Geisinger College of Health Sciences establishes ‘first of its kind’ preventive medicine residency program in Pennsylvania

Only four of the 64 accredited PH/GPM programs are in rural regions and access to this training is unavailable in Pennsylvania

 Geisinger College of Health Sciences’ Graduate Medical Education has been awarded a three-year, $750,000 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant focused on the development of a public health/general preventive medicine (PH/GPM) rural residency program — the first of its kind in Pennsylvania.

Based at Geisinger Lewistown Hospital, the residency program will primarily serve the communities of Mifflin, Juniata and surrounding counties, while creating opportunities for health promotion and disease prevention across Geisinger and in the Commonwealth.

According to Michelle Thompson, M.D., chief education officer and vice dean for graduate medical education, Geisinger’s program is the first of its kind to receive funding from HRSA’s Rural Residency Grant Planning Program. The residency will support development of physicians who are knowledgeable in the unique care needs of rural populations and trained specifically to offer preventive care.

According to Dr. Thompson, the residency program has three goals:

  • To develop physicians to meet the unique health needs of individuals and populations in rural communities
  • To better prepare residents to practice in rural and underserved areas
  • To increase health promotion and disease prevention by developing rurally trained physicians with public health skills

“Only four of the 64 accredited PH/GPM are located in rural regions, and access to this training is unavailable in Pennsylvania,” Dr. Thompson said. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Geisinger College of Health Science’s

School of Graduate Education to design a public health, preventive medicine residency program dedicated to improving health in Geisinger’s Western Region and making better health easier for all Geisinger patients — no matter where they live.”

Dr. Thompson said Geisinger anticipates initial residency accreditation for the three-year program in 2026, with the first class of two residents matriculating in 2027. “To best accomplish this, we plan to collaborate with our own Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, The Primary Health Network and the Pennsylvania Department of Health,” she said.