A residency program could help bring more doctors to Sauk Prairie and other rural areas, thanks in part to a four-year, $675,000 grant.

The funding awarded to the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health will help resident physicians build additional skills necessary to succeed in a rural community.

“This is for places where they might not have as many specialists such as for addiction, mental health services or even cardiology,” said Dr. Ildi Martonffy, who will take over the residency program in 2017. “The residency provides a more robust training.”

Amy Lindloff, administrator of the Prairie Clinic, said doctors trained to work in larger cities do things differently than those in more rural settings. “In larger cities they are used to referring out to specialists,” she said. “In smaller communities doctors treat the whole patient.”

The Prairie Clinic has enrolled in a program through the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative Residency Program as a means to recruit more physician candidates to the area, Lindloff said. She said there is a projected nationwide shortage of family practice physicians, and attributed the shortage to a rise in demands placed on physicians.

Lindloff said Prairie Clinic is new to the program and hasn’t yet had any residents come through. But the goal “is to have well-trained physicians in our community,” she said.

Mattonffy said family physicians see patients in all stages of life, from birth to death. In some areas, they might be the one doctor for a large geographical area.

“We know the majority of our residents end up within 100 miles from where they trained,” Mattonffy said. “We need to train them to function in other areas of the state.”

She said the goal is for the doctors to become community advocates. “We want them to treat the needs of the community as well as the individual person.”

Reporter, Sauk Prairie Eagle