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Learn, care, stay: MultiCare’s graduate medical education program shapes the future of South Sound medicine

Posted on Jul. 24, 2017 ( comments)

What’s the best way to grow physicians who can relate to a community? Train them in those communities.

MultiCare Health System’s Graduate Medical Education (GME) program has been supporting medical education for more than 30 years and has grown to oversee around 60 positions in communities across the South Sound

“Each of the programs recruit residents who match their individual missions,” says Bill Kriegsman, MD, director of MultiCare’s GME program. “For example, Tacoma Family Medicine looks for medical students who have lived or had experience in underserved communities. East Pierce Family Medicine looks more for medical students with ties to the South Puget Sound area. In both cases, they have reputations of drawing smart, energetic applicants who have the potential to become wonderful physicians.”

Tacoma Family Medicine teaches family medicine for full-spectrum care to communities in need. There are currently 24 residents, mostly based at Tacoma General and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. There are also five rural family medicine fellows, a one-year program designed for physicians who plan to work in a rural setting.

East Pierce Family Medicine is based at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup and has 18 residents. This program is dually accredited by both the American Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) – meaning that residents are trained through both allopathic and osteopathic pathways while working in a community-based, academic medical center.

At EPFM, a recently launched addiction medicine fellowship offers a comprehensive one-year training opportunity to family physicians and obstetricians passionate about providing high-quality integrated care to people with substance abuse and dependence.

Kriegsman notes that many of this year’s graduates are staying in the South Sound and rural practice.

“It’s a really good place: it’s near a metro area but it has a rural aspect,” says Clifton Cassidy, DO, a recent graduate of the East Pierce Family Medicine residency, who is staying on with MultiCare and joining one of the system’s Indigo Urgent Care clinics. “You get to practice in urban, suburban and rural environments.”

Passing it on

Qualified physicians within the system volunteer to serve as preceptors in the program, teaching and training their younger counterparts. Nancy Pang, MD, a physician at Auburn Family Medicine, has served as a preceptor for several different types of students who shadow her in the clinic.

“It’s nice to pass on that knowledge. We all went through residency. We try to teach them the things that are most important,” Dr. Pang says. She added that clinical experiences help students because they have to get beyond the science of medicine to learn the “art” of care, for example, communicating with patients and picking up on cues that help them make the correct diagnosis.

She appreciates the great job the GME program has done in creating placements for students. “They set it all up, and all I have to do is focus on teaching,” she says.

“Without the physician preceptors, this program wouldn’t be possible,” says GME administrator Susan Campanelli. “We really have to show them our gratitude in passing down their skills to the newer generations.”

Serving the region

One distinct attribute of MultiCare’s GME program is that it isn’t affiliated with a specific medical school. Residents and fellows come from all over, and, according to Campanelli, the process for selection to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-certified program is “very competitive.” In fact, 108 interviews were held for the eight available positions at TFM this year alone.

The Puyallup Takopid Family Medicine residency is affiliated with Tacoma General Hospital and is the first osteopathic family medicine residency in the country to have a Native American focus. There are also 18 Community Health Care residents, mostly working at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Mary Bridge.

Outside of Pierce county, MultiCare supports additional residents at HealthPoint in Auburn, St. Peters in Olympia and Valley Family Medicine in Renton.

“MultiCare is looking to the future by supporting our residents and fellows,” Dr. Kriegsman says. “We see these physicians as an important part of the solution to our need for more primary care physicians.” 

About The Author

Mark Swart

Mark Swart joined MultiCare Health System after retiring from Army Public Affairs at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wa. He has extensive storytelling and communications experience from operations around the globe. Mark enjoys being active outdoors, whether it is running, sailing, motorcycling or even working in his yard.

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