© 2023 | WUWF Public Media
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514
850 474-2787
NPR for Florida's Great Northwest
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

West Florida Healthcare To Train 'Tomorrow's Physicians Today'

Dave Dunwoody
WUWF Public Media

New partnership from West Florida will train doctors in six fields.

More than 180 residents in a half dozen medical specialties form the inaugural class of the New Graduate Medical Education Residency Program at West Florida Healthcare in Pensacola. The hospital is teaming with the University of Central Florida Medical School.

West Florida Healthcare, its parent firm HCA, and UCF are teaming up to launch Northwest Florida’s largest physician residency training program.

“We are training tomorrow’s physicians today; attracting and retaining physician talent is critical to expanding access to care, and to improving the health of our community,” said Gay Nord, West Florida CEO. “Experience has shown us that residents often choose to stay in the areas where they are trained.”

Nord told the residents that the hospital is committed to providing a top-notch training experience.

“Your success is our success; and we know that you will be a great addition to our patient care team,” Nord said. “We also know you’ll do great things here that will guide and support you into the future, as you continue to become extraordinary physicians.”

The HCA/University of Central Florida Consortium has been in place since 2015, and is growing across the state, according to Dr. Lisa Dixon who’s designated to oversee the program.

“Since then, we’ve developed over 28 successful physician residency training programs in Orlando, Ocala, Gainesville, and now here in Pensacola,” said Dixon.

HCA Healthcare is the nation’s largest sponsor of residency and fellowship programs for doctors. Currently, the program includes 61 teaching hospitals in 16 states, which include more than 5,000 residents and fellows, in more than 300 programs.

“Today we are welcoming our first residents, in physical medicine and rehabilitation; and obstetrics and gynecology, said Dixon. “In the coming year, we’re developing programs in emergency medicine; general surgery, internal medicine, and psychiatry.”

In Florida, HCA Healthcare is home to the largest teaching hospital system, with more than 1,900 residents and fellows at 25 hospitals.

“Residency is that three to seven-year time period that a physician — an M.D. — spends training to practice medicine in a chosen field and their chosen specialty,” said Dr. Julie DeCesare, one of the inaugural program directors in OB/GYN residency.

“Reading in evidence-based medicine are experiential based processes; here at HCA/UCF leads to innovative, real-world patient health solutions that improve medical best practices, research, and regulatory requirements,” DeCesare said. “As well as meeting staffing needs.”

“I am Michelle Saltzman, your state representative for Florida House District-1, which is this district; but I’m also a patient of West Florida Hospital — my whole family utilizes this hospital,” she said.

She told the gathering in the West Florida Hospital’s main lobby that the new residency partnership in Northwest Florida is an “absolute win-win.”

“To have this incredible pipeline of physicians at West Florida Healthcare and the University of Central Florida College of Medicine will produce, will mean Northwest Florida will continue to have the access of highly-trained, compassionate physicians that are being trained right here in our community,” said Saltzman.

The first two residency programs to open at West Florida Healthcare are physical medicine and rehab, along with obstetrics and gynecology. They began their training this week.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.