University of South Florida

USF Health Leads the Charge to Strengthen Community Health by Focusing on Family Medicine

Family medicine, considered the oldest and broadest subspecialty of medicine, plays a critical role in maintaining community health and access to care. In fact, 90 percent of primary care doctors are family physicians, providing care of a wide range of ailments and conditions from newborns to seniors.

Eric Coris, MD

Eric Coris, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, said that family physicians significantly enhance overall health outcomes, particularly for patients from underserved populations.

Aspiring doctors echo this sentiment. Kirtan Patel, a fourth year Morsani College of Medicine student, emphasizes his commitment to the community: “Free clinic work is crucial. It provides a place for the underinsured and uninsured in the community to receive medical care.”

However, the United States – and especially a state like Florida — faces a severe shortage of primary care doctors, posing a serious healthcare challenge. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the country will need an additional 55,000 primary care physicians over the next 10 years to keep up with demand.

To counteract this shortage, USF Health and Tampa General Hospital are joining forces to offer a Family Medicine residency position starting in July 2025. Dr. Coris underlined the necessity of these residency programs, saying, “These programs play a pivotal role in strengthening the health care infrastructure, nurturing a new generation of physicians and facilitating enhanced patient care.”

Patel added, “Family Medicine is the specialty geared toward primary care and preventative care.”

Kirtan Patel studies recently at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine in downtown Tampa.

Family medicine training includes care for pediatric patients, adults, and pregnant women. The field often attracts medical students and residents passionate about serving their communities, which is key in addressing healthcare disparities and enhancing community health.

“Making a difference in the community is a powerful feeling,” Patel said. “The more family medicine physicians we can train and graduate, the better for any community as a whole.”

The goal remains clear: cultivate family medicine physicians through effective residency programs, enhancing access to care and reducing healthcare disparities.

The family medicine residency program will be a key addition to the nation’s fastest-rising medical school in primary care over the past decade, as recognized by U.S. News & World Report Academic Insights.

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