With a generous lead gift from Lea Cornell, MD, a retired Gundersen physician, and other donors who have directed gifts to medical education, the Lea Cornell, MD Director of Family Medicine Residency Endowment has been established for the Family Medicine Residency program.
With significant contributions toward the goal, along with Gundersen Medical Foundation Board's pledge for matching funds, the $2 million endowment ensures the Family Medicine Residency program will be able to continue training future generations of doctors.
"I spent most of my career in rural practice and it was the most rewarding thing I've ever done. It is my passion. I got to know my patients extremely well—they were like family to me," Dr. Cornell recalls. "It's important to encourage more people to go into rural medicine. There is such a need for quality healthcare in our rural communities. That's why I chose to support the Family Medicine Residency program."
Dr. Cornell was a long-time Gundersen family practice physician who served patients in rural communities including Hillsboro, Wonewoc and Elroy before her 2017 retirement, at age 70. Her gift in support of the Family Medicine Residency program will help train the next generation of doctors interested in practicing family medicine, especially in rural Midwest communities.
To address a shortage of rural healthcare physicians in the Tri-state region, Gundersen Health System and Gundersen Medical Foundation launched the Family Medicine Residency program and clinic in July 2016. The first class of family medicine residents graduated last year; three of the four graduating residents now practice with Gundersen Health System.
"The training and real-world experience they gain through the residency program and clinic leads to independent practice across the full spectrum of care and at every life stage," explains Paul Klas, MD, director, Family Medicine Residency program. "Our residents receive extensive training in rural settings, including rural emergency medicine, surgery, primary care and obstetrics."
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