Dell Medical School and Ascension Seton have more than doubled the number of…


“Especially in the context of Austin’s rapidly growing population and an expected worsening physician shortage, residents and fellows are a very important health care resource for patients and families across the Travis County, especially for those who need it most,” said George Macones, MD, acting dean of Dell Med and professor in the Department of Women’s Health. “They are also an essential part of Dell Med’s mission-driven team.”

In 2015, Ascension Seton collaborated with the new medical school to expand its existing graduate medical education programs and openings, with Dell Med serving as the sponsoring institution. Prior to this, UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas was Ascension Seton’s academic partner.

Ascension Seton knows the importance of training future Central Texas physicians,” said Andy Davis, President and CEO of Ascension Texas. Through our affiliation with Dell Medical School, Ascension Seton invests more than $50 million annually in graduate medical education, which has allowed us to develop new and existing programs together. This work helps us provide quality care and expand our mission, with a focus on people who are vulnerable or in poverty.

These 401 residents and fellows employed by Ascension Seton add to the 415 physicians who have moved to Austin since 2014 to join the Dell Med faculty, according to a recent press release.

Medical residents and fellows: a vital resource in community health

Residents are medical school graduates who pursue three to seven years of postgraduate training in a medical specialty. Fellows are physicians who pursue at least one more year in a subspecialty after completing a residency program. Residents and fellows provide care under the supervision of medical school faculty members.

Among the program’s community partners are Central Health-affiliated CommUnityCare and the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System and its Austin Outpatient Clinic, both of which recognize the value that residents and fellows bring.

“At CommUnityCare, we integrate residents and fellows into our daily health transformation work not only to expand the impact of our health centers on the well-being of our communities,” said Nicholas Yagoda, MD, MD. -head of CommUnityCare, “but also to develop a future healthcare workforce focused on health equity and population health.

“The VA continues to welcome residents and fellows as they continue their training in internal medicine and primary care, as well as specialties such as dermatology, psychiatry, palliative care, and neurology, among others. The partnership has proven to be a resounding success for interns, VAs, and veterans,” said Pawan Sikka, MD, associate chief of staff for education at Central Texas Veterans Health Care System.

When you talk about a “healthy city,” it means that every citizen in the community should have easy access to a higher level of expert care, and it was good for Austin to be part of that.

Blessing Oyeniyi, MD

Some specific examples of local care provided by residents and fellows, including for uninsured and underinsured patients:

  • In the 2022 academic year alone, they provided more than 730,000 hours of care at more than 80 Central Texas clinics and hospitals operated by clinical partners Ascension Seton, CommUnityCare, Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, People’s Community Clinic , Lone Star Circle of Care, Integral Care, and others.
  • Based on 2021 annualized data, they provided care to approximately 12,000 patients at CommUnityCare in approximately 20,000 patient visits. CommUnityCare is the largest safety net provider of primary health care services in Travis County.
  • At three local Ascension Seton hospitals — Dell Seton Medical Center, Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin, and Dell Children’s Medical Center — they provided care for nearly 150,000 patient visits in the 2022 academic year, marking an increase 322% of resident-related patient visits since 2019. This data does not include care provided at Ascension Seton Shoal Creek.

Dell Med leaders also highlight the important role residents and fellows have played in the local collaborative response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, they joined faculty members and Dell Med teams at Dell Seton Medical Center to create nationally recognized COVID-19 Centers of Excellence at the hospital. Result: Mortality rates were 33% lower than the national average for COVID-19 patients with medical complications. By March 2021, at least 75 more people had survived than expected based on national averages.

A recent graduate in residency is Blessing Oyeniyi, MD, who completed her four-year psychiatry training at Ascension Seton Shoal Creek for Behavioral Health and the Inpatient Psychiatry Unit and Emergency Psychiatry Department at Dell Seton Medical Center.

“I cared for medically underserved patients every day during my residency. This experience helped me develop my empathy towards others and I learned how to care for people from all backgrounds and backgrounds,” Oyeniyi said.

“When you talk about a ‘healthy city,’ it means that every citizen in the community should have easy access to a higher level of specialized care, and it was good for Austin to be part of that.”

Increasingly, local residents and fellows reflect the communities they serve, although more work needs to be done in this area, Macones said. A residency demographic report shows that of the 401 residents and fellows, 21% identify with a race or ethnicity underrepresented in medicine, as defined by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

This compares to a US average of 13.8%.

Residents often stay where they train

Data shows that residents tend to stay to practice in the states where they train. Of the 664 residency and fellowship graduates from the program since 2015, 232 have chosen to pursue additional training and 432 have immediately entered practice. Of those entering the practice immediately, 45% (194) are now practicing in Central Texas and 71% are practicing in Texas (compared to a national average of 57%).

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