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Good Shepherd trains residents; some practice in East Texas

By Ken Hedler
June 19, 2016 at 11 p.m.
Updated June 20, 2016 at 7:39 a.m.

Recent Good Shepherd residency graduates Dr. Nithin Nayini, left, and Dr. Madhavi Annakula Wednesday, June 15, 2016. (Les Hassell/News-Journal Photo)

Nithin Nayini and Madhavi Annakula could have followed the examples of other recent graduates of the three-year internal medicine residency program at Good Shepherd Medical Center by starting their careers as doctors anywhere in the country.

However, Nayini, a Longview native, and Annakula, a native of India, chose instead to start their careers at Good Shepherd, both as hospitalists, doctors who specialize in in-patient care.

"Family ties is a big thing. Familiar with the area," said Nayini, a 2002 graduate of Pine Tree High School who graduated from medical school at St. George's University in Grenada.

Annakula, who graduated from Gandhi Medical College in India, has good reason to stay with Good Shepherd, also. Her husband, Prashanth Peddi, is a hospitalist who started at the nonprofit hospital four years ago after completing a residency program at Michigan State University.

Both Annakula, 34, and Nayini, 32, plan to begin serving as hospitalists in a few months.

The quality of training at the residency program also apparently influenced their decisions.

"We worked with a great group of physicians," Nayini said.

Annakula said she considered the residency program a privilege.

They are among three of the 18 residents who graduated June 3 and who have made plans to stay in Longview.

The third, Sudharani Yanamandra, will sign on in primary care at Longview Regional Medical Center.

Residents who decide to stay in Longview or throughout East Texas are a source of pride to Dr. Emmanuel Elueze, founder and director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Good Shepherd. He said five of the 17 members of the first-year class stayed on with Good Shepherd, with four others remaining in East Texas.

"The program here is to help us provide improved quality of care in East Texas," Elueze said. "Even as residents, they are already contributing to the health care here."

Elueze said Good Shepherd has focused the residency program on internal medicine, as opposed to other specialities, because Good Shepherd is a primary care hospital. Good Shepherd launched the program in 2012 in cooperation with the University of Texas Health Science Center.

"You have to look at what your strength is," he said.

During the three-year program, the doctors learn all aspects of internal medicine, including primary care, cardiology (heart), nephrology (kidneys) and pulmonology (lungs), Elueze said. They treat patients who have diabetes, high-blood pressure, heart diseases and other conditions.

The residency program drew praise from Casey Robertson, the chief executive officer at Longview Regional Medical Center.

"Longview Regional Medical Center and the Diagnostic Clinic of Longview value Good Shepherd Health System's investment for their Residency Program," Robertson said in a prepared statement. "Their dedication to training physicians has resulted in an increase in the quality of care for Longview and the surrounding areas.

"We are grateful for Dr. Sudharani Yanamandra joining LRMC's team of physicians and that she is continuing to provide health care to our community."

A number of the residents came from foreign countries, said Elueze, a native of Nigeria.

However, the foreign-born doctors and other residents have adjusted well to the culture in Longview, he said.

"They are doing very well," Elueze said. "They make the hospital culture very educational because the best way to learn is to teach people. We are teaching them."

The residents receive training both inside the 425-bed hospital and the Medicine Clinic on West Loop 281 from as many as 120 physicians and other staff, Elueze said.

Elueze said he wants to make sure the prospective residents fit in. Good Shepherd reported receiving 1,200 applicants for the first class and about 1,800 for the second class.

"We do a number of things to entice them (to join the program)," Elueze said. "We tell them how beautiful Longview is."

He said Good Shepherd staff helps the residents find housing, along with finding schools for children of residents.

And while the residents are here, they are contributing to the local economy by buying houses, shopping and purchasing other goods and services, Elueze said.

He said a number of the residents are married to doctors, teachers or other professionals.

The University of Texas will pay the new class members $51,000 for the first year, $52,000 for the second year and $53,000 for the third year, according to Good Shepherd staff.

And during their residency, they work a maximum of 80 hours a week, Elueze said.

He said the new class will have 12 participants who undergo orientation June 16 and start their instruction July 1.

Annakula said she will start her new job in September or October, while Nayini said he will begin in September with Good Shepherd.

Both graduates were vague about long-term goals, but said they want to become the best physicians as possible.

"I would say the position I accepted is something I want," Nayini said.

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