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UAMS receives $750,000 from the federal government to study family medicine residency program



El Dorado, Arkansas – A $750,000 federal grant has been awarded to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to support the reestablishment of a family medicine residency program in El Dorado.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration is the institution that gave out the funding. UAMS is among the fifteen organizations across the country that have been granted funds from an endeavor worth $11 million, aimed at initiating medical residency programs in rural areas.

According to Donya Watson, M.D., an associate professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, the initiative ought to alleviate rural Arkansas’s labor problem.

“The establishment of a family medicine residency program in El Dorado will provide a framework to help address the workforce shortage that rural areas across Arkansas are facing,” Watson said. “We would like to recruit and train graduates from Arkansas medical schools who will hopefully stay in Arkansas to practice.”

The El Dorado residency program aims to increase access to healthcare in rural areas and build up the physician workforce in underprivileged communities in south Arkansas.

The program will assist build a rural track family medicine program with an emphasis on maternal health and obstetrics. It is a collaboration between UAMS and South Arkansas Regional Hospital.

Watson claims that her new role as program director has brought her full circle.

“For me personally, as a graduate of the program here in 1997, I am very excited about the opportunity to help train the next generation of the health care workforce for El Dorado and south Arkansas,” Watson said.

The program intends to enroll its first residents in the summer of 2026 and receive accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in 2025.

While the majority of the trainees’ training will be done in clinical settings located in El Dorado and south Arkansas, they will finish a portion of their residency at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

When it opens, the El Dorado location will become UAMS’ ninth regional office and contribute to the inflow of medical professionals into Union County. Vice-chancellor of UAMS Regional Campuses Richard Turnage, M.D., claimed that the program truly made a difference.

“Studies show that many physicians choose to practice within 100 miles of where they received their residency training, which is one reason UAMS is so committed to our Regional Campuses and our rural residency programs,” Turnage said. “These programs make a real difference in improving health care access throughout the state.”

Most family practice doctors currently practicing in rural Arkansas received their training at one of UAMS’ regional campuses.



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