South Texas Health System Expanding Medical Training in the Rio Grande Valley Through its Recently Accredited Graduate Medical Education Program

Friday, February 23, 2024
Happy adult student in class

Despite an increase in the number of physicians throughout the state, Texas continues to face a physician shortage, with the state’s ratio of 204.6 patient care physicians per 100,000 people still below the national average of 247.5, according to the Texas Medical Association.

The Rio Grande Valley, in particular, is projected to have the highest absolute need, with the shortage of full-time equivalent primary care physicians expected to grow from 423 to 722 by 2030, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

In a major triumph toward increasing the number of healthcare providers in the four-county region while helping expand access to healthcare to residents, South Texas Health System has established a Graduate Medical Education (GME) program to help train the next generation of physicians in our medically underserved communities. The South Texas Health System GME Consortium’s Family Medicine Residency Program, the first of many specialized programs planned across South Texas Health System’s acute care facilities, has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), a not-for-profit organization that sets and monitors voluntary professional educational standards essential in preparing physicians to deliver safe, high-quality medical care to all Americans.

With its initial accreditation by the ACGME, the STHS GME Consortium, in partnership with Texas A&M University, can move forward with the launch of its family residency program this summer.

“This achievement is a testament to our commitment to providing exceptional medical education and healthcare services to the underserved communities in South Texas,” said Dr. Youssef Majed, Designated Institutional Official and Chief Academic Officer of the STHS GME Consortium. “The South Texas Health System GME Consortium Family Medicine Residency Program is proud to embark on this new chapter with the support of the ACGME. We look forward to continuing our mission of serving the healthcare needs of our community and producing outstanding family medicine practitioners.”

Heidi Pareja, MD, will serve as the Program Director of the STHS GME Consortium Family Medicine Residency Program, which will expand practical training opportunities for medical students from around the world while increasing the number of providers in the Valley.

“By providing exposure to diverse patient populations, advanced technology and innovative medical practices, our program will play a crucial role in addressing the healthcare needs of the underserved populations in our region,” said Dr. Pareja. “With this ACGME accreditation, South Texas Health System is better positioned to attract top-tier medical talent, ensuring that our residents receive comprehensive training in family medicine, including preventive care, chronic disease management, and community-based healthcare delivery.”

The STHS GME Consortium

Learn more about the STHS GME Consortium and how it can advance your training.

This July, the Family Medicine Residency Program will launch with 10 first-year residents but will accept 10 additional first-year residents each following year. By 2026, the program will have 30 concurrent first-, second- and third-year residents.

Beyond its family medicine program, the STHS GME Consortium is planning to launch additional specialized residency programs within the next two years, with the aim of providing between 200 and 300 medical residents by 2026 with the clinical training, research knowledge, professionalism and critical skills necessary to become well-rounded, compassionate physicians who will positively impact the health and well-being of Valley communities.

“By developing residency programs in different areas of specialized medicine, South Texas Health System will have the opportunity to attract talented medical residents and provide them with high-quality training and education,” said Dr. Majed. “Along with providing the training that will help residents improve the future of medicine for the communities we serve, the programs will provide high quality care to Valley residents and foster the development of new treatment options,” Majed said.

Participating family medicine residents will conduct rotations at South Texas Health System’s largest acute care facility, South Texas Health System McAllen, while participants in future residency programs will also visit South Texas Health System Edinburg, South Texas Health System Children’s and South Texas Health System Heart for their rotations. Each facility will present residents with the opportunity to train in a safe, clinical learning environment committed to delivering high-quality and compassionate healthcare.

“South Texas Health System has secured some incredible local physicians who are excited and eager to train the next generation of doctors while helping take medical care to the next level in the Rio Grande Valley,” says Lance Ames, Chief Executive Officer, STHS Edinburg and STHS Children’s. “As a leadership team, we’re ready to fully support our physicians as they take on this exciting new chapter in the development of more close-to-home GME training programs for local students pursuing medical careers and individuals from around the world hoping to make a difference in a medically underserved community.” 

“We are excited to be part of innovation and healthcare transformation,” adds Emma Montes-Ewing, Chief Executive Officer, STHS McAllen. “The official accreditation of our family medicine residency program is a giant leap in tackling our underserved situation. It will set the foundation for the structure that will support more access to care and a source for sustainable and successful physician recruitment as we continue to serve the healthcare needs of our RGV community. Together, we are making history.”

Throughout the three-year family medicine program, residents will also be placed at South Texas Health System Family Medicine Residency Clinic for continuity clinic requirements.