Sixteen medical school graduates have become the UCF College of Medicine’s first residents in a new partnership program designed to increase the number of primary care physicians in Central Florida. The residents began orientation in a new internal medicine training program offered in collaboration with the Orlando VA Medical Center and Osceola Regional Medical Center.

“We are all building something from scratch. You are pioneers for Central Florida,” Dr. Angel Colón-Molero, deputy chief of staff of the Orlando VA Medical Center and program director of the new residency program, told the residents. “Always remember, you are here to take care of patients. Being a doctor is not about knowing everything. It is about being human.” Also welcoming them was Dr. Aida Sanchez-Jimenez, chief medical officer at Osceola Regional, who serves as site director of graduate medical education. In their first year, the residents will do their hospital training at Osceola Regional and their outpatient training at the VA.

The 16 residents were chosen from 2,546 total applicants and after 187 interviews. “There were many, many who wanted to be in your spot,” said Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the medical school told them. “We’re really, really glad you chose us… I hope all of you will know that this is your UCF College of Medicine now. You are part of the College of Medicine family. ”

Dr. German talked about the lessons she learned from her internal medicine residency – including teamwork and “a sense of purpose, of making a difference every minute of every day. Brace yourself,” she said, “because residency prepares you for things you can’t imagine.”

The nation’s top residency programs provide medical school graduates with a wide variety of patients to serve. UCF’s partnership program will offer residents the opportunity to care for a diverse patient population – including military veterans and residents of Osceola County, one of Florida’s fastest-growing and most diverse communities. Osceola has one of the state’s fastest growing Hispanic populations, and about 30 percent of the new residents speak Spanish as their primary or secondary language. In addition to caring for patients in hospital and out-patient setting, residents will participate in classroom and simulation training at the medical school.

As part of their first day, the residents participated in a new version of “The Good Doctor,” a UCF tradition. Just as Dr. German does each year with first-year M.D. students, Dr. Abdo Asmar, UCF’s assistant professor of internal medicine and associate director of the new residency program, asked the physicians to describe the traits of a resident they would want caring for the most beloved person in their life. Their list included words like “honesty,” “responsible,” “confident but not arrogant,” “patient” and “empathy.”

UCF’s first residents are:

Mo Abdelsalam, Faraz Afridi, Zahra Ahmad, Anneliese Beaubrun, Gerard Chaaya, Ayden Cooper, Razeck Dick, Bruna Ferreira, Lillian Gonzales, Mustafa Kinaan, James Mellone, Emanuel Nazario, Arnaldo Reyes-Esteves, Kevin Santos, Leslie Soto, Joana Vargas