PROSSER -- A new family medicine residency program soon will set up offices in Prosser.
It's an effort by the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic to encourage more doctors to set up shop in rural Central and Eastern Washington.
The program will train osteopathic doctors in family practice medicine and will be based at Valley Vista Medical Center in Prosser and funded by the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences. Residents will practice medicine all over the Valley at various Farm Workers Clinic facilities, as well as at PMH Medical Center in Prosser and Kennewick General Hospital.
Medical students must complete a residency after graduating from medical school, like a modern-day apprenticeship. The new program, like most residencies, will be three years long, and residents will practice under the supervision of fully licensed physicians.
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The Yakima Valley is considered underserved by family and primary care doctors, and several health care providers have made efforts in the past few years to reverse that by establishing residency programs for training in rural-area hospitals and clinics. PNWU was established with the goal of creating family doctors in rural areas of the Northwest.
The new residency program was accredited by the American Osteopathic Association in 2010, and is open to all osteopathic medicine school graduates, though program directors hope to receive applications from local PNWU students as well. Eventually, they hope to open the residency to allopathic, or MDs, not just osteopathic physicians.
"We will be looking for doctors who want to practice in rural areas," said Dr. Ross Ronish, chief medical officer with the Farm Workers Clinic, in a news release. "This gives them an opportunity to train where they are going to work."
The program will accept its first two students to begin in July 2013. Two residents will be added each year, with a goal of six by July 2015.
The Farm Workers Clinic is applying for additional funding as a Federally Qualified Health Center through the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act.