New program could reduce ER doctor shortage

Emergency medicine resident doctors now training at University Hospital


SAN ANTONIO - Now that Dr. Ben Rush has finished medical school, he'll spend the next three years training to become an emergency room doctor. 

Deciding where to complete his residency was a big decision and he said he was excited to learn it would be at University Hospital.

"My wife's' family lives here, so it's very exciting for the both of us,"  he said.

Last year, San Antonio wouldn't have been an option.

Until now, emergency medicine residency programs weren't available to civilians in San Antonio.

"We are a big city, I think we're the only one in the seven largest cities in the country who, prior (to now), did not have an emergency medicine training program," said Dr. Gillian Schmitz, associate program director.

Schmitz said there's a shortage of ER doctors in South Texas.

It could get worse, considering the number of patients coming to emergency rooms has grown by about 32 percent nationwide over the past decade. 

Hospital officials said one of the big benefits of this program is that the doctors who train here are likely to stay here.

They say it's common for doctors to stay in the city where they were trained.

"Other cities have multiple emergency medicine residencies so it's about time and we're excited to get started," said Schmitz

There are 10 ER residents in the program, including Rush..

"I'm excited to be the first class of that. I'm excited to start building a legacy that's positive and a legacy of excellence for this program," said Rush

Every year, there will be 10 more residents added, so there will be 30 ER doctors in training at the hospital by 2015.

For a list of recent stories Eileen Gonzales has done, click here.


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