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Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

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About Tacoma Family Medicine (TFM)

Resident Life


What are the mission, vision and values of TFM?

Mission: Our mission is “Teaching Family Medicine to provide full spectrum compassionate care for communities in need”

Vision: To be a national leader in family medicine education, a clinical model of a medical home, and a collaborator in Pierce County resident education.

Values: We are committed to provide full scope family medicine in a spirit of service.

What is the greatest strength of TFM?

People are the greatest strength of Tacoma Family Medicine. Check us out on Facebook

Who makes up the TFM Faculty?

Our core family medicine faculty boasts a wide variety of post-residency experience and years of teaching experience. All core faculty provide full scope outpatient and inpatient adult and pediatric care and obstetrics. We encourage interviewees to dialogue with the faculty and contact them by email.

We are unique, in having seven Obstetrician-Gynecologists as faculty, providing one of the most collegial family medicine/obstetric relationships available. Our OB/GYN teaching, labor management experience, and high risk prenatal clinic takes our OB experience way beyond “baby-catching”.

Our full-time Behavioral Scientist is a published authority on patient centered interviewing; our part time Pediatrician boasts urban underserved experience; our full-time Pharmacist is based in our clinic; and we have two Nurse Practitioners and a full time Social Worker—all to augment resident training/patient care.

In our building, we also have a psychiatrist who does consultations four days a week, and behavioral health counselors for our patients.

What is the residents' culture like?

Residents enjoy each other’s company and routinely spend time together outside of work. Often each class gets together weekly after Thursday afternoon didactics. In addition to an all-residency retreat, residents cover for each other to optionally allow each class to have their own retreat each year.

Where do TFM graduates practice?

Our graduates practice throughout the US and internationally. Since 1978 we have trained 223 residency graduates. 34% of those graduates practice in health care shortage areas with 25% practicing in rural communities. An updated map from the Graham center covers 145 graduates up to 2009 and is available at

Is TFM an important part of the community?

Yes! Tacoma has a sophisticated medical community that is supportive of resident education. Residents find willing local teachers in virtually all medical specialties who provide rich educational opportunities. Community voluntary faculty see you as “our resident.”

Who is the sponsor for TFM?

MultiCare Health System sponsors Tacoma Family Medicine. MultiCare is a not-for-profit, locally based health care organization that encompasses five hospitals and an extensive clinic network, with roots that go back to the founding of Tacoma’s first hospital in 1882. We are governed by a volunteer board of local community leaders.

What training opportunities are available at TFM?

  • University of Washington Affiliation: Tacoma Family Medicine is part of a collaborative network of ACGME accredited Family Medicine Residencies in the Northwest with more than 20 Family Medicine Residencies and encompassing five northwestern states: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. Each of our core faculty holds an appointment in the University of Washington Department of Family Medicine.
  • Unopposed: Family Medicine residencies are the only type of sponsored residencies at MultiCare, leading to an unopposed learning environment . TFM is the longest established Tacoma area family medicine residency program.
  • Pediatrics: Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital is a true children’s hospital with its own ED, Pediatric ICU, and Pediatric subspecialty services. Our residents on Pediatrics are supervised by the Pediatric Hospitalists, who provide excellent training for a core of “bread and butter” pediatric admissions, and our Pediatric ED rotations utilize fellowship-trained teachers.
  • Obstetrics: Our Inpatient Obstetrics service occurs in a regional maternal referral center with about 3,000 deliveries per year with a Level IV NICU. Our combined clinics in the 521 building provide prenatal care for 900 of these deliveries. Family Medicine residents and Family Medicine Rural fellows are the only postgraduates on labor and delivery.
  • Longitudinal ICU Training: Our Inpatient Medicine service is supervised by MultiCare internal medicine and pulmonary-critical care hospitalists who enjoy teaching and provide expert, practical medicine education. Under their supervision, residents routinely admit to the ICU and provide care for critically ill patients. Each week there are scheduled ICU teaching rounds.
  • Rural/Urban Curriculum: We have a scheduled opportunity for a one-month rotation away from our facility in each of the first two years to train for future rural or urban-underserved practice. A specific curriculum helps you review an underserved practice and perform a community assessment in order to prepare to choose wisely among future practice options.

How does TFM train residents for outpatient practice?

Residents rotate through three main modalities of care:

  1. TFM Specialty Clinics: procedural clinic assignments in Orthopedics/Sports Medicine, Colposcopy, Outpatient Procedures, and cognitive specialty clinics in Outpatient Pediatrics and Psychiatry.
  2. One-to-One Clinic Precepting: One-to-one precepting is a rich time of coaching in patient-centered interviewing and outpatient clinical practice with our behavioral scientist and our physician faculty.
  3. Practice Management and Outpatient Modules: A family medicine graduate will spend 90% of a typical week in the office. TFM devotes two weeks a year focused on common outpatient problems and processes, practice management, patient-centered medical home (PCMH) and health systems. Residents lead diabetic group visits, join our patient advisory council, and participate in our PCMH committee.

Residents are responsible for their own panel of patients. Clinic time increases during each year of training. R1s have 1-2 half day clinics per week, R2s have 2-3 half day clinics per week, and R3s have 4-5 half day clinics per week. During each half-day of clinic, interns see 4-6 patients, R2s see 7-8 patients, and R3s see 9-10 patients so that at the end of their training they are seeing 19 patients per day.

How does TFM train residents for inpatient services?

