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Program History

The Internal Medicine Residency at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital was established in 1974 by Dr. John L. Cullison, longtime Muncie internist/endocrinologist and the hospital’s first Vice President of Medical Education.

With the help of Dr. Cullison’s colleague, Dr. Walter Daly (professor of medicine at Indiana University and future Dean of IU School of Medicine), new residents were recruited to the new program and the first class graduated in 1976.

Dr. Cullison knew that the program could not thrive without a number of talented internists and subspecialists. One specialist he recruited was Dr. William B. Fisher, who arrived in Muncie in 1976 and immediately became an integral part of the residency program. He took on the role of program director in 1980 and served 20 years of dedicated excellence to medical education. In 2005, he was honored by the American College of Physicians (ACP) for his service to Medical Education by receiving the Indiana Chapter’s highest award, the ACP Laureate Award.

“It was a privilege to accept the position of Internal Medicine Residency Program Director at the request of Dr. Cullison and to serve for 20 years,” said Dr. Fisher, MD, FACP, retired oncologist, IU Health Ball Memorial Cancer Center. “I helped mentor more than 120 residents through those years and watched many of them pursue successful careers either as internists or subspecialists in east central Indiana. It has been equally gratifying to witness the continued growth and adaptation of the program under the direction of the most recent directors, particularly as it relates to our growing digital world.”

Dr. Fisher’s tenure was noted by the formation of the IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital Research Department.

In 2000, Dr. J. Matthew Neal, another Muncie native, took over the Internal Medicine director position. Dr. Neal, an endocrinologist who was also a graduate of the program in 1990, had served as an associate director since 1996.

He saw that the future of the program required more leadership, given the ever-increasing complexity of residency accreditation requirements. Multiple full-time associate program directors joined the team, including Dr. Joseph Koss; Dr. John Weiss; Dr. Ryan Johnston; Dr. Joni Miller; and Dr. Brandon Dickey.

The residency increased in size from 15 to 18 residents in 2006 and had been awarded six additional spots in 2012, bringing the current total to 24 residents.

Dr. Ryan Johnston became the program’s fourth program director in 2011. His background as a general internist and hospitalist helped prepare the program for new initiatives in quality and safety. His leadership has established the residency as a leader in pursuing resident education in quality and safety.

“We are indeed fortunate to have physicians who dedicate as much time to quality and safety as Drs. Johnston and Dickey,” said Dr. Neal. “They have brought forth many initiatives, which have placed our program at the forefront of such education. It is difficult to create and maintain an accredited internal medicine residency, but our faculty have risen to the occasion. We also could not have accomplished this without the support of administration. I am honored to have been a part of it.”

Dr. Johnston assumed additional administrative responsibilities at Ball and Dr. Brandon Dickey became the program's fifth program director in July 2019 and has brought tremendous leadership to the program.

Without Dr. Cullison’s dream back in 1974, medical education at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital and the Internal Medicine Residency would surely not exist. “Those of us associated with the Internal Medicine Residency program at IU Health Ball Hospital are proud and privileged to have been part of this program that has been a staple of the medical community in Muncie for the past 48 years,” said Dr. Brandon Dickey, program director. “We have a strong tradition of academic and clinical excellence within our medical education programs. We also have strong institutional support for medical education. In fact, the Hospital President Dr. Jeff Bird, the CMO Dr. Ryan Johnston, the Executive Medical director, Academic Affairs Dr. Matt Neal have all been former program directors or associate program directors within our own system and are dedicated to the success of medical education within IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital."