A new UCF-HCA Healthcare fellowship will help Central Florida women and couples seeking medical treatment for infertility — and is just the third such training program in the state and the 52rd in the nation.

The three-year reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) fellowship recently received ACGME accreditation to begin this summer and will be open to physicians who have completed a four-year obstetrics and gynecology residency. It will be based at HCA Florida Osceola Hospital, making it the nation’s first community-based program outside of a major urban area. Because most REI programs are located in large cities, many patients must travel long distances to see a specialist.

“Our consortium is committed to educating the next generation of physicians and addressing Florida’s, and the country’s, REI physician shortage,” says Stephen Cico, UCF’s associate dean for graduate medical education and the UCF-HCA graduate medical education consortium’s designated institutional official. “Our REI program in a community hospital, will help increase access to care for many women.”

Fellows will gain their clinical experience at The IVF Center a leading reproductive clinic with locations across Central Florida.

A unique aspect of REI training programs is the required extensive research experience. UCF-HCA’s new program will incorporate metabolic researchers from the College of Medicine’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, clinical researchers from Nemours Children’s Health, and physician-scientists from The IVF Center.

Michal Masternak, a professor and scientist at the Burnett School, will serve as one of the core faculty research mentors for the fellowship. He said the research collaboration will allow young physicians to become directly involved in discoveries funded by agencies such as the National Institutes of Health.

“Through this partnership, we will provide REI fellows with mentorship and experience using advanced methods in genetics and molecular biology,” he says. “I am excited that the Burnett School can be a part of this prestigious new program taking part in advanced training of future physicians.”

With the newest program, the UCF-HCA consortium has 38 residencies and fellowships from Tallahassee to Greater Orlando, making it one of the fastest-growing GME programs in the state with approximately 600 physicians in training this summer.

A distinction of the REI fellowship is that it’s HCA’s first in the nation. “We are excited to see our strong partnership through the UCF College of Medicine/HCA Florida Healthcare Graduate Medical Education Consortium continue to grow in supporting the next generation of physicians in a range of much-needed specialties,” says Monique Butler, chief medical officer for HCA Healthcare’s North Florida Division. “Through a broad range of clinical experience and academic support services such as research and curriculum development, we hope to inspire our residents’ passion to care for and improve human life.” 

Reproductive endocrinologists are trained to treat infertility through surgery, medicine and procedures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). Through the partnership with The IVF Center, fellows will work alongside experienced physicians who are nationally known leaders in reproductive medicine.

“The IVF Center is committed to fostering the next generation of leaders in reproductive medicine and is excited to welcome fellows who share our passion for improving patient outcomes and advancing scientific knowledge in the field,” says Mark Trolice, who founded and directs the center and will serve as associate program director of the fellowship. He is also a professor at the UCF College of Medicine.

Laurel Stadtmauer, also a medical school professor and IVF Center physician, will serve as program director and said the fellowship increases opportunities for advancing the field of reproductive medicine.

“We are thrilled to be granted accreditation for our REI Fellowship program and to be among the top programs around the country,” Staudtmauer says. “This will allow us to further our mission of excellence in patient care, education and research in reproductive medicine.”