Patrick Johansing is wrapping up his final year of medical school and looking forward to the next step on his path to becoming a family physician.
The 30-year-old, who lives in Kennewick with his wife and two young children, won’t have to travel far for the intensive three-year training period.
He’ll be part of Kadlec Regional Medical Center’s first family medicine residency class. The Richland hospital welcomes Johansing and five other residents this summer.
“I’m thrilled. It’s going to be a lot of fun. It will be a lot of work, but a lot of fun,” Johansing said.
He attends Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, and he’s been completing rotations in the Tri-Cities the past couple of years. His wife, Marie, grew up in Kennewick.
The Kadlec residency program’s location is appealing, and so are the opportunities it will offer, Johansing said.
The six residents will come on board in June for orientation and begin seeing patients in July.
They’ll have their own patient roster, providing care under the supervision of senior physicians. They’ll also complete rotations in specialties from general surgery to obstetrics and behavioral health.
The other residents are Tyler Clark of Lewiston, Idaho; Zubair Rehman of Williamsville, N.Y.; Jinesh Shah of Burtonsville, Md.; Tayyab Tahir of Lawrenceville, Ga.; and Daniel Torba of Salt Lake City.
The first crop of residents is strong, officials say.
“This is the inaugural class. They’re setting the stage for every group after,” said Amy Sweetwood Carrasco, director of graduate medical education. “We want them to be leaders in the community. They are very energetic. They want to go out and do good in our area.”
Dr. Erick Isaacson, the residency program director, added that, “it’s exciting to be at this point after many years of planning.”
Dr. Katie Karlson is the associate program director. Stacy Jackson serves as program coordinator.
Kadlec is remodeling space in the Richland Medical Center building, across Goethals Drive from the hospital, to house the residency program for the next few years. The program eventually will move into Columbia Basin College’s second health sciences building in Richland, which is expected to open in 2017.
The Kadlec program will have 18 residents when it fully matures after three years, with six residents in each class.
The first class is all men, which wasn’t by design. About 530 people applied for the six slots. After Kadlec officials narrowed the pool and interviewed about 90, they ranked their top candidates. The prospective residents also ranked their top program picks, and the national residency match program did the rest.
The matches were announced in March.
As Kadlec starts its residency program, a physician shortage looms, brought on by factors including an aging baby boomer population and greater access to health care. Eastern Washington has a particular dearth of doctors per capita when compared with the west side and the rest of the country.
More medical schools have opened or expanded around the U.S., but residency slots haven’t keep pace.
A residency is the next step after medical school — one that’s required to become licensed and board-certified. This year, more than 1,000 U.S. medical school graduates didn’t secure a residency because of lack of slots, Carrasco said. Two years ago, the number was 500.
Kadlec’s new residency program isn’t the only one in the Tri-Cities. Trios Health in Kennewick has internal and family medicine residency programs.
Along with adding needed residency slots, the local programs also are expected to help bring more physicians to the area.
A majority of doctors end up practicing close to where they completed their residency.
“What I really want this to be is a world-class residency that people are going to want to come to, where we can use all the resources Kadlec has. That we train providers to be leaders within the community, take care of population health, and to get out and educate and volunteer and to really make a difference,” Carrasco said. “We want people to be here for the long run.”