Internal medicine residency program at Good Shepherd Medical Center on track to accept residents in July 2012

Friday, October 8, 2010

For East Texas Health special section, Longview News-Journal, Sunday, Oct. 10:

While much of the nation faces a growing shortage of primary care doctors, leaders of the East Texas medical community are taking steps to ensure that area residents can find a physician when they need one.

A big step toward this goal occurred in March, when Good Shepherd Health System (GSHS) announced a partnership with The University of Texas Health Science Center to create a three-year internal medicine residency program, to be located at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview.

“Right now we are on track with our timeline to have the first internal medicine residents in July 2012,” said David Coultas, MD, vice president for clinical affairs at UT Health Science Center and the director of Good Shepherd’s residency program. Dr. Coultas is shown in photo at left with Jodi Allen, residency program coordinator at Good Shepherd.

Each year the program at Good Shepherd will admit 18 residents. By the time the first class graduates in 2015, the program will have 54 internal medicine residents.

And these doctors will be needed, as Edward Banos, GSHS president and chief executive officer, acknowledged at the March news conference announcing the residency program.

“Texas currently has a significant shortage of physicians, ranking 42 out of 50 states in number of physicians per capita. Even more alarming, it is projected that Texas will need an additional 40,000 doctors by 2025 to keep up with Texas’ growing population," Banos said.

"Having an internal medicine residency program in Longview will allow us to train and retain some of the best and brightest physicians graduating from top medical schools across the country,” he added.

Dr. Coultas echoed Banos’ concerns. “In Texas, we have more medical student graduates than we have slots for them to serve their residencies. That means these new doctors go out of state for their residencies. If they train in Texas, they’re more likely to stay here,” he said.

Program coordinator Jodi Allen joined Good Shepherd in February. She previously was educational resources coordinator at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where she was in charge of the internal medicine residency program.

“I enjoyed working with the residents. They were all very ambitious and driven, but had such different characters and personalities,” said Allen, who has a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Missouri, as well as nine years’ experience in college and university administration.

“I’m excited about the new program. We have some challenges, but also a lot of opportunities,” she said.

Allen will direct the daily operations of the program and ensure that it meets all of the requirements of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), which oversees medical residency programs in the United States.

The steps involved in establishing the program include recruitment of faculty, program and curriculum development, and conditional ACGME accreditation.

As an ACGME-accredited institution, UT Health Science Center is the program sponsor. In addition, a graduate medical education committee comprised of members from both facilities provides oversight.

“As the only academic medical center in Northeast Texas, it is our responsibility to lead the development of expanded physician training,” Dr. Coultas said.

That’s why it makes sense for the Health Science Center to partner with Good Shepherd on this residency program. “No other institution in our region could do this,” he added.

“This is Good Shepherd’s program. We’re here to support them and to provide the expertise needed for the residency program to grow,” Dr. Coultas said, adding that community support was crucial.

“Without the backing of the Longview community of physicians, this could not happen. It also could not happen without the backing of Good Shepherd’s leadership and board of directors. Ultimately, it’s the private physicians, the hospital, and the hospital’s leadership who will make this residency program successful,” he 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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