Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
Facing a grave shortage of primary care physicians the Yakima region’s hospitals created an innovative residency program to bring new doctors to the region. As a result of these efforts the Central Washington Family Medicine Residency Program has graduated 100 Family Medicine physicians and the Yakima Valley has 32 additional family physicians serving our population with several more in established practices in rural Eastern Washington.
St. Elizabeth Hospital (now Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center) and Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital started the Central Washington Family Medicine Residency Program nearly twenty years ago. The three-year residency training program accepts applications from MD and DO medical students and graduates preparing for certification in the specialty of Family Medicine. The residency program primarily chooses graduates with ties to the northwest and looks forward to increased applications from the expanded University of Washington Medical School class and new applications from Yakima’s Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences.
Accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the American Osteopathic Association, the program’s focus is teaching residents in a community-based environment. This method has proven to produce primary care physicians who are twice as likely to practice in underserved communities. Because of this success faculty, medical residents, and graduates of the program now account for more than 50 percent of the active medical staff in the Family Medicine Department in Yakima’s two hospitals.
This year the program was one of 11 programs in the nation to receive the inaugural Teaching Health Center designation. This award allows the residency to expand the number of resident physicians in each class from six to eight. According to Russell Maier, MD, program director for Central Washington Family Medicine, “There is no greater good than the health of the general public and our work in training the future generations of healthcare providers is a real joy and an honor.” Yakima’s healthcare community strives to provide top-quality care and this program is one of the many reasons it has achieved a stellar reputation.