welcomed six new doctors Friday for a three-year residency program aimed at attracting the best and the brightest and keeping them in Manatee County.
With doctors growing leery of malpractice lawsuits and taking their talents to other states, officials said they hope the county's first residents will decide to stay in the area once their three years are up. Bob Bartz, president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, said studies have shown residents usually go on to practice within 40 miles of the location of their residency.
"We hope you'll stay in this community," Bartz told them, "and we'll do everything we can to make it a pleasant stay."
The recent medical school graduates were presented with white coats embroidered with their names and the hospital logo, a traditional welcome for new doctors. Some hailed from as far away as China and Haiti. They earned their degrees from schools all over the country, including in Bradenton.
"It's not the south, per se, but it has that small-town feel, especially Bradenton," said Dr. Rebecca Workman, an Alabama native who was one of two residents who just finished up four years of training at . "Everyone's so friendly. I was pleasantly surprised."
Workman, who lives in Sarasota with her husband, Mike, a young adult pastor at The Tabernacle Church, said she could see herself continuing to practice in Manatee once her residency is over.
For Dr. Derek DeWitt, a Mesa, Ariz., native, has only been in town for two weeks but said he's already received a friendly welcome.
"Everyone seems really excited to have us," DeWitt said. "You want people to want you to be here."
The other residents are Dr. Lisa Shannon of Honolulu, Hawaii; Dr. Tian Davis of Zixi, China; Dr. William "Billy" Evans Jr. of Clermont; and Dr. Jhonstanley Searcy-Schnaeidr of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
The residents will work in either internal medicine or family practice medicine under the guidance of experienced physicians at Manatee Memorial as well as in doctors' offices in the area.
They were welcomed Friday by Manatee County Commissioners John Chappie and Carol Whitmore, representatives of the offices of State Reps. Jim Boyd and Ray Pilon and other local dignitaries.