HCA Healthcare Kingwood graduated its first class of students from its recently established medical residency program May 26.

According to Residency Program Director Dr. Rajeev Raghavan, the program, which was established in 2019, is the first residency program in the Greater Houston area outside the Texas Medical Center.

Raghavan noted the program, which takes three to five years to complete, currently houses about 120 graduate students training in emergency medicine, general surgery and internal medicine.

“This gives us a huge opportunity for us to really brand our medical center ... and make [HCA Healthcare Kingwood] a standalone, outstanding medical facility,” Raghavan said during a May 17 Partnership Lake Houston State of Health Care event. “I think it’s really going to be an exciting time, and it’s going to bring a lot of growth to the medical field within our community.”

Raghavan noted the program is aiming to expand training to vascular surgery, bariatric surgery, cardiology and nephrology in the next few years. Additionally, the medical facility’s residency program aims to increase underrepresented minorities in medicine, Raghavan said.

“About 70% of the student body is either Black or Hispanic,” he said. “Many of them are the first in their family to go to college, the first in their family to go to medical school. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”

Raghavan said he is hopeful that a portion of the recent and future graduates will practice medicine locally after completing the program.

“We have 20 residents graduating, seven of whom have decided to stay in the Kingwood area,” he said. “So just imagine they love this place so much that they want to stay and grow their practice here with all of us.”