First doctor embarks on the rural part of new rural residency program


June 20, 2019

In July, the inaugural physician in the new HealthPartners Western Wisconsin Rural Family Medicine Residency will start experiencing the rural side to the program.

Catherine Kress, DO, will split her time between Amery Hospital & Clinic and Westfields Hospital & Clinic (New Richmond, Wisconsin) when she starts on July 1. She spent the past year at another HealthPartners facility – Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minnesota – where she was exposed to high volumes of patients, many of whom required complex care.

“I have learned a lot this last year at Methodist, including how to take on a role as a resident. I have gained a lot of experience throughout the year, in addition to learning on specific rotations,” said Dr. Kress.

Her professional interests include pediatrics, women’s health and sports medicine. She’s excited to get started on the final two years of her residency, in her home state (she grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin).

“I have always enjoyed my experiences in rural communities, and enjoy the variety of care options in rural communities,” said Dr. Kress. “I appreciate the broad spectrum of care that family practice doctors have in rural settings, from working in the ER, inpatient medicine, to opportunities to perform procedures.”

HealthPartners launched the three-year Western Wisconsin Rural Family Medicine Residency in 2017 as a way to increase the number of primary care physicians who practice in rural and underserved areas of Wisconsin.

Amery and Westfields family medicine clinics are eager to welcome Dr. Kress to their campuses.

“This is the start of a new chapter as a teaching facility for Amery and Westfields and the program brings many benefits for patients, colleagues and the community,” said David DeGear, MD, the Westfields family medicine physician who oversees the program onsite in western Wisconsin.

As teaching facilities, the goal of the hospitals is to:

  • Attract top physicians with the latest training at the forefront of medical research;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to the training and development of medical professionals for rural practice;
  • Plan for the community’s future health care needs by offering this training opportunity to some of the best graduating primary care physicians (Residents often locate in the same town where they complete a residency).
Also starting this summer will be the second cohort of residents in the program. Jaya Durvasula, MBBS, University of Minnesota Medical School and Andrea Knievel, MD, Tulane University School of Medicine, were named as the Rural Residency Class of 2022. They’ll spend their first year at Methodist Hospital (2019-2020) and will move to Amery and Westfields in 2020.

Pictured right: Catherine Kress, DO

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