The Ritz Herald
From left to right: Niyomi De Silva, MD; Founding Program Director Nathan Falk, MD; Ashley Wilk, DO; and Scott Garland, Pharm-D.

Florida State University Family Medicine Residency Program Earns Accreditation

The FSUCOM faculty for the new Family Medicine Residency in Winter Haven, Fla are scheduling candidate interviews now for the inaugural residents in 2020

Published on October 28, 2019

The Florida State University College of Medicine Family Medicine Residency at BayCare Health System (Winter Haven) has received accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

The residency program was announced in early 2018 as a partnership between Florida State University College of Medicine, Winter Haven Hospital and BayCare Medical Group, with the purpose to improve access to primary care services and assist with physician recruitment efforts in Polk County.

Later in 2018, Florida State University College of Medicine hired founding Program Director Nathan P. Falk, MD. Dr. Falk’s initial responsibilities included the development of a curriculum for graduate medical education, recruitment of faculty to help train residents, and completion of the accreditation application. The application was formally submitted in May this year, with the first site visit from ACGME in August.

Also in August, the program’s Family Health Center opened. The primary care clinic, located at 1201 First St. South in Winter Haven, currently employs three full-time family medicine physicians who also serve as FSU faculty. The Center accepts appointments for patients from newborn to adult age for wellness visits, plus back-to-school and sports physicals, non-operative orthopedic care, sports medicine, women’s health, and pharmacy consultations. An open house is being held for the Family Health Center on November 14.

“It’s been a steady journey to get to this point,” said Dr. Falk. “The current faculty and I are ready to switch gears and start the next chapter of this endeavor.”

Following accreditation, the residency program begins recruiting residents. Recruitment is through an electronic and uniform system instituted and maintained by the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP). The annual process allows candidates to select and programs to simultaneously fill post-graduate training positions accredited by the ACGME. At this time of year, residency programs are reviewing candidate applications and conducting onsite interviews. In February, candidates rank their preferred residency programs, while the programs also rank the candidates they have interviewed. In March, the NRMP announces candidate matches with programs according to their rank lists. Match Day in 2020 is March 20.

The FSU program in Winter Haven is expected to accept six medical school graduates who will begin their three-year residency training in July.

“The program will be excited to welcome the first group of residents,” said Joan Meek, M.D, associate dean for graduate medical education at the FSU College of Medicine. “The need for primary care physicians is acute in Florida, especially in more rural communities. This newly accredited program will allow the family medicine residency program to impact health-care outcomes and improve access to primary-care physicians in the community. In addition, the residents will have the opportunity to receive their training in underserved areas of the state. Hopefully, many will continue to practice in the Winter Haven community after completion of their residency training.”

The residency program will add new residents each year. In addition to receiving in-depth training in the field of family medicine, the residents will train and provide care in a community with significant needs for more primary-care physicians.

“Not only does this residency program improve access to health care for residents of Polk County, but it also provides educational and economic benefits for the whole community,” said Steve Nierman, Winter Haven Hospital president and BayCare market leader for Polk County. “We are grateful to the community support we have received in developing this program, and are well on our way to enhancing the availability and delivery of family medicine.”

Associate Writer