The Medical University of South Carolina is launching a new graduate medical education program through its Regional Health Network, which includes hospitals across the state. It will start at the MUSC Health Florence Medical Center next July.
The city’s mayor was happy to hear the news. “Florence is the medical hub of the Pee Dee. With more resident physicians being able to reside in Florence, this will expand the potential for them to be lifelong citizens here. I value the opportunity to increase the number of doctors we have in the Pee Dee area. I am excited about this announcement,” said Teresa Myers Ervin.
Tsveti Markova, M.D., is excited about it too. As the MUSC Health chief academic integration officer, she leads the Regional Health Network GME strategic growth project. “The educational opportunity is the best of both worlds,” she said. “Florence is a small community, with a very intimate, individualized environment where the residents could pretty much participate in any teaching moment – from the clinic or emergency room to the intensive care and operating rooms. It’s very one on one with the faculty preceptors.”
Residents can learn from experienced clinicians and focus on their own learning habits, strengths and interests and at the same time, they are exposed to all available resources of a large academic health system, nationally renowned for research, innovation, telehealth and up-to-date technologies, Markova said.
Medical school graduates need to complete such GME programs, or residencies, to become licensed physicians. Rami Zebian, M.D., chief medical officer of the MUSC Health-Pee Dee Division, said the new program will benefit both medical residents and patients.
“The crux of the reason why we need GME is really to meet the needs of the community. South Carolina is one of the biggest exporters of medical students in the country. We have a lot of medical students that graduate and can’t find spots for residency to stay in the state. And the data says that a lot of times, physicians stay to practice where they do their training,” he said. “If somebody has joint pain and you work in a large academic medical center, it’s ‘OK, well, let’s ask rheumatology to take a look at it.’ But in the community, people are going to go to their primary care doctor, and their doctor is going to figure that out. So, having a feel for what it’s like to practice in a community setting gets you well-prepared to be practicing in the area. Also, in Florence, the hospital is large enough that we have support and specialists and services, but it’s small enough that people know each other by name.”
Markova said giving physicians the chance to learn in that kind of atmosphere is important in a state where about one-third of all its people live in rural areas.
“Our mission is to lead innovative GME programs where physicians in training develop clinical and professional competence to provide exceptional patient care in the communities they serve, with a special focus on rural and underserved areas. In the near future, medical school graduates may also be able to do their residency trainings at the MUSC Health Lancaster, Chester and Kershaw medical centers.”
To fulfill that mission in Florence, there will be eight graduating internal medicine resident physicians per year starting next July and planning for eight family medicine residents starting the following year. Rural track OB-GYN and rural track emergency medicine programs are also being considered.
Markova said the federal government recognizes the value of such training. Due to the nature of these hospitals being “GME naive,” it’s providing funding for Regional Health Network GME through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This means that these residency programs have a sustainable future once established, which experts predict will improve the physician pipeline as well as the chances that physicians trained in rural or underserved areas will stay there to practice as they become part of those communities.
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, with a unique mission to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates more than 3,200 students in six colleges – Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy – and trains more than 900 residents and fellows in its health system. MUSC brought in more than $298 million in research funds in fiscal year 2022, leading the state overall in research funding. MUSC also leads the state in federal and National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $220 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
As the health care system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest-quality and safest patient care while educating and training generations of outstanding health care providers and leaders to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Patient care is provided at 16 hospitals (includes owned and affiliated), with approximately 2,700 beds and four additional hospital locations in development; more than 350 telehealth sites and connectivity to patients’ homes; and nearly 750 care locations situated in all regions of South Carolina. In 2023, for the ninth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health University Medical Center in Charleston the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC has a total enterprise annual operating budget of $5.9 billion. The nearly 26,000 MUSC family members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers, scientists, students, affiliates and care team members who deliver groundbreaking education, research, and patient care.