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Las Vegas hospitals add residencies to ease doctor shortage

The Valley Health System will welcome 26 new resident physicians in general surgery and family medicine in July as the Las Vegas-based hospital chain aims to make its mark in graduate medical education.

The hospitals will enroll 10 first-year family medicine residents and 16 general surgery residents in their first and second years of residency, said Dr. Andrew Eisen, chief academic officer for Valley Health.

“Certainly, the medical schools are important,” Eisen said, referring to the UNLV School of Medicine, which enrolled its first class in 2017, and Touro University in Henderson. “But without the residencies, we’re not going to be able to retain those folks to practice here.”

Just over half of the physicians who complete their residency training in Nevada continue to practice in-state, according to an analysis by the Association of American Medical Colleges, compared to about 35 percent of medical students who graduate in Nevada and go on to practice in the state.

The state is ranked 47th in the nation by the association in terms of active physicians per capita, with 200 doctors per 100,000 residents compared to the national average of 271 per 100,000.

“We’re behind; we’re short-handed,” Eisen said of Nevada’s physician workforce. “We have a responsibility as part of the Southern Nevada community to help where we can.”

The six-hospital system is sponsoring the residencies in partnership with Roseman University of Health Sciences and Southwest Medical Associates to run the family medicine residency program. Valley Health received $3.7 million in grants to help build the program.

In addition to improving the chances of keeping the graduate students in Nevada, the partnership will help Roseman speed along its accreditation process for its medical school, the school’s chairman of family medicine, Dr. Thomas Hunt, said.

“Because medical school is a four-year training program, having a strong clinical component of your medical school curriculum is vital,” Hunt said. “Hopefully, we’ll get more (students) who decide to train in family medicine, because we’re so behind in primary care and family medicine in our state.”

The residents will work at five Valley Health hospitals — Centennial, Desert Springs, Henderson, Spring Valley and Summerlin — but not Valley Hospital on Shadow Lane in Las Vegas, where residencies in internal and family medicine, neurology and orthopedics have existed for more than a decade, Eisen said. Southwest Medical Associates will provide outpatient training in family medicine.

Graduating medical students entering the Valley Health training programs will be notified March 15 on Match Day, when the National Resident Matching Program notifies students of residency placements.

Valley Health plans to build residency programs in psychiatry, internal medicine, emergency medicine and obstetrics and gynecology in coming years, Eisen said.

Contact Jessie Bekker at jbekker@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4563. Follow @jessiebekks on Twitter.

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