Texas ranks 47th among 50 states in the ratio of primary-care doctors per person, pointing to a need for more residency programs across the state, especially in underserved areas of South Texas.
When students graduate with a DO or MD degree at an American medical school, they must then enter a residency program in their chosen specialty. The duration of this training varies from three years for Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics, to five years for Surgery, Orthopedics, and Obstetrics and Gynecology. Upon completion of residency, a physician is eligible to become Board Certified in that field and may elect to continue training in a subspecialty fellowship.
Graduate Medical Education, or GME, is the term that encompasses these residency and fellowship programs. UIWSOM graduates spend much of their fourth year as medical students interviewing and auditioning for GME programs. They enter a process known as "The Match" where they rank their GME preferences and are "Matched" to programs that have also ranked them. Residents and Fellows are physicians and have a training license that allows them to practice medicine but only under the supervision of a fully licensed physician. Residents and Fellows are required to perform the duties of direct patient care, but they are also held accountable for increasingly difficult academic responsibilities.
Physicians must successfully complete their residency to become Board Certified in their specialty. While some states allow a physician to receive a license after only one or two years of GME training, it is very difficult for physicians trained in the 21st Century to practice medicine without being residency trained and board certified.
Graduate Medical Education and UIWSOM
UIWSOM feels strongly that in order to serve the population of South Texas, new residency training programs must be created. Physicians tend to settle within 100 miles of where they completed their residency so the creation of new residency programs in the region is imperative to UIWSOM's mission.
GME Development is a time consuming process which requires years of careful due diligence to ensure the highest quality educational experience for the trainee while preserving the highest quality of care for each and every patient. Hospitals and clinics must be fiscally responsible and clinical faculty must be engaged in the teaching process.
For this reason, the UIWSOM Office of Graduate Medical Education was established in 2014 with the intent of identifying opportunities for GME growth and development. In 2015, UIWSOM helped to establish the Texas Institute for Graduate Medical Education and Research, or TIGMER. This is a 501c3 nonprofit GME consortium that provides expertise, shared resources, and academic oversight to new and developing residency programs. TIGMER holds initial accreditation as a Sponsoring Institution by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
TIGMER programs include the following:
- CommuniCare Family Medicine Residency, San Antonio
- Laredo Medical Center Family Medicine Residency, Laredo
- Laredo Medical Center Internal Medicine Residency, Laredo
- Southwest General Hospital Psychiatry Residency, San Antonio
- Southwest General Hospital Internal Medicine Residency, San Antonio (Pending Accreditation)
- TIGMER Sports Medicine Fellowship, San Antonio (Pending Accreditation)
- TIGMER Hand Surgery (Ortho) Fellowship, San Antonio, (Pending Accreditation)
- Abilene Regional Medical Center Family Medicine Residency, Abilene (Pending Accreditation)
For more information about GME Development in South Texas, please see the TIGMER web page at: www.TIGMER.org