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TheRx: Training Oklahoma’s physicians

Jason Sanders
Jason Sanders

Spring is always exciting for the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine because it marks the time when medical students take a significant step toward their future careers.

During Match Day, held each March, fourth-year medical students learn where they have matched for residency education in their chosen specialties of medicine. It is a time of great anticipation for students and their families, followed by making plans to begin residency on July 1. OU College of Medicine students traditionally have done quite well in the match program, earning prestigious positions at academic medical centers and health systems across the United States.

A significant portion of our graduating students likewise choose to stay home because they have matched with OU residency programs. This year, nearly 60 students out of a class of 165 matched with OU, and we are grateful to guide them in the next phase of their educational journey at OU Medicine — taking care of patients under supervision by attending physicians, and improving access for Oklahomans.

The OU College of Medicine plays an essential role in educating the next generation of physicians for Oklahoma. The college trains about 60 percent of Oklahoma’s physicians, a mission we have delivered for nearly 120 years as the state’s flagship university. As a predominantly rural state, Oklahoma needs more physicians, especially in counties outside the urban areas, and we are committed to filling that important need.

More OU College of Medicine graduates decide to stay in Oklahoma to practice medicine as compared to trainees in other states. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, Oklahoma ranks in the top 10 states in retaining medical school and residency graduates.

This spring, the OU College of Medicine’s residency program will observe its 100th anniversary. Much has advanced over a century in terms of how we educate residents. In today’s clinical learning environment, we focus patient safety, quality improvement, access, care transitions, and health care teams with nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals. Our residency program has grown, as well: Today we have 742 residents and fellows training in 75 adult and children’s specialties and subspecialties.

Physicians play a significant role in the well-being of a population, as well as the economic health of a state. At the OU College of Medicine and Health Sciences Center, we are deeply committed to producing highly skilled and compassionate physicians who will care for Oklahomans into the future.

Dr. Jason Sanders is senior vice president and povost at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.