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Area Physician Shortage Being Addressed by AdventHealth System

White Coat Ceremony Marks End of Residency, Full Status as Physicians

AdventHealth welcomed nearly 50 new resident doctors into its health care system with a White Coat Ceremony Friday, marking the start of their post-graduate training.

Courtesy AdventHealth

Dr. Chad Brands, program director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at AdventHealth Sebring, honors a resident doctor with her first white coat.

The new graduates will help alleviate shortage of physicians locally, part of a nationwide problem. AdventHealth operates hospital facilities in Lake Wales, Davenport, Sebring, and Lake Placid, as well as a new Urgent Care facility on Cypress Gardens Boulevard.

AdventHealth leaders also honored the first graduating class of Family Medicine Residents from AdventHealth Sebring. These seven residents have completed a three-year program, and many will continue to serve at AdventHealth Sebring.

Dr. Javier Correa is one of those graduating residents, but even though his residency has come to an end, he has decided to stay at AdventHealth Sebring and establish roots in Highlands County.

"Sebring has really grown on me. I love the community and I love the people," said Dr. Correa. "The residency has been nothing short of great for me. I think it's truly like a blessing."

Dr. Correa said it was special to be part of the first residency class, adding that he has already established relationships with many of the specialists, which he knows will be beneficial to himself and his patients.

"When it was my time to shine, when it was my time to rotate with those specialists, it was all available to me," Dr. Correa said. "Some of my mentors, it's good to know that I'll still be in close contact with them."

AdventHealth also celebrated its newest group of resident doctors. The 48 new doctors who just graduated from Medical school will train with top experts in various Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs at AdventHealth's West Florida Hospitals.

AdventHealth's West Florida Division offers many GME programs, including new ones such as general surgery and OB/GYN at AdventHealth Tampa, and a Family Medicine Residency Program at AdventHealth Wesley Chapel.

The White Coat Ceremony took place on Friday, June 21, from 2 PM to 4 PM at the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street, located at 510 Water St, Tampa, FL 33602. During the ceremony, the new residents received their white coats, symbolizing their entry into the Medical profession and their commitment to professionalism and empathy in medicine.

Over the next three years, the AdventHealth West Florida division plans to graduate 88 residents through its programs at AdventHealth Sebring, AdventHealth Tampa, and AdventHealth Wesley Chapel.

"We believe that family physicians can handle more than 90 percent of health problems seen in the model family practice center," said Dr. Pamela Knickerbocker, program director of the AdventHealth Sebring Family Medicine Residency Clinic. "Our goal is to produce the finest family physicians to meet the personal and population health needs of our region and beyond."

Graduate Medical Education programs like these help address the physician shortage in Florida, which the Florida Hospital Association projects will reach 36,000 by 2035. AdventHealth's GME programs aim to grow the physician pipeline to meet Florida's increasing demand for doctors, particularly in rural areas and within specialties where there is a shortage.

"Over the course of the next five years, AdventHealth Sebring will graduate 38 residents," Dr. Knickerbocker said. "That goes a very long way in helping with the physician shortage and delivering care to our communities."


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