News Austin Emergency Medicine Residency Program Approved to Begin in July

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AUSTIN, Texas - (Feb. 23, 2012) - Austin's first emergency medicine residency program will begin in July with eight residents based at University Medical Center Brackenridge, helping to train the next generation of emergency physicians and enhancing Austin's reputation as a center for medical education and research.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's Residency Review Committee has approved the application, said Dr. Todd Berger, an emergency physician at UMC Brackenridge who serves as Associate Professor and Program Director for the residency.

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The announcement comes as many are talking about the possibility of developing a medical school and a new teaching hospital in Austin.

"As all of our departments at UMC Brackenridge become more academically oriented, we're laying the clinical foundation in academic medicine for a medical school," Berger said.

The University of Texas Southwestern-Austin Emergency Medicine Residency is affiliated with the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, a respected leader in medical education and cutting-edge research, and the Seton Healthcare Family, which operates UMC Brackenridge and other hospitals throughout Central Texas.

Physicians from Austin-based Emergency Service Partners, L.P., which staffs the emergency departments at all Seton facilities and more than a dozen other hospitals across Texas, will serve on faculty for the new program.

"None of this would be possible without ESP's support," Berger said. "The collaboration and support of ESP, Seton and UT Southwestern has been tremendous."

The program will be housed primarily at UMC Brackenridge, the only Level I adult trauma center in the Austin area. Residents will also receive pediatric training at Dell Children's Medical Center and community/tertiary care training at Seton Medical Center Austin. In their third year, residents will spend one month studying rural emergency medicine at Seton Highland Lakes Hospital in Burnet.

The emergency department at UMC Brackenridge has been trying to get a residency program for many years, but the effort recently gained momentum, said Dr. Chris Ziebell, an ESP board member and Emergency Department Medical Director at UMC Brackenridge.

"We felt that we needed to begin grooming our own physicians" to help alleviate a shortage of doctors, Ziebell said. "This new residency will help meet the needs of a growing and aging population in Austin."

In anticipation of Accreditation Council approval, Berger said the program began advertising by word of mouth and received more than 200 applications from medical school graduates. A ranked list of the 97 candidates interviewed is being prepared, and they will learn who the members of the first class will be on March 16, Match Day, when graduating medical students find out which residencies have accepted them.

The national Residency Review Committee requires every resident to perform scholarly activity, and most residency programs have a scholarly program, Ziebell said.

In 2009, Emergency Service Partners formed a wholly owned subsidiary, Hospital Physicians in Clinical Research, PLLC (HPCR), to help fulfill the residency requirement and to allow its approximately 350 physicians the opportunity to engage in academic research. Ziebell serves as executive director of the Austin-based research group, which specializes in emergency medicine.

Already an established and successful program, HPCR is working with the Seton Healthcare Family to provide the support necessary to allow emergency medicine residents to perform high-quality research. ESP physicians who work with HPCR will mentor students on residency research projects.

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