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Release: Immediate

Sioux City medical education project opens new phase in UI partnership

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Groundbreaking ceremonies usually symbolize beginnings. But when the Siouxland Medical Education Foundation initiated work on a training center in Sioux City June 4, the event marked continued partnership as well as a new start.

For more than 20 years, the foundation has collaborated with Sioux City hospitals and the University of Iowa College of Medicine to train physicians and other health professionals. It is one of several such organizations across Iowa that are formally affiliated with the UI.

"Regional programs like the Siouxland Foundation were established in the 1970s to coordinate local medical residencies, continuing education for physicians and other activities," says Roger Tracy, director of the Office of Statewide Clinical Education Programs at the UI College of Medicine and a member of the Siouxland Foundation's board of directors. "Most are incorporated entities with strong ties to local hospitals and private medical practices."

The new 32,000-square-foot building will serve as headquarters for the foundation and provide education and clinical facilities. Central to its plan is a model medical office with 24 examination and treatment rooms. Family medicine residents -- new physicians pursuing a three-year program for certification in the specialty -- and foundation medical faculty will staff the office, providing medical care to patients from the surrounding area. The project is scheduled for completion next July.

The Sioux City-based foundation has a faculty of seven full-time family physicians, a clinical pharmacist, a nurse practitioner and a family counselor. However, much of its teaching is conducted by more than 100 area physicians who teach residents and students at private medical offices and local hospitals on a voluntary basis.

"Community physicians are integral to the success of our regional medical education affiliates," Tracy says. "Thanks to their contributions, we are able to provide Iowa with new generations of physicians who understand the challenges and rewards of community medicine."

Other UI-affiliates are headquartered in Davenport, Des Moines, Mason City and Waterloo. A Cedar Rapids affiliation is expected soon.

Though residency training in family medicine is a primary responsibility for regional medical education organizations, they fulfill many other roles as well.

With increased emphasis on community-based experience in the UI medical curriculum, regional centers have become valuable partners in teaching undergraduate medical students. They also provide training and practice experience for pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other health professionals.

The Sioux City project will have long-term benefits for the area and the state, Tracy says. "The center will help attract tomorrow's health professional workforce. It is an investment in the future of the Siouxland region," he explains. UI research shows that 60 percent of family medicine residents who train in Iowa remain in the state to begin practice, a quarter of them in the areas where they trained.