UCF’s College of Medicine and Hospital Corporation of America’s (HCA) North Florida Division have received approval to begin their eighth residency program – the first in general surgery – and will begin training physicians in July 2017 at Ocala Regional Medical Center.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)’s approval of the new surgical residency is especially important “because surgery is one of the highest shortage areas for physicians in the state of Florida, according to recent workforce studies,” said Dr. Diane Davey, UCF’s associate dean for graduate medical education. “This new program, which will ultimately train up to 24 residents, will help alleviate our state’s physician shortage.”

Currently, Florida ranks as 42 out of the 50 states in the number of residency positions per capita with many of Florida’s medical school graduates choosing to complete their training in other states because of  the lack of residency positions available. Much like the rest of the United States, Florida is facing a worsening physician shortage. Because most physicians tend to set up practice where they complete residency training, new residencies like the general surgery program is expected to bring more trained physicians to Florida.

Dr. Darwin Ang, program director of the surgery program, said the residency will highlight new technology and surgical innovations. “We are committed to molding this program into one that we would have chosen to train in,” Dr. Ang said.

“This is the fourth new general surgery residency started by HCA in the last two years,” Dr. Bruce Deighton, vice president of graduate medical education at HCA, said. “The addition of this new program brings us one step closer to our national goal of adding 152 new programs and 2,700 residency positions by 2020.”

In response to the physician shortage, UCF and HCA formed a partnership last October and announced they would add 580-plus new residency slots to the state by 2020 at hospitals in Central and North Central Florida. So far, the ACGME has approved seven UCF-HCA residency programs in family, internal and emergency medicine, psychiatry, and obstetrics/gynecology at Osceola Regional Medical Center, Ocala Regional Medical Center and North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville. The Orlando VA Medical Center also serves as a major training site for some of those programs. Currently, those new programs are training 121 physicians.

The surgery program will begin with six residents next summer and gradually increase to 24 residents divided over five years of training, Dr. Davey said.  In addition to working at Ocala Regional, surgical residents will also complete rotations at West Marion Hospital, which is part of the Ocala Health System, and North Florida Regional Medical Center. The nation’s best residency programs offer young physicians a variety of experiences in different hospital and outpatient settings.

Interested fourth-year medical students will be able to apply to the new program through the Electronic Residency Application Service by the end of the month. The program has the following National Resident Matching Program codes -1587440C0 and 1587440P0. For additional information on the new surgical residency, please contact Linda White, surgery residency coordinator, at 352-401-1425 or Linda.white5@hcahealthcare.com.