Florida is facing a shortage of physicians in nearly every specialty, especially primary care, a shortage that will be greatly felt in our growing and aging population. This shortfall results in overworked physicians, setting off a cascade of consequences in patient care, including longer wait times, shorter appointments, and often lower quality of care. In response, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine is building programs in residency training and developing pipeline programs to provide opportunities for local students to attend FAU’s medical school.
In 2014, the college launched its first residency program to train medical school graduates in internal medicine. In 2016 and 2017, it inaugurated residency programs in surgery and emergency medicine, creating training opportunities for 159 physicians in the three specialties. Initial accreditation was recently granted for residency programs in psychiatry and neurology to launch in 2018, building on the university’s expansion of graduate medical education.
Lee A. Learman, M.D., Ph.D., senior associate dean for Graduate Medical Education and Academic Affairs, attributes the program’s successful growth Expanding Advanced Medical Training to Address Physician Shortfall to the “can-do” attitude of participating faculty and hospital administrators. “I really appreciate their pioneering spirit as we navigate the natural uncertainties associated with beginning new programs,” he said.
Experts agree that one of the most effective ways to fight the physician shortage is to provide residency programs, as graduates frequently choose to practice in the same state they trained in as residents. The college’s first cohort of internal medicine residents recently completed their training; more than half are staying in Florida to practice or continue their training — a substantial step in addressing the physician shortage in South Florida.
The U.S. Census Bureau projects that Hispanics, African Americans and Asians will be the majority by 2044. Yet students of these backgrounds continue to be underrepresented in medical schools compared to their numbers in the general population. To address this racial disparity and create a physician workforce whose makeup more closely mirrors the general population, the college’s pipeline programs incentivize local minority students to pursue college and medical school at FAU.
The Healthcare Careers Outreach Program is an intensive college-access science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) enrichment program that reinforces high school curriculum through experiential learning. The program exposes students to role models, cutting-edge technology and college classrooms. Activities include medical students teaching in the public schools and high school students visiting campus to observe cases in the gross anatomy lab and test their hand-eye coordination in the Simulation Center. The program has served 1,155 students in the past two years. FAU High School, a public, dual enrollment high school embedded on campus, and the Medical Scholars Program, in partnership with Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, attract exceptional high school students to FAU. Lastly, collaborative efforts with FAU’s Harriett L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science — and targeted programs such as Star MD, for athletes to earn their B.S. and M.D. at the university — all pave the path for high-achieving students to attend FAU.
“Collectively, these programs are fulfilling our mission of attracting the best and brightest students from a diverse array of backgrounds and training them to become future physician leaders who can provide the highest quality healthcare to residents of Florida,” said Phillip M. Boiselle, M.D., dean of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine.