A medical residency is attracting talent to Fort Wayne and addressing looming physician shortages

As population growth and an aging Baby Boomer generation place high demands on today’s physicians, health systems are increasingly pressed to attract and retain talent. With 40 percent of physicians approaching retirement age in the next decade, experts predict a nationwide physician shortage—including a need for an additional 817 primary care doctors in Indiana alone.
To draw top healthcare professionals to Fort Wayne, Parkview Health launched a graduate medical education (GME) program, also known as a residency, in which med school graduates from all over the world can receive further specialized training. In July of this year, Parkview welcomed its first class of residents for its internal medicine and general surgery programs, with plans to launch programs in specializations like Obstetrics & Gynecology and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation by 2024. Each program has its own set of directors and coordinators—several of whom made the move to Fort Wayne to be part of the GME initiatives’ early development and direction.

Parkview Health launched a graduate medical education (GME) program, also known as a medical residency, in Fort Wayne. A white coat ceremony in June 2022 officially welcomed the new resident physicians.
According to the Indiana Graduate Medical Education Board, 70 percent of doctors choose to practice near the location of their residency. Parkview’s vision is to create a pipeline that brings residents to Fort Wayne and ultimately results in physicians establishing their own practices here in the Summit City. So far, this vision is proving successful—if only based on how quickly Fort Wayne has endeared itself to GME residents and faculty alike.

Parkview Health launched a graduate medical education (GME) program, also known as a medical residency, in Fort Wayne. A white coat ceremony in June 2022 officially welcomed the new resident physicians.
'Hidden gem' of the Midwest

Many residents who matched with Parkview’s programs had limited exposure to Fort Wayne before coming to live in the city. General surgery resident Samantha Sherman, M.D., grew up on the East Coast, receiving her education in New York and Boston before applying to Parkview’s program. She’d never been to Fort Wayne, but she knew she wanted to pursue a path in surgery, and she was ready for a change. Samantha Sherman
“Fort Wayne, being a smaller city, appealed to me because I love the urban lifestyle, but I also really value community,” Sherman says. “When I talked with the Program Director, Dr. Pei, I really connected with his forward-thinking vision and commitment to success. It made me excited to come out here and help build this program.”
Payal Shukla, M.D., chose the internal medicine residency for similar reasons.
“The faculty were very dedicated to the success of their future inaugural class, and I knew I’d be able to grow and flourish here,” says Shukla. “I was excited to be part of a new program where I could help establish the culture and pave the way for future residents.” Payal Shukla
Shukla was born and raised in Chicago—and she admits that moving to Fort Wayne was a huge change from her norm. However, she likes the smaller size of Fort Wayne, and she loves exploring the area with her co-residents outside of work.
Samantha Sherman, who was also primarily familiar with the Chicago region of the Midwest, remembers matching with the general surgery program at Parkview and immediately receiving an influx of messages from friends and relatives who had passed through Fort Wayne on various occasions.
“I had a lot of people tell me they’d been here before and were really excited to come visit me,” she says. “They described the city as a ‘hidden gem,’ and I think that’s true.”

Riverfront Fort Wayne's Promenade Park opened to the public on August 9, 2019.
Patrick Woodman, D.O., had the same “hidden gem” revelation when he moved to Fort Wayne to spearhead the development of the OB/GYN residency program. Woodman was familiar with the area, having served on the team that launched the Osteopathic Medical School at Marian University in Indianapolis. Patrick Woodman
“I’d driven along I-69, so I knew the Vera Bradley headquarters, the GM plant, and the ‘Emerald City’ of Parkview’s new hospital,” says Woodman. “But when I came to Fort Wayne for my interview, I was impressed with how much was here. It has so much more to offer than what you can see from the interstate.”
Like Woodman, Jenna Laughlin, D.O., had some familiarity with Fort Wayne when she moved here to serve as core faculty for the internal medicine GME program. 
“My husband grew up in Fort Wayne, and most of his family is still in the area,” she says. “We’d go back every year for the holidays to see his family, and it always seemed like there was a new restaurant or a new winery to try. There was a lot of investment happening in the community.” Jenna Laughlin
Laughlin and her husband are both doctors, and when her husband finished his training as a radiologist, they knew they wanted to move closer to family—but Laughlin was passionate about academic medicine and wanted to be involved in a GME program.
“Fort Wayne had never had a residency program, but during my research, I found out that the Parkview GME program had just gotten approval. I emailed in my résumé, came for an interview, and it ended up being a good fit. It’s been perfect for our family and our careers, and we definitely see a future here.”
Feels like coming home

