UCF and HCA Florida Healthcare are starting their first residency program in internal medicine at HCA Florida Ft. Walton-Destin Hospital, and are also adding the consortium’s first gastroenterology (GI) fellowship with the Orlando VA Medical Center and HCA Florida Osceola Hospital.

The two new programs recently received ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) accreditation and are seeking applicants to begin training in July 2024. With the additions, the UCF-HCA Florida Healthcare Graduate Medical Education Consortium has 37 accredited programs from the Florida panhandle to Orlando, making it one of the fastest growing in the state. By July, the consortium will have 600 physicians in training in high-need specialties that include primary care, surgery, OB-GYN, psychiatry, endocrinology, emergency medicine and geriatrics.

Stephen Cico, UCF’s associate dean for graduate medical education and the consortium’s designated institutional official (DIO), says the programs will help improve patients’ access to care and address the state’s physician shortage.

“The internal medicine residency will fill the great need in Florida for access to primary care physicians especially in the panhandle,” he says. “Their clinics and hospital will care for some of those who have the hardest time accessing medical care. The GI fellowship will provide patients in Greater Orlando with additional access to GI physicians and procedures such as colonoscopies while also providing care for GI emergencies.”

The internal medicine residency will accept 12 physicians a year for its three-year program — training 36 doctors when at full complement — and will participate in this year’s National Match Day March 15. The GI fellowship will accept two physicians a year who have completed their internal medicine residency training for its three-year program — for a total of six at full complement.

Amanda Finley will lead the internal medicine residency. She completed medical school at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and later completed residency training at Magnolia Regional Health Center in Mississippi, where she was chief resident and stayed to serve as faculty. She was founding program director and designated institutional official at Henry County Medical Center in Tennessee, where she worked with the Health Resources Service Administration to create a rural residency program.

“Our commitment to creating a healthy and innovative learning environment make our new residency an amazing place to train,” she says. “Our goal is to ensure that residents achieve clinical excellence in a supportive family environment where we focus on giving and receiving feedback that take our professional performance to the highest level.”

Vinay Katukuri will lead the GI fellowship. He completed his medical education in India and then pursued residency training at Wayne State University in Michigan. Following this, he completed his gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Michigan, followed by an advanced endoscopy fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He served as interventional faculty at Henry Ford Health System and actively participated in teaching residents and fellows, including those specializing in advanced endoscopy. While at Henry Ford Health System, he was chosen to participate in the inaugural fellowship program for entrepreneurs in digital health. Katukuri later relocated to Florida, where he established his own practice.

“In addition to meeting the community’s need for gastroenterology services, the new fellowship training program aims to improve access to colon cancer prevention, which is crucial given the rising incidence of cancer,” he says.

Graduate medical education programs are key to addressing Florida’s physician shortage because the majority of doctors locate their practices near where they completed their residency or fellowship training. Medical school graduates cannot practice medicine independently but must complete residency training in their field of specialty.