A Conversation with...
James Ledwith, MD, Residency Director
UMass Fitchburg Family Medicine Residency
Five years after joining the faculty of Fitchburg Family Medicine, Dr. James Ledwith doesn't hesitate when asked what brought him to North Worcester County after 19 years of practicing family medicine in rural Virginia.
"I made a timely decison to move closer to my parents who were not as vigorous as they used to be and I wanted to help prevent further health problems for them," he explains of his 2005 move from Tappahannock, VA to Fitchburg, MA. Now living in Franklin, the New Jersey native took a few minutes to talk about his passion for teaching residents and his commitment to caring for families.
Dr. Ledwith spent parts of his boyhood in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania before finishing high school in New Jersey. He majored in Chemistry as an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary, where he says he might have pursued biomedical research instead of medicine were it not for the influence of his older sister, a family physician. He chose to attend the Medical College of Virginia, now the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine (VCU) and matched at the W.W. Family Practice Residency at the Toledo Hospital in Ohio, where he served as Chief Resident before graduating in 1986.
After several years sharing a practice with a family physician in the town of Aylett, Virginia, Dr. Ledwith set up his own practice in Tappahannock, Virginia where he would spend the next 19 years caring for multiple generations of families. As Assistant Clinical Professor of Family Practice at VCU from 1988-2005, Dr. Ledwith mentored and precepted medical students who rotated through his practice. He also worked with the
AAFP's National Research Network and its predecessor ASPN, and was involved in
developing early studies of error in primary care practice as a member of the AAFP
Patient Safety Center Advisory Panel.
While visiting residency programs in Massachusetts in 2005, Dr. Ledwith instinctively knew the type of residents he wanted to teach. "The residents needed to have a passion for their patients and a commitment to their work. I really felt at home in Fitchburg." After three years on faculty, he became Residency Director in 2008.
Dr. Ledwith and his family live in Franklin, where he enjoys "biking, swimming, hiking and sitting down with a good novel." Noting that Tappahannock had a population of only 3,000 people during his years there, he seems to suggest that while a physician may leave a rural community behind, perhaps a small community never really leaves a physician. "I'd probaby best be described as still being a small-town doctor with a passion for working with the community."