Texas Emergency Medicine Residency Program Won’t Shut Down

Derick Alison
Derick Alison
5 Min Read

A Texas emergency medicine residency program was saved from being permanently closed this month after a groundswell of support from residents, physicians, and local politicians, according to reports.

On October 12, Christus Spohn Shoreline Hospital administrators informed the residents and faculty of the Corpus Christi Emergency Medicine Residency Program that it would be discontinued in 2026, after the final class of residents graduated.

But on December 1, the Nueces County commissioners approved a 6-year deal to secure annual funding for the residency program, which has nearly 40 emergency medicine residents, according to the program’s website. The funding would come from the Nueces County hospital district’s reserve funds, according to KIII News.

Shortly after the hospital announced the planned closure, residents and faculty expressed starting a petition that garnered more than 2,000 signatures within a few days.

The residents who created the petition wrote that the announcement came “without warning” and that the loss of the program would be “a great blow to our city’s health infrastructure.” The petition now has almost 4,000 signatures.

The hospital said in a statement released at the time that it “ultimately determined that our ability to sustain this program for the long-term future was limited,” according to KIII News.

The outcry prompted Nueces County commissioners to call a special meeting to discuss the planned closure and consider alternative options.

During the first county commissioners’ hearing, residents and faculty shared the petition along with testimony about the value of an ongoing need for the program. One faculty member, John Herrick, DO, told the county commissioners that he would “never forget the first day I worked there with no residents. There were 17 charts in the rack which means 17 patients that had been waiting all night to be seen, and the first 5 or 6 I saw were deathly ill.”

He added that they “solved that the day the residency [program]” was established at the hospital.

The testimony led county commissioners to develop a special committee to help determine a new path forward. Eventually, hospital administrators and the hospital district commissioners developed the new deal approved earlier this month.

The deal reportedly will provide $1 million a year for the program in the first 2 years before increasing to $4 million a year in the final years of the 6-year deal. The total cost will be $21,250,000, but all parties involved expressed that a longer-term deal would be needed, according to KIII News.

Alison Haddock, MD, an emergency physician in Houston and president-elect of the American College of Emergency Physicians, told MedPage Today the specialty has experienced significant headwinds in recent years.

Haddock explained that a variety of issues, including provider and nurse shortages, have resulted in increased need for patients to use emergency departments longer and more frequently, which can result in overcrowded departments. Increases in violence against healthcare workers in emergency departments have also added to those challenges, she said.

“The same challenges that are facing the specialty in general are a challenge for residencies and residents, and are having a really negative impact on morale in emergency departments,” she said.

Haddock noted that medical students are aware of these difficulties as well, which can have a chilling effect on the number of new resident applications for emergency medicine. Indeed, in last year’s match cycle, more than 550 emergency medicine positions initially went unfilled.

Still, she said the positive outcome for the hospital’s emergency medicine residents shows there is still support for the work of emergency physicians.

“Residents are critical to the functioning of emergency departments across the country,” Haddock said. “I love seeing a case where people outside of the emergency department really saw the value of what emergency medicine is bringing to the table.”

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    Michael DePeau-Wilson is a reporter on MedPage Today’s enterprise & investigative team. He covers psychiatry, long covid, and infectious diseases, among other relevant U.S. clinical news. Follow

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