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Medical calling

Residents Paulina Castro, left, and Justin Menezes practice taking each other's blood pressure.

Residents Paulina Castro, left, and Justin Menezes practice taking each other's blood pressure.

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Dr. Jessica Klieger went into medical school thinking she would be a medical examiner.

During her clinical rotations at Florida Hospital, she was placed into the family medicine rotation. It was there she found her calling, because she got to know patients on a personal level as opposed to knowing one whole body system or one patient complaint for the day.

Klieger is one of the many residents who are a part of the Florida Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program, where it trains doctors in the specialty of family medicine.

This residency program packed up its bags on June 28 and moved from its old location — Rollins and Orange Avenues — to its new location in Winter Park — right across the street from the Winter Park Hospital Memorial — at 133 Benmore Drive.

The move into the $7 million, 6,500-square-foot medical office was designed with a purpose. The program was moved to Winter Park to be in a community environment and to help lessen the family care physician shortage that is expected to happen in 15 years.

By 2025, Florida is expected to have a shortage of 40,000 primary care physicians, because 25 percent of family physicians are older than 65 and will be retiring within the next 15 years.

The American Academy of Family Physicians reported only 10 percent of medical students are choosing family medicine as their specialty. The residency program is hoping the residents from the program will disperse into the community and help relieve that shortage.

"There is a 70 percent chance that when you complete the program, you are going to stay in that area and take care of those people," said Dr. Jennifer Keehbauch, director of the Florida Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program.

Winter Park Mayor and Winter Park Memorial Hospital Administrator Ken Bradley said he has seen numbers that exceed the 40,000 shortage of family physicians in Central Florida.

"I've heard as high as 50,000 to 100,000 potential shortages of physicians," Bradley said.

Keehbauch said family medicine thrives best in a community setting, which makes Winter Park an ideal location for the residency program.

She also said it's all about continuity of care, and the new location provides that continuity with it being right across the street from the hospital and a few miles away from nursing homes such as the Mayflower Retirement Community.

"We can see patients in our office; we can see patients in the hospital, and we can see patients in the nursing home," Keehbauch said. "There is no miscommunication; everyone knows what's going on with the patient, because we took care of them in both settings."

The Robert Graham for Policy Studies reported the family physician generates $940,606 per physician per year with his/her staffing and building.

Bradley said, "It brings more than 100 new jobs to Winter Park directly."

"Patients who have a primary care physician who coordinate their care live longer," Keehbauh said.

Klieger said she would like to stay in Winter Park upon completing the residency program, but it ultimately depends on the job opportunities available.

"I think it would be great to stick with the same patients and have that continuity," Klieger said. "Winter Park really seems to embrace primary care, and I want to work in an area that has that philosophy."