UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville adds residencies in anesthesiology, psychiatry

Two new residency programs have been approved for the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville, boosting education efforts in two disciplines with dire shortages of physicians nationally and locally.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education gave final approval in April for new graduate medical education programs in anesthesiology and psychiatry.

“This provides training in two specialties that are in short supply and will be beneficial to UF and the community,” said Daniel R. Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., vice president for health affairs and dean of the UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville.

The approvals are steps forward in the goals of the Healthcare and Bioscience Council of Northeast Florida, a group of about 20 health care executives and community leaders, including Wilson. Two of the council’s top priorities are increasing the number of medical residencies in Jacksonville and developing biomedical science research.

“The fact that the University of Florida is continuing to develop new residency programs here is really a tremendous service to the community,” said Yank Coble, M.D., chairman of the council and director of the Center for Global Health and Medical Diplomacy at the University of North Florida.

Residency programs are crucial for a community because studies show more than half of physicians end up practicing in the city or state where they complete their residencies.

“It’s not so much where they go to medical school,” Wilson said. “It’s where they do their residency.”

The process for starting a new residency program is lengthy and requires showing a track record of scholarly activities and research, as well as educating students and providing top-notch clinical care, said Constance K. Haan, M.D., M.S., senior associate dean for educational affairs and director of UF’s graduate medical education programs in Jacksonville.

Both anesthesiology and psychiatry were seen more as clinical services until recent years and Haan praised department chairs Moeen K. Panni, M.B. B.Chir. (M.D.), Ph.D., of anesthesiology, and Steven P. Cuffe, M.D., of psychiatry, for bolstering research and academic pursuits.

“Both have done a tremendous job in building truly academic departments worthy of accreditation,” Haan said.

Residents in anesthesiology have been accepted already, while the psychiatry program will start in 2013. Once both programs are in full swing, there will be 24 additional residents in Jacksonville — 12 in the three-year anesthesiology program and 12 in the four-year psychiatry program.

The UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville already has 315 residents and fellows training in Jacksonville, which has the third most residents of any Florida city.

Because of the variety of surgical specialties offered by UF in Jacksonville, anesthesiologists are in great demand, Haan said. And the combination of residents training in anesthesiology and various other specialties builds that teamwork concept that is becoming so crucial in modern patient care.

“It will enhance both what we have on campus and what we have to offer the community,” Haan said.

Panni credited Michael Nussbaum, M.D., chairman of the department of surgery in Jacksonville, for providing a linked surgery internship at the College of Medicine-Jacksonville for residents prior to their start in anesthesiology. The anesthesiology department has developed several rotations that are popular with other existing local residency programs, as well as a separate clinical obstetric anesthesiology fellowship program, now starting its fourth year, Panni said.

Panni, who came to the college in 2008, credited the support and vision of Emeritus Dean Robert C. Nuss, M.D., for his mentorship during the application process and Dean Wilson for his support moving forward.

Since coming to the department of psychiatry four years ago, Cuffe has added three psychiatrists, has three doctorate-level faculty members on staff and is recruiting to fill two more positions. When the psychiatry residency program begins, residents will see patients at Shands Jacksonville, Wolfson Children’s Hospital and Baptist Medical Center; practice community psychiatry at Renaissance Behavioral Health; and handle substance abuse cases at Gateway Community Services, Cuffe said.

“We’re making connections, recruiting people with a research background and reaching out to the community to create what I think is going to be a very rich academic and research environment,” Cuffe said.

Nationally, less than one-third of people with mental illness receive treatment for it, said Richard Christensen M.D., a professor and chief of the division of public psychiatry at UF and director of behavioral health at the Sulzbacher Center for the homeless in downtown Jacksonville.

The mental health need is even greater for children, said Cuffe, who has long-term plans for starting a child psychiatry fellowship in the next few years.

“The addition of these two residencies will further our mission as an academic health center and expand the clinical care and subject matter expertise we provide in the community,” Wilson said.