EVANSVILLE—With Indiana facing a statewide physician shortage, Indiana University School of Medicine is working to help fill the gap with the first internal medicine residency in southwestern Indiana to serve a 10-county region.
Recruitment for the program will take place this year, with the first residents beginning in 2020. The goal of the program is to increase access to much-needed primary care for rural and underserved populations in southwest Indiana. Resident physicians will complete training at Good SamaritanHospital in Vincennes and St. Vincent Evansville sites.
Good Samaritan has a large underserved primary care base in southern Indiana, which extends almost 100 miles into four counties of southeastern Illinois. St. Vincent is a regional care provider, with significant subspecialty resources and a large referral population from southern Indiana, southeastern Illinois as well as western Kentucky. Indiana ranks 39th in the nation in physicians per capita, with many areas in southwest Indiana designated as health professional shortage areas. The new residency program will accept 16 categorical residents and eight preliminary interns each year—for a total of 56 at any one time.
“We know that physicians who complete their undergraduate and graduate training in the same communities are more likely to make personal and professional connections there, and thus result in more physicians remaining in the region to serve patients,” said Robert Ficalora, MD, FACP, program director for the Southwest Indiana Internal Medicine Residency and a professor of clinical medicine at IU School of Medicine-Evansville.
The ACGME’s approval came with high praise from the council, which “commended the program for its demonstrated substantial compliance with the ACGME’s institutional and/or program requirements for graduate medical education without citations.” The ACGME also issued an additional commendation for “a well-prepared application that demonstrates familiarity with the program requirements and plans for compliance including areas for growth and further development.
The new program is part of the school’s effort to increase the number of residency positions throughout Indiana. Working with the Graduate Medical Education Board, IU School of Medicine is leading feasibility studies for new training programs with an emphasis on primary care, psychiatry, emergency medicine and surgery.
In 2012, IU School of Medicine–Evansville began working collaboratively with a consortium of four regional hospitals to build a pipeline of local practicing physicians to serve the needs of the region for decades to come. Two other residency programs recently approved include family medicine at Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper and psychiatry located at Good Samaritan and Deaconess Hospital. Both programs begin in July 2019.
Elsewhere in the state, IU School of Medicine partnered with IU Health Arnett to launch a family medicine residency in 2018.
IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the U.S. and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability.