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  1. Health

Brandon Regional hopes new residency program leads to more doctors

BRANDON

Brandon Regional Hospital thinks it has one of the answers to Florida's shortage of medical residents: a new residency program.

The state ranks 42nd out of 50 states with fewer than 18 medical residents and fellows on duty per 100,000 people. Hospital Corporation of America hospitals across the bay area are aiming to remedy that with their recent investment in accredited residency programs.

And more residency programs should lead to more doctors. According to Brandon Regional Hospital program director Dr. Yvonne Braver, various studies show that approximately 60 percent of medical residents end up living and working within 15 miles of where they attend their residency.

"By having a residency program here, we're going to bring in excellent physicians that we know well and that know our hospital as care doctors and specialists that will stay here in Brandon," Braver said.

After receiving 889 applications to be part of the hospital's first year of internal medicine residents, Braver and her cohorts conducted nearly 250 interviews to find exactly what they were looking for: leaders.

"They're going to create this program, and they're going to set the standard. I think that's a unique opportunity for them," Braver said. "They'll get a lot of leadership roles that they might not get in another program."

Many of the young doctors chosen already had taken part in advanced training and research.

One of those leaders chosen to be part of the budding program was Dr. Said Awad, who was raised in the Tampa Bay area. For Awad, the pull to be part of the program at Brandon Regional Hospital was multifaceted.

"I moved here when I was 2 years old and I went to high school and college here, so it was always a place I had in mind to come back to," Awad said. "But a lot of the draw was the program itself. During my interview I got to speak to Dr. (Joe) Corcoran, who is the chief medical officer, and he was saying how they wanted to pick residents that they could see staying here, so that was definitely one of the draws."

Eventually, the hospital plans to have 40 more students join the internal medicine residency program at Brandon Regional over the next two years. After receiving full accreditation in September from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, it has five years to build up the program.

Braver said the program eventually could extend beyond internal medicine.

"We'd like to get up to 100 residents over the next few years and we're considering other residencies in other departments," Braver said. "This is a huge community and we have outstanding patients and outstanding service and lots of opportunities for training."

Eager to learn and "practice medicine the way it should be," Awad is excited for the opportunities ahead.

"You get an opportunity to be part of the community and part of the hospital as well as have a lot of experience in leadership and great experiences in clinical care," Awad said. "I already feel like I'm part of something great and it feels like a family already, and that makes you eager to go in every day and get to work."

Contact Kelsey Sunderland at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

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