• June 22, 2024

Thirteen new doctors-in-training set to practice in McAllen and Brownsville

Thirteen new doctors-in-training set to practice in McAllen and Brownsville

By Karen Villarreal

McALLEN, TEXAS– The UTRGV School of Medicine again has expanded medical training opportunities with local hospitals, starting with the new Internal Medicine residency program at Rio Grande Regional Hospital and Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville.

The residency program is a collaboration with HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division, which is bringing resident physicians to McAllen and Brownsville this summer, with plans to seat 150 total resident physicians by 2029. Both Rio Grande Regional Hospital and Valley Regional Medical Center are HCA-affiliate hospitals.

  • On Monday, 13 resident physicians – the first cohort of the Internal Medicine program at Rio Grande Regional Hospital in McAllen – gathered for a breakfast meet-and-greet and toured the facility with clinical directors and hospital leadership.
  • On Thursday, June 20, the cohort will meet the staff and leadership team at Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville, where they also will practice. The new program marks the first time UTRGV will have a physician residency program in Brownsville.

Dr. Adriana Gomez, chief medical officer for Rio Grande Regional Hospital, introduced the residents to their new team and the HCA Healthcare system in which they operate.

“We’ve put our hearts and souls into bringing this residency program to life. It’s been years in the making,” Gomez said.  “We’re very excited to welcome you, and I hope that you get to have a fulfilling career within HCA and UTRGV.”


Dr. Everardo Cobos, chair of Medicine & Oncology with the UTRGV School of Medicine, said the university’s partnership with HCA opens the door for medical training opportunities for this cohort and future residents down the line.

“HCA is one of the largest health systems in the country and operates one of the largest graduate medical education programs,” he said.  “Three years from now, when these doctors are getting ready to graduate and looking for a career path, there’ll be a lot of HCA facilities at their disposal either here or nationally that have residencies in specialties and subspecialties.”

He said UTRGV is also looking forward to developing additional residency and fellowships at Rio Grande Regional Hospital.

“There’s a possibility that we’ll have cardiology, nephrology, other specialty fellowships right here in this facility,” he said.

Dr. Michelle Lopez, UTRGV School of Medicine associate program director and assistant professor of Internal Medicine, said that in Brownsville, the residencies will expand the UTRGV footprint and bring academic medicine to more of the Rio Grande Valley.

“The residents come from very diverse backgrounds and all of them are eager to provide excellent patient care to this community and start this academic journey,” she said.


Adriana Morales, director of business development at Rio Grande Regional, said the leadership team and faculty for the program is committed to training their residents with a standard that ensures the patient receives the care they are expecting.

“This community is known for its patient care, for their outcomes, and for that compassion that we show on a daily basis,” she told the new cohort.

Over the course of their training, the residents may see patients from other HCA facilities that feed into the hospital, including freestanding emergency departments, clinics, urgent care centers, laboratories, a surgery center and ambulatory surgery center, diabetes center and breast imaging center.

Cristina Kochi Yamamoto, one of the new cohort members from Lima, Peru, said being part of the inaugural class means setting the bar for the program – an exciting challenge.

“I think it’s going to be a great experience, being so close to our supervising faculty and learning so much,” she said.

Kochi Yamamoto’s interest in medicine, coincidentally, was brought about by a doctor from the Rio Grande Valley.

“In my senior year at high school, I got the chance to go into a public hospital in Lima. And the doctor who showed me around is now a pulmonary and critical care specialist in McAllen,” Kochi Yamamoto said.

She admitted that starting a new life in a new place is scary, but she likes the community already.

“People are so welcoming and warm, and it has helped me a lot to start getting adjusted here,” she said.

More than anything, she looks forward to being able to treat patients.

“I believe in being of service to everyone who needs it,” she said.

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