KU starts new program to train ER doctors

Program begins next week

0 | KU Medical Center, Workforce

— Next week, the University of Kansas Medical Center and the KU Hospital will launch the state’s first emergency medicine residency program.

Six residents will begin the three-year program July 1.

Officials said their plan is to add six residents a year to the program for the next two years, generating 18 emergency medicine specialists. Additional slots could be added in the future.

“For years, we have seen some of our best medical students leave the state to pursue an emergency medicine specialty,” said Dr. Dennis Allin, chairman of the hospital’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “All too often when they leave they don’t come back. Now we are giving them the opportunity to learn in Kansas and, we hope, stay in Kansas after their residencies are complete.”

Last year, the American College of Emergency Physicians issued a 50-state report card on the status of emergency medicine. Kansas received a D+ in the "quality and patient safety environment" category due, in part, to “a lack of emergency medicine residents.”

The national average grade in that category was C+.

The state’s poor showing, officials said, underscored the importance of the new residency program.

“This program really responds to a specific physician manpower shortage issue in Kansas,” said Dr. Doug Girod, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at the medical center.

The hospital’s emergency department recorded almost 44,600 patient visits between July 2008 and June 2009.

Kansas’ grades in other categories noted in the report included:

• Access to emergency care, B-.

• Medical liability environment, A.

• Public health and injury prevention, C.

• Disaster prevention, D+.

The state’s overall grade was a C+. The national overall grade average was C-.

Kansas received an A for its medical liability environment because its average malpractice award payment was around $182,000, the fourth lowest in the nation. The state’s liability insurance premiums were among the 15 lowest in the nation.