In a small building just south of the new Pedersen Tower at Utah Valley Hospital sits the conveniently located Merrill Gappmayer Family Medicine Center. The Gappmayer Center has the dual role of offering the best in family medicine and providing residency training for new doctors.
“We are dedicated to patient care and have a large team of physicians that gives us the chance to help more local families,” says Scott Black, M.D.
The Gappmayer Center program has 24 residents at a time overseen and trained by another seven faculty physicians, meaning there are 31 physicians working together to treat the medical needs of families.
“Because we have 31 physicians working in the clinic, we can see a high volume of patients and very frequently have walk-in times available.”
More physicians also means the clinic has “after hours” times available on Thursdays (from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and Saturdays (from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Rotating residents often have additional language skills — the clinic currently has five providers who speak Spanish.
Family medicine physicians are trained to treat and coordinate care for every member of the family — regardless of age or gender — from birth to death.
“We will treat a mother during pregnancy, then deliver the baby,” Dr. Black says. “Then, we will begin care of the baby while continuing to monitor the mother. Mother and baby can be seen for follow-up visits together. The continuity of care is convenient and effective.”
Family medicine doctors often go into that type of practice because they appreciate the whole-person approach to care. Instead of specializing on one part of the body or disease area, they enjoy the variety and personal connection that comes from being the medical “point person” on all things relating to the patient.
“We get to know the patients and their medical history,” Dr. Black says. “We know what medications they are on and what chronic concerns they’re facing. However, we can also get them to the right specialist, if needed.”
Family medicine physicians commonly treat mental illness (including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder), high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obstetrics. They also receive extensive training — through rotations done during residencies — in areas including pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, psychiatry and neurology, in-office minor surgeries, and community medicine, among many others.
“For many routine concerns, we can take care of things in the office,” Dr. Black says. “That leaves specialists available for more unusual or complicated concerns and diseases.”
Many rural areas of Utah — and other parts of the country — are primarily serviced by family medicine physicians who utilize their extensive breadth of training to meet a wide-range of medical needs in those areas.
Dr. Black is one of the faculty supervisors overseeing the residents and finds that working with fresh-out-of-medical-school physicians enables the clinic to stay at the forefront of medical research, treatments and technology.
“There are some people who want to see the doctor who has been practicing for 30 years because of the doctor’s experience,” Dr. Black says. “However, it’s hard to stay up-to-date on every latest thing if you don’t work really hard at it. With our connection to the academic community, we utilize the most up-to-date information and research to treat patients.”
And residents consult with senior physicians throughout clinical hours.
“We are here, in a room right next to exam rooms, consulting and supervising these patient visits,” Dr. Black says. “That ensures for both the residents and patients that they will have a positive experience.”
In addition to meeting the ever-increasing medical needs of Utah Valley, the Gappmayer Center also trains residents who often stay and practice in the local medical community and other parts of Utah, becoming fixtures in assisting Utahns stay active and healthy for much longer than their three years of training.
The Gappmayer Center has an on-site procedure room and diagnostic facility. Patients can also have routine blood draws and X-rays in the office, making care more efficient.
The clinic’s location enables physicians to see patients in the hospital while also utilizing the capabilities and resources found there.
“If there is something more specialized or complicated than what we can do in our office, we have great relationships with the hospital and can get patients what they need without having to go very far at all,” Dr. Black says.
It’s another way the Gappmayer Center combines training and treatment to meet the needs of patients.
About the Merrill Gappmayer Family Medicine Center
The Merrill Gappmayer Family Medicine Center uses a team-based, personalized approach in delivering quality healthcare, coordinated by highly skilled, caring providers from Intermountain Healthcare.
What is family medicine?
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, family physicians “are dedicated to treating the whole person. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focusing on integrated care.”
What are medical residencies?
After medical school and before a doctor can begin to practice medicine on his or her own, a residency program must be completed. Residency programs usually range from three to seven years, depending on specialty, and offer a combined clinical and academic experience, supervised by experienced physicians.
As part of the residency requirements for the family medicine specialty, participants receive specific and detailed hands-on training in pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, psychiatry and neurology, in-office minor surgeries, and community medicine, among many others.