Development of an internal medicine residency program in northwest Arkansas by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Northwest got a boost today from a $98,000 grant by the Blue & You Foundation of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
The Blue & You Foundation awarded $98,000 to the consortium of UAMS Northwest and five hospital systems in northwest Arkansas that are teaming up to create an internal medicine residency program. The program will give medical school graduates additional experience practicing medicine under supervision of a physician in a hospital or clinic.
The residency program, which hopes to admit its first group of eight physicians in July 2014, is moving through the accreditation process. The three-year program would have a total of 24 residents, admitting eight each year.
“Preparing physicians in the region to serve as supervisors and mentors for resident physicians is a critical step in establishing this new internal residency program,” said UAMS Dan Rahn, M.D. “The program will mean more physicians starting their careers in Arkansas — and hopefully remaining.
Patrick O’Sullivan, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation joined UAMS officials to announce the grant to theNorthwest Arkansas Graduate Medical Education Consortium. The foundation also awarded a $117,000 grant to the new physician assistant program in the College of Health Professions (CHP) at UAMS.
“The Blue & You Foundation is pleased to award these grants to further plans to educate new physicians and physician assistants in Arkansas,” Sullivan said.
Five hospital systems in northwest Arkansas will host resident physicians — Mercy Rogers, Mercy Fort Smith, the Springdale-based Northwest Health System, the Sparks Health System in Fort Smith and the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks.
“This effort brings together five hospitals for training in a specialty — internal medicine — that is in great demand so this grant is a critical step in getting the program started,” said Peter O. Kohler, M.D., vice chancellor for Northwest Arkansas Region.
The Physician Assistant program is expected to enroll its first students in May 2013. It is now moving through the accreditation process. CHP Dean Douglas Murphy, Ph.D., said identifying physicians who will provide training and clinical experience for physician assistant students is vital to the program’s development.
“Expanding access to primary care was a goal in creating our physician assistant program and this grant provides needed support to carry it forward,” said Murphy said.
Physician assistants conduct physical exams, diagnose, order diagnostic tests, write prescriptions and manage acute illness and chronic disease with the supervision of a physician. The program will be a full-time, 28-month master’s degree program where students will receive classroom instruction and gain experience treating real patients in the clinics and hospitals of clinical partners.
Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield established the Blue & You Foundation in 2001 as a charitable foundation to promote better health in Arkansas. The Blue & You Foundation awards grants annually to nonprofit or governmental organizations and programs that positively affect the health of Arkansans. The foundation announced Thursday a total of $2,237,910 in grants to 33 health improvement programs in Arkansas.
UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 775 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com.