By Wendy Sarubbi | March 16, 2018 5:47 pm

Katherine Choi loved building the UCF College of Medicine as a student. So when a leader of UCF’s new partnership obstetrics and gynecology residency talked to Choi about building its new program, her reaction was swift and certain: “Let’s do this.”

On Friday, Choi got the opportunity, matching into an OB-GYN specialty at North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville, a new graduate medical education program established by UCF and Hospital Corporation of America’s North Florida Division.

She is one of 13 UCF Class of 2018 medical students who will do all or part of their residency training in UCF-HCA programs in Gainesville, Ocala and Central Florida. With this year’s match, the HCA consortium added 162 new residents and fellows, bringing its total to 345 in July.

“We are pleased to welcome these outstanding young physicians into our UCF-HCA consortium starting this summer,” said Dr. Diane Davey, associate dean for graduate medical education. “We are excited to be building new residency programs to improve access to care and help alleviate Florida’s physician shortage.”

Eight of the UCF graduates will to through the UCF-HCA transitional-year program at Osceola Regional Medical Center. Certain specialties — such as ophthalmology, radiology and dermatology – require students to do a one-year transitional year of training that focuses on general medicine.

Medical student Nicole Spitzer said she is thrilled to be staying in Orlando for another year before moving to LSU for ophthalmology. After Friday’s match ceremonies, she wore an LSU baseball cap as she stood with Dr. Abdo Asmar, program director for UCF’s transitional and internal medicine residencies at Osceola Regional.

“I’m really looking forward for my transitional year so I can really learn how to be The Good Doctor,” Spitzer said.

As a faculty member, Asmar said he was thrilled to be see his former medical students train as physicians. “It’s an amazing opportunity to teach them as medical students and then see them grow into real doctors caring for patients,” he said.

The UCF-HCA consortium now has 21 residencies and fellowships. The partnership hopes to add more than 600 residency positions to the state by 2020 to help address Florida’s physician shortage.

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