An East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine faculty member accused of favoritism in one of the school’s residency programs and who was suspended in June resigned from the school Thursday, according to documents obtained by the Johnson City Press.
Dr. Hetal Brahmbhatt, who was an assistant professor at the medical school and who had served as director of the school’s internal medicine residency program, said Thursday in an email addressed to ETSU President Dr. Paul Stanton Jr. and Dean of Medicine Dr. Phillip Bagnell that after much thought and prayer he wanted to resign his position “for better opportunities.”
The email and a response from the medical dean were obtained by the Johnson City Press via a Freedom of Information Act request.
An investigation into the allegations against Brahmbhatt began in early June when officials at the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Eduction notified Quillen administrators the accrediting body had received several anonymous complaints alleging Brahmbhatt “greatly favors residents of Indian descent,” meets with a select group of residents at his house at night to discuss the program and other residents, that this select group has access to other residents’ personal information and test scores and that there is “great discrimination regarding duty assignments, distribution of rotations and work load among residents.”
The complaints also alleged that the resident work schedule was being created by first and second-year Indian internal medicine and medical/psychology residents.
The ACGME said the complaints indicated the resident work environment was hostile and residents feared retaliation if they expressed concerns.
The school investigated and found that many of the allegations were accurate. Specifics on which allegations were true were not made clear.
Brahmbhatt’s duties as director of the college’s internal medicine residency program and site director at Johnson City Medical Center ceased on June 17 and June 21, respectively.
Dr. Gene LeSage assumed the duties of internal medicine residency program director.
Brahmbhatt was suspended from administrative duties at that time, but was allowed to continue seeing patients at ETSU Physicians and Associates. He also was still employed as an assistant professor in the College of Medicine.
Bagnell, accepted Brahmbhatt’s resignation in a letter addressed to him Friday and told Brahmbhatt he was relieved of his “covenant not to compete,” a request Brahmbhatt had made.
Such a covenant is sometimes signed by ETSU doctors that limits where they can practice upon leaving the university. Brahmbhatt was relieved of this obligation.
In his letter of resignation, Brahmbhatt expressed thanks for the opportunity to serve ETSU since 1996. It has been his only employment as a physician.
The investigation is continuing by the Tennessee Board of Regents, the governing body that oversees ETSU.