The addition of Ocala Health's medical residents to the clinic's roster has cut patient wait time for appointments and is expected to improve outcomes.
In July, the Heart of Florida Health Center welcomed the services of more than 40 medical residents who immediately impacted the level of care the clinic offers patients.
"We had a three- to four-month waiting list. Our waiting list is now two to three weeks," said Jamie Ulmer, Heart of Florida CEO.
With the improved access comes improved medical outcomes, Ulmer said.
"The residents are happy. We're seeing a lot of patients and working very hard," said Dr. Khalid Abussada, the internal medicine residency program director for Ocala Health.
The residents are part of a partnership between Ocala Regional Medical Center and the University of Central Florida College of Medicine. The first class of residents started in 2015 and recently graduated from the program.
Initially, both the internal medicine and family medicine residents practiced out of Langley Health Services near Silver Springs Shores. But as the number of residents increased, there were not enough patients to go around.
In 2015, the internal medicine program included 10 residents. This year, there were 30 residents accepted into the program and another 13 participating in a transitional year residency.
"We thought the transition to the Heart of Florida would be a great opportunity for our residents to see more patients and be able to be trained in outpatient medicine," Abussada said. "The feedback I am getting from the residents is they are all very excited and feel like they are contributing to the community."
Since July 1, Heart of Florida saw about 500 new patients and registered nearly 1,200 patient visits, Ulmer said.
If the number of patient visits continues at the same pace, the center could potentially register up to 8,000 visits in the first year, he said.
While internal medicine residents spend most of their time working with patients in the hospital, a third of their training requires them to work in an outpatient setting, such as a medical clinic. There are differences between the two settings and the split training makes for a more well-rounded doctor, Abussada said.
Mohammed Faluk is a first-year resident. He hopes to become a cardiologist but is enjoying his time at the Heart of Florida.
"It's a good experience. I get to see patients of different ages and different backgrounds," said Faluk, a native of Ethiopia.
Dr. William Trice, an internist who oversees the residents at the Heart of Florida, said that diversity of patients and conditions is what residents need.
"They are learning to see patients who may have complex medical problems and not have insurance. They can come up with a plan to get them the care they need and then we sit together and go over those plans. They are learning a lot about outpatient medicine, which is a bit different than inpatient medicine. They need to be well versed in both," Trice said.
In simplified terms: The goal of outpatient medicine is to keep the patient well enough to stay out of the hospital. The goal of inpatient medicine is to get the patient well enough to leave the hospital.
Dr. Selsabeel Elyaman, a second-year resident from Tampa, said she has seen the same patient in both settings several times.
"I've had a couple of situations where I saw people in the ICU and then followed up with them here, so the continuity of care is excellent," Elyaman said.
For information about Heart of Florida and the services they offer, visit www.myhfhc.org or call 352-732-6599.
Contact Carlos Medina at 867-4157 or email@example.com.