By Wendy Sarubbi | May 22, 2013 3:06 pm

The UCF College of Medicine has received accreditation for its first university-sponsored residency program in partnership with the Orlando VA Medical Center and Osceola Regional Medical Center. The graduate medical education (GME) partnership is the college’s next step in bringing more trained doctors into the community.

The internal medicine residency will create 20 slots in 2014 and increase to a maximum of 60 residents a year. UCF’s unique partnership-focused residency will allow residents to see a vast array of patients – including veterans and residents of diverse Osceola County, one of Florida’s fastest growing regions. Some of the most sought-after residencies in the nation are in areas that expose students to a rich array of patients presenting a multitude of conditions, thus giving students greater opportunity to learn and practice.

site vsitThe College of Medicine received word of the approval Tuesday from the national Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

“Residency programs are part of the promise that was made to this community and an important element in a medical school that will anchor a medical city,” said Dr. Deborah German, UCF vice president for medical affairs and founding dean of the College of Medicine. “If we have more residencies, we’ll have more trained doctors in our community because many doctors practice where they complete their residency programs.”

The participating hospitals pay residents a stipend and cover the salaries of physician instructors, and those costs may be reimbursed through federal Medicare and Medicaid funds. The College of Medicine will provide administrative support and oversight of the GME program out of its existing state budget.

The partnership residency program will be offered competitively to all qualified medical school graduates, thus adding additional opportunities for UCF medical school graduates who wish to do their residency training in Orlando as well as other students from medical schools across Florida and the nation.

Florida, Central Florida and the nation currently do not have enough residency positions to accommodate the increasing number of medical school graduates. The state and local community are especially hard hit because residency programs have not kept pace with population and medical school growth:

  •  Florida has fewer than 18 residents and fellows on duty per 100,000 population, ranking it 42 of 50 states nationally.
  • Orlando produces about 102 graduates of ACGME- accredited core residency programs per year.  In comparison, Birmingham produces over 200, and Tampa and Gainesville each produce almost 150.

Robert Krieger, interim CEO at Osceola Regional Medical Center, said the center’s “exponential growth makes it ideal for a comprehensive teaching and training program.”  The medical center is currently undergoing expansions and will have 317 beds by the end of 2013.  In addition to planning its Level II Trauma Center and meeting the needs of Osceola and Orange Counties, Osceola Regional offers specialty programs such as its Central Florida Cardiac and Vascular Institute and Orthopedic and Spine Center.  “As a part of HCA West Florida, we view creating residency programs as an investment in the future of medical care for our community.  We are opening our doors to the next generation of physicians, giving them access to a learning environment where quality care and patient outcomes are the priority across a full range of medical services.” said Aida Sanchez-Jimenez, M.D., chief medical officer at Osceola Regional, who will serve as site director of graduate medical education.

The Orlando VA Medical Center is currently among the busiest VA facilities in the country, providing healthcare services to more than 100,000 veterans in Central Florida. The new Orlando VA Medical Center at Medical City will offer state-of-the-art inpatient acute care for veterans in Central Florida when it opens in 2014. The Orlando VA has been designated as an emerging center of innovation by the Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation. The hospital will emphasize a patient-centered approach through interdisciplinary teams of healthcare professionals that will include the new residents. Dr. Angel Colón-Molero, deputy chief of staff of the Orlando VA Medical Center, will serve as the program director of the new partnership residency program. “Our internal medicine residency program will train our physicians of the future, not only on their academic skills but also in their humanistic qualities using evidence-based, patient-centered care with a holistic approach,” he said.

UCF’s program will use an innovative scheduling of residents called the 4 + 1 rotation schedule. This alternates traditional 4-week hospital and specialty rotations with one week blocks of ambulatory or outpatient care. Residents support the 4+1 because it allows them to focus on specific clinical facilities and cuts down on time-consuming travel and logistical problems that occur when residents are dashing from facility to facility in the middle of a rotation.

Since UCF opened its medical school, Orlando Health and Florida Hospital have also added or expanded their residency programs and the College of Medicine hopes to work with the two large hospital organizations and other area healthcare providers to add additional residency slots.

“Our community has already benefited from new and expanded residency programs at our two long-term hospital partners – Florida Hospital and Orlando Health,” German said. “Increasing the number of residency programs will create a better and stronger health delivery system for us all.”

Special thanks to the team that led the residency application process. In addition to Drs. Colón-Molero and Sanchez-Jimenez, they include:

Dr. Diane Davey, assistant dean, graduate medical education

Dr. Abdo Asmar, associate program director

Dr. Adam Golden, associate program director

Dr. Ejaz Ghaffar, Osceola site director

Mary Beth Harris, GME coordinator


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