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UT Medical School at Houston Offers Neurosurgery Residency Program
Neurosurgical training expected to help alleviate national shortage of specialists
Neurosurgery residents will walk through the doors of The University of Texas Medical School at Houston this summer for the first time in the history of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
"There's a dire shortage of neurosurgeons throughout the country," said Dong Kim, M.D., chairman of the school's Department of Neurosurgery and director of the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann - Texas Medical Center. "We have the expert faculty to support a residency, and we are the market leader in Houston in cranial neurosurgery. This brings us national recognition as one of only a few medical schools in the country with a neurosurgery residency."
According to a study published in the February 2005 issue of the Journal of Neurology, the nation is experiencing "a severe decline in the number of active neurosurgeons and a static supply of residents." There are approximately 60 board-certified or board-eligible neurosurgeons in Harris County, according to the Harris County Medical Society and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.
The new residency, one of UT Houston's 58 residencies and fellowships accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, will be directed by Dennis Vollmer, M.D., professor of neurosurgery.
"This will enhance the level of academic involvement of the medical school and the department and will probably stimulate strength in neurosurgery care and foster research," said Vollmer, who added that one percent of practicing physicians are neurosurgeons.
The first residents, from four to six, will begin their seven-year residency July 11. They will train at the UT Physicians Neurosurgery Clinic, Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital and The Methodist Hospital.
Kim, Vollmer and Patricia Butler, professor and associate dean of educational programs at the medical school, have been working together toward accreditation since last summer, even before Kim joined the UT Houston faculty Oct. 1, 2007.
"As the program director, Dr. Vollmer brings a wealth of experience and is widely recognized nationally as a neurosurgical educator," Kim said.
UT Houston is ranked 26th of 376 sponsoring institutions in the number of residents trained, ahead of medical schools at universities including Duke, Stanford and Yale, Butler said.
To qualify for the neurosurgery residency, the school had to demonstrate that it has sufficient faculty, clinical resources, procedures, infrastructure and funding for the positions. Collaboration with other departments such as neurology was also important, Butler said.
"This is wonderful news for neurology, neurosurgery and all other clinical departments," said James Grotta, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Neurology and co-director of the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann - TMC. "The presence of neurosurgery residents will substantially increase the academic and teaching activities in neurosurgery from which we can all learn."
Kim said the residency program "legitimizes our neurosurgery program and will lead to more research."
"This now gives us a residency in every field," he added.
By Deborah Mann Lake, Institutional Advancement
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