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UAMS Receives $750K to Relaunch Family Medicine Residency in El Dorado

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UAMS on Tuesday announced it has received a $750,000 federal grant to reestablish a family medicine residency program in El Dorado.

The program, a partnership between UAMS and South Arkansas Regional Hospital, will establish a rural track family medicine curriculum with a focus on maternal health and obstetrics. The program aims to improve access to health care in rural areas and strengthen the physician workforce in underserved south Arkansas communities.

Funds were awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. UAMS is one of 15 organizations nationwide to receive funding from an $11 million effort to launch medical residency programs in rural communities.

UAMS will use the grant for curriculum development, recruitment, training for faculty and staff and other costs associated with achieving accreditation and sustainability.

The program aims to earn accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in 2025 and enroll its first residents in the summer of 2026.

Trainees will complete part of their residency in Little Rock at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, but the majority of their training will be spent immersed in El Dorado and south Arkansas-based rural clinical settings.

“The establishment of a family medicine residency program in El Dorado will provide a framework to help address the workforce shortage that rural areas across Arkansas are facing,” Donya Watson, future director of the El Dorado residency program, said in a press release. “We would like to recruit and train graduates from Arkansas medical schools who will hopefully stay in Arkansas to practice.”

Relaunching the residency program is part of the process of reestablishing a regional UAMS campus in El Dorado. UAMS opened a Family Medical Center there in March.

Once established, the El Dorado location will be UAMS’ ninth regional location and will hopefully create an influx of health care professionals in Union County, said Richard Turnage, vice chancellor of UAMS Regional Campuses.

“Studies show that many physicians choose to practice within 100 miles of where they received their residency training, which is one reason UAMS is so committed to our Regional Campuses and our rural residency programs,” Turnage said in the release. “These programs make a real difference in improving health care access throughout the state.”

The majority of existing family practice physicians in rural areas of Arkansas were trained at one of UAMS’ regional campuses. Currently, there are eight regional campuses in Batesville, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Helena-West Helena, Jonesboro, Magnolia, Pine Bluff and Texarkana.

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