NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Construction is still underway at what will be home to the new Graduate Medical Education Program in North Little Rock. Doors will open in September, but residents are starting their first week in Internal Medicine and Family Practice.

“I’m nervous, excited,” says George Sebastian, Family Practice Resident.

“I think having such a big group it will be great learning from each other and we’ll have more people we can go to when we need them,” says Erica Jarcaig, Internal Medicine Resident.

24 residents are kicking off this inaugural class. Baptist Health and UAMS partnered to offer these three year programs as a solution to address the physician shortage and to expand health care in Arkansas.

“Where physicians train tend to indicate where they could end up practicing,” says Troy Wells, Baptist Health CEO.

Baptist Health CEO, Troy Wells, says this partnership could be the difference in keeping physicians in Arkansas. The hospitals plan to add other GME programs in the near future, such as Behavioral Health, Psychiatry, and General Surgery just to name a few.

“Adding graduate medical education is very consititent with our mission in terms of how we’re designed to serve Arkansas and the communities that we’re in and we think this will have a tremendous impact in our state long term,” says Wells.

While there are a number of residency programs nationwide, Jarcaig is one of many who came from outside the Natural State for their medical residency training. She’s from Windsor Ontario Canada.

“I knew that I wanted to be somewhere where I would have the opportunity to grow and that’s exactly what the program did. It’s just checked off all the boxes for me,” says Jarcaig.

They’re ready to get to work and train these next couple of years.

“Hoping to make a good positive impact to everyone, not just the program but everyone who is in the Little Rock area,” says George Sebastian, Family Practice Resident.

The GME Program should be able to train up to 120 residents in about 5 years.