THE ISSUE: Citrus Memorial Hospital’s graduate medical residency program.

OUR OPINION: Commitment is good for the community, the hospital and especially the medical community.

During July, Citrus Memorial Hospital welcomed 20 first-year internal medicine residents to join the 15 it accepted in last year’s inaugural class, who are now second-year residents. That’s 35 more physicians in our county, which for years has been federally designated as a Medically Underserved Area and Health Professional Shortage Area.

The Citrus Memorial program is part of a larger graduate medical education consortium, ongoing since 2017, between University of South Florida and Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) Florida. HCA leases and operates Citrus Memorial Hospital.

The hope, of course, is that at least some of the new physicians will complete their residency here in Citrus County and stay to practice medicine. That’s what happened for Oak Hill, another HCA hospital, in nearby Brooksville.

Nationwide, and even throughout Florida, there are more applicants than residency slots. CMH has said it received thousands of applications and conducted hundreds of interviews before deciding on the 20 members of this year’s Graduate Medical Education (GME) program.

Citrus Memorial and HCA are serious about “growing our own” next generation of physicians. A building across from the main hospital is being converted for the GME program’s use, creating areas for classrooms, auditorium, study spaces, offices, work spaces and sleep rooms for residents.

A great deal of effort is required on all sides to establish and successfully run such a medical residency program. We applaud the strong commitment of HCA and Citrus Memorial’s leadership, and the leadership of the mentoring physicians who work so closely with the residents.

Citrus County is a welcoming place, and we hope the residents feel it. This program is a win for them, for CMH, the medical community and individual patients, as well as for the community at large. In the best scenario, the graduate medical residents will become our county’s newest regular residents at the conclusion of their programs.

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