Aug. 8, 2011
FLORIDA STATE AND LEE MEMORIAL HEALTH SYSTEM ANNOUNCE PHYSICIAN
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida State University College of Medicine and
the Lee Memorial Health System Board of Directors today announced plans
to create a family medicine residency program in Fort Myers.
The program, expected to produce six new family practice physicians a
year when at full capacity, will be the first allopathic residency
program south of Tampa/St. Petersburg along Florida’s southwest coast.
Among the fastest growing regions in the state, the area is in need of
more physicians to take care of a population that grew by more than 40
percent in Lee County between 2000 and 2010.
“This is an exciting first for southwest Florida,” said Richard Akin,
chairman of the board of Lee Memorial Health System. “Bringing a medical
residency program to our community will improve the delivery of health
care to our residents, and the opportunity to partner with Florida State
University’s medical school enhances our community’s reputation as
The family medicine residency program will be based at Lee Memorial
Hospital with the Florida State University College of Medicine as its
institutional sponsor. The program could begin taking applications from
prospective residents as early as 2012 and admit its first class in July
Medical school graduates are required to complete residency training in
their chosen specialty in order to gain board certification and become
an independently practicing physician. Numerous studies have shown that
most physicians end up practicing near where they completed residency
(and in some cases fellowship) training.
At present, Florida ranks 43rd nationally in the number of residents per
100,000 population, despite being the fourth-most populous state in the
“In reaching our 10th anniversary with full enrollment and a great track
record of success, we are now seeing the need to have more residency
programs around the state to train our graduates and provide Florida
communities with the doctors they most need,” said John P. Fogarty,
M.D., dean of the College of Medicine, a board-certified family
physician and chair of the Florida Council of Medical School Deans.
“One of the top priorities of my fellow medical school deans here in
Florida is to support increasing the number of residency positions in
To date, 450 physicians have graduated from the FSU College of Medicine,
which first accepted students in 2001. Family medicine and internal
medicine are the top two residency program choices for College of
In 2011, 17 percent of Florida State’s 114 medical school graduates
entered family medicine residency programs, with more than half of those
heading out-of-state for residency training.
Nationally, 8.4 percent of all graduating U.S. medical students chose
family medicine in 2011.
“Even though the number of our graduates to complete residency training
at this point is relatively small, there is evidence that when they
train in Florida it keeps them in Florida, especially in the communities
where their training takes place,” said Alma Littles, M.D., senior
associate dean for medical education and academic affairs and a former
Florida Family Physician of the Year.
“For example, all seven College of Medicine alumni who completed a
family medicine residency program in Tallahassee in June now are
practicing in North Florida,” Littles said.
Of the 47 FSU College of Medicine graduates to complete graduate medical
education in Florida, 42 (89 percent) are now practicing in Florida.
Funding for graduate medical education comes from a variety of sources,
primarily from the federal government through Medicare. The number of
federally funded residency training slots was capped in 1997 by the
Balanced Budget Act. Florida has seen dramatic population increases in
the interim, but its available number of residency slots has held
“As the baby boomer population ages we are going to need more primary
care physicians in our community,” said Scott Nygaard, M.D., chief
medical officer of physician services for Lee Memorial Health System.
“We are creating this training program to address that need, and we are
making the necessary financial commitment to create a pipeline of
primary care physicians who will make southwest Florida their home.”
The residency program will be the fourth for the FSU College of
Medicine, which also sponsors programs in pediatrics and
obstetrics-gynecology (in Pensacola) and internal medicine (in
“The College of Medicine commends Lee Memorial Health System for
recognizing the return on investment to the patient community by
training more primary care physicians, despite limitations in federal
funding,” said Christopher Mulrooney, Ph.D., assistant dean for graduate
medical education and chief operating officer of the College of Medicine
faculty practice plan.
“The reality is that health care cannot be provided to those who need it
without enough providers to do the job. Lee Memorial Health System
understands that reality.”
About Lee Memorial Health System
Open since 1916, Lee Memorial Health System is the sixth largest public
health system in the United States and the largest community-owned
health system in Southwest Florida. With more than 10,000 employees, the
system is made up of four acute care hospitals and two specialty
hospitals, as well as outpatient centers, walk-in medical centers and
primary care physician offices. An award-winning health care system, it
provides regional programs, such as our Trauma Center and Children’s
Hospital, which serve our community members from Tampa to Miami. Visit
www.leememorial.org for more information.