Interns on the family medicine and inpatient adult medicine services are expected to be primarily responsible for 5-6 patients. Interns on the inpatient pediatric service are expected to be primarily responsible for 8 patients. Senior residents are expected to know the entire panel and provide supervision, support, and teaching for interns. In addition, both interns and senior residents routinely work with medical students on all three services.

What is TFM's patient population? Do you work with the underserved?

Pierce County is the most ethnically diverse county in Washington State. We are an urban-underserved clinic with a large contingent of Medicaid/Medicare patients that incorporates diversity in race, language, social economics, ethnicity, physical and psychiatric disabilities, and patterns of pathology.

Is TFM a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH)?

No, but we are on our way. As of 2013, we are one of three MultiCare clinics selected as pilots to obtain NCQA certification and we have already incorporated many elements of the PCMH.

How is the call system structured?

Our duty-hour policies comply with the July 2011 ACGME rules. We use a night float system throughout the week and short call is Q4 for most inpatient rotations. Lighter call rotations include Q8 on average for interns on the internal medicine service and R2s taking senior call 2-3 times/month on outpatient rotations.

Our OB/Newborn service has its own call system on a Q4 noncompeting rotation that consists of two senior residents and two fellows. This allows continuity to an entire woman’s labor and delivery. R1s are paired with Fellows and released at 14 hours.

What OB volumes can residents expect?

Most residents leave TFM with more than 80 total deliveries over three years. Residents more interested in OB routinely leave with 100 or more deliveries. Our goal is that all graduates provide competent prenatal care, manage labor well, properly conduct a vaginal delivery and repair, and be a good first assistant at C-section. Proficiency in C-sections by graduation is a goal but we don't guarantee it.

Are there opportunities for international rotations?

Several of our faculty members have experience working in international settings. Third-year residents may request a one-month international rotation to be approved by the faculty. The purpose for international rotations should be congruent with career plans of the resident. The rotation must have an educational plan and goals; and needs an approved preceptor at the proposed site.

How are residents supported?

Tacoma Family Medicine has integrated structural support for the resident well-being. R1s receive a two-week initial orientation, and then weekly facilitated support group. Other supports include our night float call system, teaching panels with caps to maintain the education/service balance, collegial teams and our advisor system. We are sincere about having a climate of excellent education coupled with support.

How are residents evaluated?

Most of your education and growth will come from daily and weekly feedback. A clinical competence committee evaluates your progress semiannually, based on 360 feedback from preceptors/attendings, faculty, office staff/nurses, and patients. Your advisor acts as a guide and meets with you individually to help you plan your growth as a physician.

Does TFM have structured didactics?

Didactics occur on Thursday afternoons with an 18-month repeating topic cycle covering all areas of family medicine. All residents are expected to attend with the exception of the on-call team, or on mandated post call off time. When a fifth Thursday occurs in a month, we present afternoon procedure workshops with lectures, procedural workstations, and basic competency training.

We have many other structured opportunities for learning to include: ICU teaching rounds, and monthly psychiatry case conferences, radiology rounds, pediatric grand rounds, and teaching medical students.

Does TFM require a scholarly project?

Our third-year residents complete an academic project in evidence based scholarship, researching an evidence-based answer to a clinical question, which is mentored and organized by trained faculty. The results are presented in a local CME presentation and with expectations they will be submitted for publication.

Does TFM have electronic medical records?

MultiCare Health System uses the EPIC electronic health records system, making us one of the top four integrated health care delivery systems in the nation. Our office, ED, and inpatient services all use the same electronic record and it is accessible from both home and mobile devices.

How does fellowship affect the residents?

Our four Family Medicine Rural Fellows spend six months on OB and directly supervise R1s on OB. Senior residents a full members of a four person team with the Fellows in providing high risk prenatal care in OB Access Clinic (OBAC), providing NST/AFI clinic and running the OB labor deck. Supervision is provided by the OB Faculty.

Will emerging residencies negatively affect training opportunities?

No. The three emerging family medicine residencies in Tacoma (The Puyallup Tribal Health Authority, East Pierce Family Medicine, Community Health Care Residency), along with TFM, are collaborating to access our entire county for teaching resources. We are coordinating our efforts through the Pierce County Medical Society with the goal of having a nationally recognized consortium of high quality residencies in Pierce County.

Do residents enjoy the Tacoma area?

Tacoma is a little big town, with family oriented people, a reasonable cost of living, recently re-built public schools, and ready access to outdoor activities. Resident’s partners have easily been able to find jobs. There are waterfront biking and walking paths, kayaking trips, fantastic parks, and museums for you and your family to flourish in. We encourage you to balance your life with fun and family, as well as medicine.

Residents' Top Reasons Why They Love Living in Tacoma:

  1. Small city feel and affordability with big city amenities.
  2. Very little traffic with free parking on campus and easy bike commutes to work.
  3. 2.5 mile waterfront promenade makes a great place for a run or walk your dog with panoramic mountain views of Mount Rainier and Olympics.
  4. Immense city park (Point Defiance) has a beach, gardens, zoo, aquarium, trails and a five-mile “scenic drive” that makes a great bike ride.
  5. Great local restaurants and unique neighborhood pubs.
  6. Easy outdoor access: 1.5 hours to Mount Rainer, two hours to Eastern Olympics, one hour to Snoqualmie Pass, two hours to the Pacific Ocean. We are closer to Mount Rainier and the Olympic Peninsula than Seattle.
  7. Kayak rentals available on the waterfront.
  8. The Art Museum, Glass Museum and Washington State History museums are free on the 3rd Thursday. Children’s Museum is always free.
  9. More diversity than Seattle/King county, Short 45 minute drive/bus ride to Seattle for an easy night on the town.