Creighton University, Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS), District Medical Group (DMG), and Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center have partnered to create one of Arizona’s largest Graduate Medical Education (GME) programs.

The Creighton University-Arizona Health Education Alliance will oversee the GME programs at some of the Valley’s largest health care institutions — MIHS, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, and DMG.

“We are combining those programs so there will be only one residency program sponsored by Creighton University,” DMG CEO Dr. Kote Chundu said. “It will be called the Phoenix Residency, [and] we can add more residency training programs because there are more teaching opportunities across hospitals.”

The Alliance will have 325 GME residence under its umbrella, making it the second largest provider of GME programs in Arizona, after the University of Arizona.

“Our organizations all benefit from access to the most highly trained health care professionals available,” Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center President and CEO Patty White said. “The Alliance allows us to take proactive steps to improve educational opportunities in health care in Arizona, which in turn provides us the opportunity to increase the number of doctors in the state and provide better care to our patients.”

The Alliance is important because it comes at a time when the state is facing a health care workforce shortage. Arizona ranks lower than the national average for the number of primary care physicians (PCP) with 126.1 — including general practice, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, geriatrics and internal medicine — per 100,000 residents.

The state is also below the national average in the number of residency students. According to the University of Arizona’s Arizona Area Health Education Centers program, Arizona has 21.5 residents per 100,000 individuals whereas the U.S. has 35.76.

“We’re in the bottom third as far as those numbers of residents… but we’re actually in the top third for residency [students] who complete residency and then stay in the area for practice,” MIHS Chief Operating Officer Kris Gaw said. “Knowing that statistic, the ultimate goal was the sum of all of our parts are going to be greater than the individual to make sure that we really can meet the demands of a growing community like Maricopa County.”

According to reports, 75 percent of physicians will stay in the state where they complete their residency, meaning that if a state has more residency and GME spots, it will statically have an increased number of physicians.

Creighton’s sponsorship of the Alliance shows its growing impact in Arizona’s medical community. The Jesuit university also announced it would be opening a four-year medical campus in Phoenix in Sept. 2018.

“We are very pleased to be able to work with these outstanding medical providers to enhance the graduate medical education programs offered in Arizona,” Creighton University President Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, SJ, Ph.D., said in a statement. “It is an honor to work with these three exceptional healthcare institutions and provide our students with a superior environment for learning medicine in Arizona.”

According to the Alliance, it will also expand current health education programs offered by developing new academic and clinical education programs in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and allied health.

“The hope is to increase the quality of the programs and also what we call an interprofessional education. That is what the future is going to be,” Chundu said.

For more information on the Alliance, click here.

This story was originally published at Chamber Business News.