Graduate Medical Education Development
The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) data issued in 2017 reported that of Alabama’s 67 counties, 62 counties were under served or partially under served by physician manpower.
As early as 2009, AMEC began discussions about the need for more physicians in rural and underserved areas of the state. Recognizing the shortage led to research about how to increase the number of doctors, especially in the rural areas of Alabama. Students receiving their third and fourth years of medical school in clinical clerkships in Alabama began the effort to address the State’s physician shortage. Offering more opportunities
to receive graduate medical education in the state was perceived to be an additional path to keep more new physicians in the state.
In 2011 a Strategic Plan to provide more residency training in Alabama was devised. The plan was to begin conversations with hospitals who might be interested in graduate medical education in addition to their taking medical students. AMEC submitted a proposal to Governor Bentley requesting funding to assist hospitals start new GME programs. The effort was funded in the State Budgets FY 2017, 2018, and 2019.
In 2019, more than 12 hospitals have expressed interest in/or already are in the development process to start new GME programs. Two programs, South Baldwin Regional Medical Center in Foley (FM) and Southeast Health in Dothan (IM) began their first class in 2018; North Alabama Medical Center in Florence and Thomas Hospital in Fairhope began their first class in 2020. Southeast Health is now also recruiting faculty for two additional planned programs: Emergency Medicine and a Transitional Year. Seven programs now have Institutional Accreditation from the ACGME.
The timeline for developing a new residency program can range from 24 to 40 months. The process initially entails preparing and submitting to ACGME the application for Institutional Sponsorship. The Institutional Review Committee schedules the application to be reviewed and considered for approval at one of several meetings held throughout each year. Following institutional approval, an application for a specific program(s) can then be prepared and submitted. As part of the program application, a site visit is required to verify that the program will have the education resources required to meet the high ACGME standards. With this timeline in mind, AMEC expects the new start-up effort for many of these new GME sites in Alabama to be completed by 2024 or 2025.