WSU pediatric residency welcomes first cohort of doctors

Spokane doctors talk to a mother and child in an exam room.
Six new doctors will begin their pediatrics training in Spokane this summer, helping to fill a critical need for more pediatricians in eastern Washington.

The Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine’s new pediatric residency program is welcoming its inaugural class of resident physicians.

Six new doctors will join the Spokane medical community this summer as pediatricians in training, taking the next step toward becoming independently practicing physicians.  

Established last year in partnership with Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, the pediatric residency is the first of its kind east of the Cascades in Washington and is one of three WSU College of Medicine residency programs.

“The purpose of the program is to build really good general pediatricians and to improve the care of children in the Inland Northwest,” said Program Director Christian Rocholl, MD.

Medical students in their final year of study are paired with residencies through the National Resident Matching Program each year on Match Day, the third Friday of March. Of the six students who matched with WSU’s pediatric residency, three are from a Washington medical school, including one from the WSU College of Medicine.

“WSU and Providence are eager to welcome these physicians to our community, and we are grateful to our partners who share our vision and have helped make today a reality with their generous support,” said Susan Stacey, chief executive at Providence Inland Northwest.

Eastern Washington has just half as many pediatricians per capita as western Washington. The more rural east side of the state has an average of 42.6 board-certified pediatricians per 100,000 children compared to the urban west side’s 80.1, according to American Board of Pediatrics data.

“This new residency program will provide a much-needed pipeline to increase the number of pediatric specialists in eastern Washington,” said David Condon, vice president at Premera Blue Cross, which provided support for the program. “We commend the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and Providence for their leadership in developing this program and send our congratulations to the first class of residents for reaching this huge milestone.”

This new residency program will provide a much-needed pipeline to increase the number of pediatric specialists in eastern Washington.

David Condon, vice president
Premera Blue Cross

Residents are much more likely to practice as physicians where they complete their residencies. Having a pediatric residency in eastern Washington increases the chances of attracting pediatricians to the communities that need them most.

Lindsey Klein, Lara Khalil, Anh Pham, McKenna Smith, Parvin Uddin, and Noelia Torres will begin their training on July 1 at community hospitals and clinics in Spokane, spending most of their time at Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital and working at CHAS Health, Kaiser Permanente, MultiCare, and Shriners Children’s clinics.

The pediatric residency program was made possible through support from Premera Blue Cross, the Providence Inland Northwest Foundation, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and the local nonprofit Community Cancer Fund.

“Our mission at Community Cancer Fund is to deliver the best health care to patients in the Inland Northwest. This pediatric residency program will accomplish that,” said Patrick McLaughlin, Community Cancer Fund board member and a WSU graduate. “Many of the residents will stay here in Spokane to begin their medical practices, with a focus on treating pediatric cancer patients. That’s always been our goal and we are proud that it is now taking root.”

The residency received more than 500 applications for the six spots. When interviewing applicants, program leadership looked for those with ties to the Pacific Northwest who had demonstrated leadership, academic excellence, and a commitment to pediatrics.

The three-year training program will have 18 residents at a time once all cohorts are filled.

“The whole process was really rewarding,” Rocholl said. “You’re interviewing these people who are really energetic, really eager to work in pediatrics and to learn pediatrics. It is very rewarding to know that the future is in good hands.”

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