Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine has received initial accreditation from the national Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) for University-sponsored residency programs in general surgery and emergency medicine, in collaboration with its member teaching hospitals in the FAU College of Medicine Graduate Medical Education (GME) Consortium.
The six-year general surgery training program is based at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, the primary site for the program, as well as Bethesda Hospital East, and Tenet HealthCare System’s Delray Medical Center, St. Mary’s Medical Center and West Boca Medical Center. The three-year emergency medicine training program is based at Bethesda Hospital East, the primary site for the program, as well as St. Mary’s Medical Center and Delray Medical Center. All five hospitals are member teaching hospitals in the FAU College of Medicine GME Consortium.
FAU’s general surgery program has been approved for a total of 45 clinical positions and up to seven positions for a unique value-added year of scholarship and research, making this program one of the largest in the nation. FAU’s College of Medicine also has formed a new Department of Surgery that includes more than 240 affiliated, full-time and part-time faculty. It will serve as the academic home for undergraduate and graduate medical education in surgery, and aims to build state-of-the-art research programs that will contribute to the regional and national reputation of FAU and its College of Medicine.
Surgical specialties within the department include general surgery and its various established subspecialties, as well as orthopedics, neurosurgery, urology, ophthalmology, and otolaryngology/head and neck surgery, among others.
FAU’s emergency medicine residency program has been approved for a total of 18 positions, with the first class of six residents matching in 2017. Resident rotations in the program will include emergency medicine, trauma, medical ICU, surgical ICU, pediatric ICU, and anesthesia.
“Together with our outstanding hospital partners in the GME Consortium we are fulfilling our commitment to ensure that we continue to have a strong physician workforce and an enhanced health care delivery system in this region,” said Arthur J. Ross, III, M.D., M.B.A., interim dean and professor of FAU’s College of Medicine. “We are proud of our medical school’s residency program leadership team and our hospital partners for this landmark accomplishment for our community.”
New research on the looming physician shortage was recently released by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and reveals that within the next decade, the United States will face a shortage of physicians ranging between 61,700 and 94,700, with a significant shortage showing among many surgical specialties.
“Our new program will provide an outstanding surgical education and experience for residents and will enable them to work alongside top surgeons in this region on a variety of emergent and elective cases ranging from colorectal to cancer to minimally invasive, trauma and vascular surgeries,” said Thomas Genuit, M.D., M.B.A., inaugural chair of FAU’s Department of Surgery and inaugural program director for FAU’s residency program in general surgery, who was instrumental in establishing the new department and residency program at FAU. “The program and FAU’s graduate medical education efforts will help to elevate the level of care for all patients.”
At this time, the surgery program resident selection committee has already reviewed more than 100 residency candidate applications and has interviewed more than 40 highly qualified candidates. Fifteen of the top candidates will be selected to fill the initial residency positions which will begin on July 1.
According to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), emergency care physicians care for nearly 130 million patients each year, and emergency visit rates have increased at twice the rate of growth of the U.S. population from 1997 to 2007.
“We are committed to building a premier academic emergency medicine program in southern Florida,” said Richard D. Shih, M.D., a professor of clinical biomedical science in FAU’s College of Medicine and inaugural program director of FAU’s emergency medicine residency program. “Our program will focus not only on producing excellent emergency medicine clinicians, but also on producing academic leaders in this field.”
In fall 2011, the FAU College of Medicine GME Consortium was formed in partnership with FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Bethesda Hospital East, and Tenet HealthCare system’s Delray Medical Center, St. Mary’s Medical Center and West Boca Medical Center to establish residency programs in specialties that would serve their communities.
“The addition of our newest residency programs is an important milestone for our University, our hospital partners, and especially for the patients who will benefit from these programs,” said Lee A. Learman, M.D., Ph.D., senior associate dean for graduate medical education and academic affairs, and designated institutional officer.
“Increasing residency positions is critical to ensuring that we attract and retain physicians in Florida to address our growing and aging population needs in the state. With these new programs and other GME efforts, FAU is going to be a key contributor to the effort of securing the availability of high quality physicians in Florida for the future.”
FAU’s first University-sponsored residency in internal medicine commenced with the first class of 36 residents in July 2014, and will bring a total of 96 physicians to FAU. Additional residencies in various specialties will follow as community needs suggest.
First and foremost, yes, this will grow FAU's reputation and bring more physicians to stay to practice in the area. ACGME residency programs affiliated with universities are considered more desirable than, say, working for a rural hospital that just started a residency because they can't get physicians out there otherwise. These new FAU residents will find that Boynton/Delray/Boca is a highly desirable place to live compared to some of these 10k person towns surrounded by farmland 2 hours from the nearest airport.
FAU's internal medicine started with a large class and had trouble filling it, so they took on a lot of people who didn't match through traditional means as well as some international medical graduates (IMGs) from the for-profit schools with names like "American University of the Caribbean". They must have done better this year because I didn't see their name in the scramble listings. To be fair, internal medicine has a tough time filling across the nation because it's a non-competitive, "we just need bodies" specialty vs something like emergency medicine or surgery, which are considered mid-competitive specialties and have the luxury of turning away candidates with red flags on their record. I expect FAU to mostly fill if not completely fill based on competitiveness alone.
That said, general surgery is typically a 5 year residency program, which is already longer than most residency programs (3-4 years), only being equal in length to orthopedic surgery (5 years) and less than neurosurgery (7 years). Thus a 6 year surgical residency program will be a little harder to fill because people want to get out and start making doctor money, quite honestly. An extra year for research sounds good if you want some kind of competitive fellowship afterwards, but 5 years is generally enough time to punch out a research project anyway and if you're interested in a fellowship you tend to want to go to a residency program that already has that fellowship because programs like their own - and FAU won't immediately have that. Point being, the research year seems like it's better for the university's reputation than the resident physician's, and I know several people who avoided 4 year emergency medicine programs because 3 year residency programs. Just the nature of the beast. Want to get out and start making doctor money.
I will say that there are some excellent surgeons at Bethesda (I can't speak for the others since I didn't rotate there) who will undoubtedly make good teachers. In general one of the things these places will have to do is build up a "critical mass" of attendings who not only want to teach residents but are good teachers to boot. Bethesda has academic components already - daily streamed video lectures from various sites and a weekly tumor board - so it's not just working and seeing patients now.
With regards to emergency medicine, I feel conflicted about Bethesda East being the main site. First of all, it's not a Level 1 trauma center, which is crucial for EM training, although my understanding is that Delray Medical Center is and probably should be the main site for that reason. Bethesda East's complement of physicians, who I trained under, are a mixed bag - mostly good, but a handful of them are outright malignant towards students (and likely residents) so rotating students will pick up on that and be less inclined to rank the site highly. But that's a personnel problem that may flush itself out over time as there tends to be more turnover in emergency medicine than in other fields of medicine. The FAU emergency medicine residency will be a good place to learn how to identify and treat drug overdoses, however, as Delray in particular has a bad drug problem (heroin, flakka, etc)
For what it's worth, apparently this is a step ladder towards other residencies so once you have surgery, you can have anesthesiology and OB/GYN, so I believe that's on the horizon as well. Outside of the lack of trauma - which isn't as big of a deal for anesthesiology as it is for emergency medicine - I think Bethesda would be a great place to learn anesthesiology because the doctors there are great. The anesthesiologist I rotated under is brilliant, another used to run the residency at UF, etc so the people are there to get it going.