Pastor Frank Sossamon offered a Blessing of the Hands during a July 1 ceremony for Dr. Rashmi Saincher (left) and Dr. Jessica Sanders (right), new residents in Duke Family Medicine’s rural training track who will do much of their second- and third-year work at Maria Parham Health in Henderson.

HENDERSON — Two new physicians were presented with their white coats during a White Coat Ceremony on Wednesday, July 1, at Maria Parham Health in Henderson.

This event celebrated Maria Parham Health’s participation in the new rural training track of Duke Family Medicine’s residency program. This unique residency program strives to deliver excellent provider education through intimate connections to the rural community. Maria Parham Health hosted the event, which local government officials and community leaders attended.

In opening comments Wednesday evening, Maria Parham Health CEO Bert Beard said, “This is a tremendous day for Maria Parham.” He recalled wondering what it would be for Duke and Maria Parham to partner on a rural track family medicine program that could facilitate health care in rural areas of North Carolina for the future.

According to Beard, this program was four years in the making. “It’s a small start, but it’s a big step,” Beard said.

In the first year, rural residency training track residents will immerse themselves in the world-class training at Duke Health. Then, in years two and three, they will move to Maria Parham Health and the Oxford office of Duke Primary Care, led by Program Director Dr. Tom Koinis.

As new residents, Dr. Rashmi Saincher and Dr. Jessica Sanders received their white coats. Koinis encouraged them by saying, “As you move into the physician’s world, you’ll be a major part of that community in many different ways.”

Pastor Frank Sossamon offered a Blessing of the Hands during the ceremony. In Sossamon’s words, “Hands speak, they affirm, they comfort. And they heal.”

Dr. Rashmi Saincher comes to North Carolina from the area of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She studied medicine at St. George’s University in London and also in Philadelphia.

Dr. Jessica Sanders hails from Houston, Texas. She graduated from the University of Texas-Austin and worked for several years in New York City before returning to her hometown to the McGovern Medical School.

Beard said the residency program should be proof positive to this community and region that “our partnership with Duke is very strong, and we’re going to advance it.”