Why will the Cedar Rapids Family Medicine Residency Program close next month?

(Gazette File photo)
(Gazette File photo)

On July 1, the Cedar Rapids Family Medicine Residency Program, the sole training program for family medicine doctors following their graduation from medical school, will close its doors.

Earlier this year, Mercy Medical Center and UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s jointly announced officials no longer would support the Cedar Rapids Medical Education Foundation, which was established in 1971 to oversee the three-year residency program.

The foundation had been set up to address a family medicine physician shortage in Cedar Rapids with the hope that residents would continue practicing in the community after graduation.

However, in the past five years 31 percent of residents remained in Cedar Rapids after graduation, according to officials.

In addition, funding from federal officials for graduate medical education no longer was meeting up with the actual cost to run the program, said Mercy Medical Center CEO Tim Charles.

When cost of recruiting became significantly less than standing up a program that wasn’t retaining residents in the community, he said officials had to reconcile the cost benefit.

“The deficit was getting greater and greater, and it became fairly clear that sustainability was not feasible,” Charles said.

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