The Fort Wayne area was described to Samantha Sherman as “an urban lifestyle with a quaint vibe,” and Sherman felt the truth of that statement almost immediately.
“The Midwest culture has been such a pleasant surprise for me. I’m so used to the reserved culture of the East Coast, and people in Fort Wayne are so open to chatting. There’s a lot of public effort to develop community, and that makes it easier to strike up a conversation.”

Parkview Health launched a graduate medical education (GME) program, also known as a medical residency, in Fort Wayne. A white coat ceremony in June 2022 officially welcomed the new resident physicians, including Dr. Payal Shukla, right.
“The people here are so kind, warm, and welcoming,” agrees Payal Shukla. In the few months she’s been in Indiana, Shukla has visited local staples like the Art Museum and the Allen County Public Library, and she’s also taken advantage of seasonal events like the Kuehnert Dairy Fall Festival and the Haunted Bell Mansion tour.
“I love being able to call this city home,” she says.
One of the most surprising elements of Fort Wayne to its newly transplanted residents was the diverse array of activities available in the city—from lively festivals to peaceful nature walks.
“I love being around the buzz of humanity,” says Sherman. “I moved here in the middle of Germanfest, and it made me excited to participate in all the local events that happen during the year. For now, when I’m not on call, I’ll go out and see what’s happening downtown, take my dogs to Utopian Coffee, or run on some of the trails.”

Utopian Coffee is located on The Landing in Downtown Fort Wayne.
Patrick Woodman, who moved to Fort Wayne in the winter, didn’t experience the buzz of the humanity until the spring. Then, as he remembers, the excitement exploded.
“It seemed like there were a million festivals,” he says. “Every weekend there was something: Greek Festival, Korea Festival, Johnny Appleseed Festival—and it was all free!”
In the City of Fort Wayne, Woodman says he sees a kindred spirit.
“This city is part working-man, part farm-country—but it can dress up nice on the weekends. I think I’m the same way. I’m not too fancy; I want to be approachable and empathetic to my patients. But I also love to go out for a nice dinner and cocktail.”

Parkview Health launched a graduate medical education (GME) program, also known as a medical residency, in Fort Wayne. A white coat ceremony in June 2022 officially welcomed the new resident physicians.
To that end, Woodman has several “tiers” of local restaurants he enjoys, depending on how fancy he wants to be. His more casual stop is Davey’s Delicious Bagels on the corner of Washington and Broadway, and his favorite upscale locale is the Copper Spoon near Parkview Field.
Regardless of age, specialty, experience, or background, there’s a common thread among Parkview’s residents and faculty: Everyone agrees that Fort Wayne has a “homeyness” to it, and they all experience it in their own ways. Laughlin and her family love being near relatives and getting involved in their church. Sherman enjoys the community-centric, quaint nature of a city that still offers fun activities. Shukla feels like the city has everything she needs. And Woodman says moving to Fort Wayne simply “felt like coming home.”

Fort Wayne Trails offer more than 100 miles of biking and walking paths in Fort Wayne.
As the Parkview GME program expands into more specialties and attracts more talent from across the globe, residents will experience the “feels-like-home” atmosphere Fort Wayne has to offer—but the citizens of Fort Wayne stand to benefit just as much.
“I really think we’re just scratching the surface of the impact we can make with these programs,” says Jenna Laughlin. “As we get more residents, this community will reap the rewards of having dedicated, young, knowledgeable, invested physicians who serve patients at the highest level.”
This Special Report was made possible with underwriting from Parkview Health.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.