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EDINBURG, RGV – UT-Rio Grande Valley President Guy Bailey says medical residents can have a bigger impact in the Valley than they can in other parts of the country.

Bailey spoke about the future of general medical education at a White Coat Ceremony hosted by Doctors Hospital at Renaissance and held at the Edinburg Conference at Renaissance. He started by congratulating incoming DHR residents for successfully completing their studies at medical school and welcomed them to the Valley.

“The Rio Grande Valley is a place like no other. It is very rich in culture, rich in tradition. It is a place where I think you will find people warm and welcoming. It is a place that continues to grow, not just in population but in opportunities,” Bailey said.

Bailey said he is proud to call the Valley home. “I have been living here for two years and I have never enjoyed living anywhere more in my life. I think you will fall in love with it, just like I have,” he told the medical residents.

Bailey then listed some of the major challenges the medical residents are going to encounter.

“Unfortunately, the Rio Grande Valley is also a place that has tremendous health needs but maybe that is an opportunity for you. It is a region with alarming rates of diabetes, a region with a large percentage of uninsured residents. A region that is medically underserved across the board. Our ratio of doctors to patients is far below the national average and even the state average. That is why we are excited that you are here and we are grateful that you are here,” Bailey said.

“The hands on training you will receive from DHR physicians and their teams, I think will be invaluable to you. This is a terrific opportunity you have to make a positive impact on a region and on a people of a region. I feel confident in saying that the impact you have here will be far greater than the impact that many of your colleagues will have elsewhere.”

Bailey said UTRGV is “very proud” to be a partner of Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. “In fact, DHR is our largest partner. Graduate medical education is important to us and we think it will only grow. We are looking for opportunities to expand that.”

Bailey then spoke about medical research at UTRGV. He said it is expanding and cited, by way of an example, the work of Dr. Sarah Williams-Blangero, director of the South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute.

“In 2014 we were able to lure a world class diabetes researcher, Dr. Sarah Williams-Blangero and her team of 22 researchers down to the Valley. They brought $12 million in federal funding with them. They have since increased that by $56 million and her team has grown to 52 researchers. We feel we can have a major impact on diabetes,” Bailey said.

Bailey said the new medical residents will have an opportunity to learn about and benefit from this research and thus have a huge impact in the community.

“We have medical residents rotating throughout the Valley, in health clinics throughout the Valley. In fact, we have our faculty and students working in the colonias. These are remote areas where the healthcare needs are tremendous and where your impact is almost unfathomable,” Bailey said.

“Just today we unveiled one of our new initiatives. We have a mobile health unit now that we will be sending out into the colonias and elsewhere. At UTRGV and also at DHR we see ourselves as part of the community and outreach into the community is one of our goals.”

Bailey finished his remarks to the medical residents with words of encouragement.

“I think you will find, as you are here, that you will be welcomed here. You will have an impact here and you will have the time of your life. I want to welcome you again. Thank you very much for coming here. I look forward to working with you.”