A partnership between one of the largest hospital networks in the country and the second-largest university in the nation will create more than 550 medical residency slots in hospitals across Northern Florida.
Hospital Corporation of America and the UCF College of Medicine previously established an interval medicine program with the Orlando VA Medical Center and Osceola Regional Medical Center in 2013, and they are now expanding their partnership to create more than 550 residency slots. Some of the communities that will see new residents in training will be Orlando, Gainesville and Ocala.
This expanded partnership will help address the doctor shortage in Florida. This shortage impacts patients, who must often wait weeks to see a doctor. Florida currently ranks 42 out of the 50 states in the number of residents per 100,000 people.
“Florida has not kept up with the number of residency slots to keep up with our growing population,” said Wendy Spirduso Sarubbi, assistant vice president of communications for the UCF College of Medicine. “97 percent of UCF med students get into residency programs. We are higher than the national average. If you look at med schools across the country, they are at around 93 percent who go onto residency."
There are not enough residency slots in the nation for the number of medical school graduates each year, said Dr. Deborah German, UCF’s vice president for medical affairs and founding dean of the College of Medicine, in a press release. Many qualified students find themselves without residencies simply because there are not enough spots, she said. After last year’s residency match, more than 600 U.S. medical-school seniors were left without residency positions.
The first step in this expanded partnership is to seek any re-accreditation from the national Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The partnership will establish new residency and fellowship programs over the next five years — bringing enrollment to more than 550 residents and fellows and graduate up to 150 physicians per year.
What's more is that where a resident completes his or her program is typically where he or she stays to work. Therefore, this partnership would help to retain more doctors for Florida residents.
“Our agreement with HCA shows how our students, community and state benefit from the power of partnerships. Together we will produce more well-trained physicians who will care for patients in Central Florida and throughout our state,” said UCF President John C. Hitt.
Sarubbi said students from across the country and around the world will benefit from the partnership.
“These residencies aren’t just for UCF medical students. They are for anyone going through Residency Match, which is kind of like a computerized dating service,” Sarubbi said.
Michael Joyce, president of HCA’s North Florida Division said that HCA’s North Florida Division brings significant resources and a dedicated commitment to meeting Florida’s critical need for physicians.
“We are honored to partner with UCF to provide outstanding training and mentorship that will prepare the next generation of physicians to deliver the highest quality of patient care,” he said.
This agreement will not change any current HCA or UCF partnerships. UCF currently operates the Osceola Regional residency in a partnership with HCA and the Orlando VA Medical Center.
The involved organizations will first expand their family medicine, internal medicine and OB/GYN residencies, and over the next few years they expect to reach other specialties, including emergency medicine, surgery, psychiatry, anesthesiology and more.
Brianna Ordenes is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.