Citrus Memorial Hospital Residency Program
Innovation in Healthcare Award
Citrus County’s first medical residency program began in early July, making Citrus Memorial Hospital a teaching hospital for Internal Medicine specialists. The three-year program has started with 15 residents and will add 15-20 more each year, for a total of 50. The program will prepare new doctors for their medical careers, involve local physicians as clinical teaching faculty and provide opportunities for the residents to remain in the county as practicing physicians — a win all around for this Innovation in Healthcare awardee.
“We have the capacity to train the next generation of medical professionals,” said Raylene Platel, M.D., CMH’s chief medical officer. “The community needs it and the medical staff has been very engaged.”
Platel noted that Citrus County already has a training program for Physician Assistant students. Now, with the medical residency program, “we’re becoming an incubator for healthcare professionals.”
“There has been enthusiasm across the board, from the medical staff, administration, nursing, and in the community,” said Jeff Jordan, M.D., program director. “From the moment I got here I knew it was going to be a great spot.”
CMH began the application process in January 2018. After a site visit by members of the accreditation body, the residency program was approved in April. Even though it was late in the year, CMH received more than 700 applications from medical school graduates. From there, 15 students were hand-picked to be the county’s first internal medicine residents.
The residents live in Citrus County, renting or purchasing homes. For three years, they will be fully immersed in medicine, and the lifestyle, here.
“In internal medicine, we take care of adults,” said Jordan. “The residents will experience general internal medicine, both inpatient and outpatient, but they also will have the opportunity to rotate with various specialists and learn from them. That’s a huge advantage for them — working directly with experienced physicians.”
“Because people move to Citrus County from all over the country, we treat patients with the full spectrum of diseases,” added Platel. “The residents will get excellent training here.”
“I wanted to get my training in a community hospital, not a big urban center,” said Linda Klumpp, M.D., one of the residents. “Plus, I’m from Jacksonville, so this is the best of both worlds for me.”
“I like the idea of being part of a new program,” said Rony Shah, M.D., another resident. “We get to work to build the program together and set the standard for residents who come after us. It really drove me to want to be part of this.”
Klumpp and Shah said the reception from the hospital, patients, and the community has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Patients have been so receptive to us, as well as the staff. When we walk through the halls, physicians stop and invite us to come by so they can teach us,” said Klumpp. “I love the county, too, because there’s so much to do outdoors. I love running on the trails and visiting the springs.”
“It feels like everyone is excited we’re here. I think the patients like seeing fresh new faces. They understand this is a teaching hospital now and they want to help,” said Shah, adding that the welcome from the community has been surprising to him.
“I’m from Chicago so this is a big change for me,” he said. “I didn’t expect people to be so nice. Southern hospitality is really true! People have been so welcoming; they seem to appreciate us coming to a small town for training.”
The program’s overarching goal is to have at least some of the residents remain in Citrus County. According to Platel, in the coming years Citrus County will need at least 70 internal medicine physicians.
“Florida has one of the best retention rates; 59 percent of doctors trained in Florida remain in Florida. The physicians who train here get to know and like the community, the hospital, the staff and they know they can be effective here,” she said. “We hope to grow our own and provide the county with the physicians it needs.”
Jordan agrees and added with a laugh: “I came from the Midwest and I’m never leaving here. My goal is to train them so they can take care of me.”