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Resident training expands in Corpus Christi (3/10/97)

The size and scope of family-practice residency instruction is growing in Texas' Coastal Bend with an assist from the South Texas/Border Region Health Education Initiative.

A program at Spohn Memorial Hospital in Corpus Christi, involves 30 residents in their first through third years of medical residency. Its support from the South Texas initiative will allow the program to add slots for four additional residents in July 1997, and two more, a total of 36 residents, in 1998, said Rick Edwards, MD, director of the program.

In addition, Dr. Edwards will be able to add to his faculty of six physicians, and emphasize pediatric care, obstetrics and gynecology, and additional instruction in nutrition and behavioral science.

"This comes at a time when many residency programs are finding it harder to find funds. We have the money to expand and move forward while many others can't. This makes us even more competitive to recruit new residents, and bring them to the Coastal Bend," Dr. Edwards said.

The South Texas/Border Region Health Education Initiative is a special legislative project in health-care education between The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and its partners from Laredo to the Rio Grande Valley and Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend of Texas.

The goal of residency programs is to provide the community with the physicians it needs. The Spohn program has done well. Since it began in 1973, the program has graduated 153 physicians. Of the group, 80 percent started practices in Texas, and the graduates comprise 44 percent of the family practice doctors in Nueces County, said John T. Gilliam, executive director of the Nueces County Medical Education Foundation, program sponsor. The residency program has been allied with The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio since 1991.

Residents who come to Corpus Christi under the program usually are going to stay and practice, Dr. Edwards said. "After you graduate from medical school, you are thinking about getting married, settling down, and finding a place you want to live. Many of our applicants have a special interest in South Texas, and we have many new opportunities to offer those who come to Corpus Christi," he said.

To encourage potential residents, the initiative and the South Coastal Area Health Education Center help underwrite clerkships in Corpus Christi for medical students in their third year of instruction. The organizations provide aid for housing and transportation during the clerkships, which usually last a month and give students wide exposure to clinical experience.

Contact: Jim Barrett (210) 567-2570