FSU College of Medicine, Apalachee Center and TMH will launch psychiatry residency program

The College of Medicine at Florida State University.
The College of Medicine at Florida State University.

The Florida State University College of Medicine, in partnership with Apalachee Center and Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, has received initial accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) for its psychiatry residency program, addressing a critical need for the training of mental health care providers for the region and the state.

The College of Medicine-sponsored program will be based at Apalachee Center, the region’s largest provider of behavioral health services that helps individuals recovering from emotional, psychiatric and substance abuse crises. It will provide four years of training in psychiatry for medical school graduates and welcome the first four residents July 1. The program has the potential to add post-residency fellowship opportunities and designated subspecialties that could include addiction medicine and child and adolescent psychiatry.

“This is exciting and welcomed news,” said FSU College of Medicine Interim Dean Alma Littles, M.D. “There is a recognized shortage of psychiatrists in the state and a more critical shortage in this area of the state. I look forward to seeing the College of Medicine contribute to expanding access to mental and behavioral health care for patients in the Panhandle and beyond and training the next generation of psychiatrists.”

Apalachee Center and Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) leadership are  excited that the new venture received initial approval.

“This represents an enormous step forward for behavioral health services in this region and promises to dramatically enrich the pool of psychiatrists available to care for the needs of North Floridians,” said Jay Reeve, president and chief executive officer of Apalachee Center. “The behavioral health system of care available through Apalachee and TMH, in concert with the academic training provided by the College of Medicine, will provide a uniquely rich training environment spanning the full spectrum of practice for our psychiatrists in training. Our new psychiatry residents will benefit enormously from the coordination and broad training experience, especially with traditionally underserved populations, that this system of care offers.”

“As a nonprofit health care system, TMH is dedicated to ongoing partnership with the FSU College of Medicine and Apalachee Center to meet our region’s health care needs now and into the future,” said Dr. Dean Watson, vice president and chief integration officer at TMH. “The psychiatry residency program will help address two of our region’s top health priorities: mental health and substance abuse. Patients will have greater access to care, and we will have an additional avenue of recruiting and retaining highly qualified physicians.

“In addition, the expansion of residency programs is a significant step toward our shared goal of becoming an academic medical center where the latest treatments, technologies and resources are developed to the benefit of our patients and community.”

The program will allow psychiatry residents to train across the full spectrum of inpatient, residential and outpatient services. These training sites potentially encompass Apalachee Center and TMH’s 13 outpatient clinics, eight residential programs and two acute psychiatric hospitals. TMH also operates the region’s central receiving facility, emergency services and other health care sites in collaboration with the College of Medicine.

The residency’s administrative offices will be housed at the Live Oak Behavioral Health Center, a new behavioral health facility opening this spring on Centennial Boulevard in Tallahassee. This facility will also provide clinical behavioral health services for adult and pediatric patients from TMH and Apalachee Center who are managing acute mental health disorders, including substance use disorders.

“We are thrilled to announce the launch of our psychiatry residency program, made possible by the hard work of everyone at the FSU College of Medicine, Apalachee Center and Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare,” said College of Medicine Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education William C. Boyer. “We are committed to addressing the persistent shortage of psychiatrists and improving access to mental health care in our community and beyond.”

Dr. Mridul “Butch” Mazumder will serve as the inaugural program director, while continuing his duties as clerkship director for geriatrics at the College of Medicine’s Tallahassee Regional Campus.

“Our program will be a key step toward solving this area’s shortages in mental health care,” said Mazumder, who joined the College of Medicine faculty in 2017. “In a 2022 poll conducted by Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, mental health care and access to medical care tied as the most important issues affecting our community. Care access is even more difficult for the elderly, minorities, and other underserved populations.

“Demographics of Florida psychiatrists show a large cluster at or near retirement age, and as these providers leave practice, our patients will have greater hardships. We plan to train and retain a new generation of psychiatrists and are excited to offer resources of Florida State University’s College of Medicine, including its clinical practice sites administered by Florida Medical Practice Plan, as well as other training sites including the Apalachee Center and Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare.”

Psychiatry is one of the fastest growing residency programs in the nation, with a 23.9% increase in active residents over the previous five years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

With the addition of this program, the College of Medicine now offers nine residency programs and three fellowships. With an eye on the addition of future residency programs and fellowship, the college is answering the call to keep more Florida-educated physicians in-state for practice.

Due to an overall shortage of residency slots in Florida – the nation’s third-largest state – nearly 60 percent of graduating medical students leave the state for residency training. According to the AAMC, most physicians end up practicing within an hour of where they completed their residencies.

“This growth in our graduate medical education programs will provide opportunities for more of our students and residents to train and remain in this area to practice,” Littles said. “The program will be a part of the growing FSU Health initiative, adding cutting-edge research and discovery of new knowledge to improve treatment of mental health conditions.”