Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine and Five Palm Beach County Hospitals  will form a consortium for Graduate Medical Education.

Officials from said institutions signed a formal agreement  to fulfill their commitment to increasing medical residency positions in Palm Beach County

The establishment of this consortium of healthcare providers furthers the University’s commitment to increase much needed medical residency positions in Palm Beach County, to ensure that the region will continue to have an adequate and well-trained physician workforce.

Medical residencies take between three to seven years to complete depending on the specialty, and are required as part of the training for medical school graduates to become board-certified physicians.

We are extremely pleased to formalize the great relationships we have forged with our hospital partners.”  – FAU President Mary Jane Saunders

Collaborating with these five outstanding hospitals will substantially enrich the educational opportunities available for our medical students, residents and faculty, and will ultimately benefit the generations of patients for whom they will care.”

The consortium will provide access to clinical settings for healthcare education, research and patient care services to support and enhance the college’s clinical training programs for residents.

Working with our local university offers a tremendous opportunity for furthering medical education and improving quality of care in Palm Beach County.” – Jerry Fedele president & CEO Boca Raton Regional Hospital

Furthermore, the creation of this consortium benefits the healthcare systems, as the hospitals will play a central role, in collaboration with FAU’s College of Medicine, by serving as a training site for residencies in key specialties.”

The creation of this Graduate Medical Education Consortium will play a critical role in addressing the looming shortage of physicians in this region.” – Michael L. Friedland vice president of medical programs & dean of FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine

Bethesda Memorial Hospital is extremely pleased to partner with Florida Atlantic University to provide invaluable support to Palm Beach County’s future physicians through the Graduate Medical Education consortium.” –  Robert B. Hill president & CEO Bethesda Memorial Hospital

On behalf of West Boca Medical Center, we are very proud to be partnering with this Graduate Medical Education consortium, which will further our commitment to providing outstanding patient care in this region.” – Mitch Feldman CEO West Boca Medical Center

Statistics from the 2009 Association of American Colleges (AAMC) State Physician Workforce Database indicate that as of 2008, 59 percent of the physicians who completed their residency training in Florida remained in Florida to establish their medical practices (compared to the national GME retention rate of 45 percent), placing Florida fourth nationally in the retention of residency program completers in state practice.

The retention rate for individuals who complete both medical school and residency training in Florida is even higher at 75 percent. Despite the critical link between adequate access to residency and fellowship training and an adequate supply of physicians, Florida ranks 45th nationally in terms of allopathic residency positions per 100,000 state population.

The AAMC has also expressed concern about proposals to reduce Medicare funding for graduate medical education. According to key findings on new physician shortage estimates reported by the AAMC in 2010 (based on projections by the Center for Workforce Studies):

1. The number of medical school students continues to increase, adding 7,000 graduates every year over the next decade. It is estimated that at least a15 percent increase in residency training slots (adding another 4,000 physicians a year to the pipeline) is needed;

2. Between now and 2015, the year after health care reforms are scheduled to take effect, the shortage of doctors across all specialties will quadruple. While previous projections showed a baseline shortage of 39,600 doctors in 2015, current estimates bring that number closer to 63,000, with a worsening of shortages through 2025;

3. There also will be a substantial shortage of non-primary care specialists. In 2015, the U.S. will face a shortage of 33,100 physicians in specialties such as cardiology, oncology and emergency medicine;

4.With the U.S. Census Bureau projecting a 36 percent growth in the number of Americans over age 65, and nearly one-third of all physicians expected to retire in the next decade, the need for timely access to high-quality care will be greater than ever.