UTHSCT’s Family Medicine Residency Program celebrates 25 years of training primary care doctors for East Texas

Monday, September 13, 2010

For Senior Expo tab, Longview News-Journal, Sept. 21, 2010:

It’s easy to take your family doctor for granted.

This is the doctor who is always there for you, treating your colds and flu, managing chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, and providing compassionate care at the end of life.

While family physicians are the backbone of health care in the United States, many areas don’t have enough of them. And the shortage is growing.

Unless more primary care physicians are recruited and trained, by 2025 the state will have 40,000 fewer physicians than it needs.

In East Texas, we are fortunate to have the Family Medicine Residency Program at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, which provides highly trained family doctors for communities throughout East Texas.

In addition, Good Shepherd Health System and UTHSCT announced a partnership in March to create a three-year internal medicine residency program at Good Shepherd Medical Center. Internal medicine physicians, like family medicine doctors, provide primary care.

UTHSCT will be the program sponsor and Good Shepherd will serve as the primary teaching hospital. The goal is to have the first Internal Medicine Residency Program class begin in July 2012.

The rigorous, three-year Family Medicine Residency Program is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

Since it began in 1985, it has graduated 139 physicians, with about half of them making East Texas their home, said Jonathan MacClements, MD, chair of UTHSCT’s Department of Family Medicine.

“As the population of East Texans grows and ages, more primary care physicians will be needed to take care of them. Graduates of our Family Medicine Residency Program – trained right here at UT Health Science Center – will help fill that need, providing excellent and compassionate care to thousands of people in this region,” Dr. MacClements said.

Your personal primary care physician knows you well, which is important as you grow older and your medical needs become more complex, he added.

“Your family doctor can help you navigate the health care system and make sure you have access to quality health care. Your doctor also knows your medical history and thus when to refer you to a specialist,” Dr. MacClements said.

As director of UTHSCT’s Family Medicine Residency Program, he knows the difference that family medicine physicians can make in the health of the community.

“Training the next generation of physicians is critically important to ensure that patients of all ages continue to receive the high quality health care that we have become accustomed to in East Texas,” Dr. MacClements said.

For 60 years, The University of Texas Health Science Center has provided excellent patient care and cutting-edge treatment, specializing in pulmonary disease, cancer, heart disease, primary care, and the disciplines that support them. UTHSCT’s annual operating budget of $125 million represents a major economic impact of over $287 million to the Northeast Texas region. In FY 2009, scientists in the Center for Biomedical Research were awarded 80 competitive grants and contracts totaling $14.6 million. As the academic medical center for Northeast Texas, its graduate medical education program – with residencies in family medicine and occupational medicine – provide doctors for many communities throughout the region and beyond.

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