The FAU Pulmonary Medicine and Critical Care Medicine Fellowship will be based at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, part of Baptist Health – the primary site for the program – as well as Bethesda Hospital, also part of Baptist Health, and the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center. (Photo by Alex Dolce)

Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine has received initial accreditation from the national Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) for its fifth university-sponsored fellowship. The FAU Pulmonary Medicine and Critical Care Medicine Fellowship will be based at Boca Raton Regional Hospital , part of Baptist Health – the primary site for the program – as well as Bethesda Hospital, also part of Baptist Health, and the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center . All are members of the FAU College of Medicine Graduate Medical Education (GME) Consortium.

The new FAU Pulmonary Medicine/Critical Care Medicine Fellowship will welcome three fellows in July 2024. The three-year program will include three fellows per year for a total of nine fellows. Pulmonary medicine and critical care medicine are subspecialties of internal medicine. This newest fellowship complements existing residency programs at FAU: internal medicine (launched in 2014); general surgery (launched in 2016); emergency medicine (launched in 2017); psychiatry (launched in 2018); and neurology (launched in 2018). This latest fellowship brings a total of five fellowship programs to FAU: vascular surgery, cardiology, geriatric medicine, and hospice and palliative care.

The goal of the FAU GME Consortium is to ensure that the region will have an adequate and well-trained physician workforce by establishing residency and fellowship programs in specialties that will serve their communities.

“Our FAU GME Consortium has made great progress in addressing Florida’s physician shortages through our residency and fellowship programs and we are very excited to add our fifth fellowship in pulmonary medicine/critical care medicine,” said Julie Pilitsis, M.D., Ph.D., dean and vice president of medical affairs, FAU Schmidt College of Medicine. “Fellows in this combined program will receive exceptional training to care for critically ill patients and patients with lung disease in state-of-the-art health care facilities spearheaded by leading researchers and physicians.”

Ralph Palumbo, M.D., specializes in critical care medicine, pulmonology and sleep medicine at both Boca Raton Regional and Bethesda hospitals, is one of the associate program directors in the internal medicine residency program in FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine, and also will serve as the program director of the new fellowship program.

Boca Raton Regional Hospital boasts 400 beds, more than 2,800 employees and more than 800 primary and specialty physicians on staff. The hospital is a recognized leader in cardiovascular care, oncology, women’s health, orthopedics, emergency medicine and the neurosciences. The hospital also is designated as the primary teaching site for FAU’s internal medicine and general surgery residency programs.

Bethesda Hospital, with two locations in Boynton Beach, has 481 beds, more than 2,300 employees and more than 750 primary and specialty physicians on staff. The hospital offers a full array of health care services including cardiovascular care; general, vascular and endovascular surgery; maternity, women’s health services; emergency care; diagnostic imaging; rehabilitation; orthopedics; and cancer care. The hospital has a strong academic component, rotating 75 residents through the hospital every year in each of three programs – internal medicine, emergency medicine, and surgery.   

“Our state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge technology and outstanding physician and clinician teams at Boca Raton Regional Hospital will provide unparalleled clinical training for fellows throughout this three-year program,” said Samer Fahmy, M.D., chief medical officer at Boca Raton Regional Hospital. “We look forward to working in concert with FAU, Bethesda Hospital and the West Palm Beach VA to ensure that our fellows are among the most qualified and highly trained physicians in these fields of medicine.”

Critical care medicine and pulmonary medicine fellows in the new program will have the opportunity to train alongside top physicians and clinicians in the field. The program will include rotations at all four locations: Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Bethesda Hospital (east and west campuses) and the West Palm Beach VA hospital.

FAU’s residency and fellowship programs are spearheaded by Curtis Whitehair, M.D., associate dean for graduate medical education, designated institutional official, interim chair of the Clinical Neurosciences Department and an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation in the Schmidt College of Medicine. 

More than 175 resident physicians and fellows go through these FAU programs each year. Since the inception of the first residency program in internal medicine in 2014, more than 205 physicians have graduated from these programs. Approximately 50 percent of all graduates end up practicing in Florida.