trainees to the hospital. Residents spend three to five years completing their rotations, depending on specialty. “When we have a full complement in all of our programs, we’ll be training a total of 117 residents,” Dr. Neblett says.

A Part of the Team

Nicole Maguire, DO
Nicole Maguire, DO

One of those residents is Nileena Johnkutty, DO, who was accepted into CMC’s Emergency Medicine program after attending New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. Prior to her acceptance at CMC, she spent four weeks in a sub-internship at the hospital to explore its program following a remote video meeting with Nicole Maguire, DO, Program Director of CMC’s Emergency Medicine Residency Program. “Her passion stood out to me just from a virtual interview,” Dr. Johnkutty says.

Initially, Dr. Johnkutty wondered if she would fit in. “From the first day, I instantly felt part of the team at CMC,” she says. “I knew I wouldn’t have second-year residents to mentor me, but it was attractive to me that I would be a trailblazer and automatically be in a leadership position where I would have input into advancing the program.”

She quickly felt inspired both by experiences and academic challenges. In one instance, she treated a woman who had fallen on ice and needed stitches. “She was nervous about getting the sutures, and I talked her through the process and made her feel comfortable,” Dr. Johnkutty recalls. The woman appreciated her care so much that she emailed praises to Dr. Maguire, who passed the message to others on the team. “This is what I love to do, and it’s great to be appreciated and help inspire others,” Dr. Johnkutty says.

Eric Stander, MD
Eric Stander, MD

In another instance, she recalls conversing with emergency medicine physician Eric Stander, MD, about care for a patient. “He continually challenged me on what I knew and also what I didn’t know,” Dr. Johnkutty says. “I could tell he was passionate about advancing my knowledge and pushing me to be curious and engaged. I thought, ‘This CMC family really cares about my medical education and providing the best patient care.’”

Culture of Improvement

Faculty development to foster such challenging and inspirational moments has been a key element of preparations to become a teaching hospital, with current CMC physicians learning how to teach and train through a program conducted by Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School faculty. “We guide doctors who are teaching residents on a variety of instruction methods, whether didactic, classroom or bedside,” Dr. Neblett says.

Other preparations have included renovations that provide facilities such as an auditorium, study rooms, conference and learning spaces, offices and resident lounges. The hospital has also created a new clinic designed to foster continuity of care for patients—many of whom may be underinsured—who receive services in a variety of settings such as initial consultations in doctors’ offices, hospital treatments and follow-up or routine appointments. Residents in the Internal Medicine Residency Program will play a key role in providing consistent primary care monitored by attending physicians.

Residents continually strive to improve the quality of care they provide, and having a strong learner’s perspective rippling through the entire institution is one benefit of being an academic medical center, Dr. Neblett says. “Every hospital reviews and analyzes best practices, but residents enhance that process,” she says. “Not only do they have to do this, but they want to get involved with reviewing patient care, comparing outcomes here vs. elsewhere and having discussions.”

Opportunities for doing so abound as part of RWJBarnabas Health. “We have hundreds of other residents and essentially a large classroom across the entire system with many other learners with whom residents can interact and converse,” Dr. Neblett says. “Through our partnership with Rutgers University, RWJBarnabas Health serves as New Jersey’s largest academic healthcare system featuring world-class medical education for the physicians of tomorrow. Residency and fellowship programs training at CMC will benefit from the resources and interprofessional opportunities available through the Rutgers Health institutional sponsorship.”

“Knowing CMC is part of RWJBarnabas Health, I knew we were in good hands,” says Dr. Johnkutty, who, after her four-week rotation, applied to CMC through the National Resident Matching Program, which links residents and hospitals that have mutual interest in each other. “I really wanted to come here,” she says. “When I opened that acceptance email, I had tears of joy to find out that I matched with CMC.”

Learn more about residency programs at Community Medical Center.