WSU’s first residency program graduates inaugural class of doctors

A resident and faculty member both reach toward the chest of a hospital patient with stethoscopes.
An internal medicine resident and faculty member with a patient (WSU College of Medicine photo).

A new residency program created by Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine in partnership with Everett’s Providence Regional Medical Center to train internal medicine physicians is graduating its first cohort of doctors.  

The 12 resident physicians will become attending physicians, qualified to practice medicine independently, in a June 8 ceremony that marks their completion of three years of training.

“This is a group of individuals who are very dedicated to the patients they serve and to making a difference in the community through advocacy and outreach work,” said Program Director Matthew Hansen, MD. “It’s been incredibly rewarding to see them grow over the last three years and to see the difference the program has made in the community.”

Residency plays an essential part in the process to become a licensed physician in the U.S. After obtaining a medical degree, doctors must complete additional training in their chosen specialty through a residency program and pass a national exam to become board certified in their specialty.

The Internal Medicine Residency Program welcomed its inaugural cohort in 2021 and now has a total of 40 resident physicians working their way through the three-year program. Residents work at hospitals and clinics in the Puget Sound area under the supervision of community physicians, gaining experience in a range of clinical care settings.

In its first three years, the program has brought more doctors to Washington communities and partnered with Providence Medical Group to launch a large primary care clinic that acts as a safety net for the Everett community. Program faculty and residents designed two specialty initiatives at the clinic to care for complex patients with heart failure and advanced liver disease, resulting in decreased emergency room visits and hospitalizations for these patients. Residents have also provided care beyond the clinic, practicing street medicine and treating people experiencing houselessness outside of typical hospital settings.

I really feel like our program puts the words of its mission into action, and I think that we’re seeing that with our first graduating class going into practice in rural areas of the Northwest.

Dr. Katie Buckman

“The commitment to serving the underserved is part of what brought me to this program specifically,” said current resident Adam Panzer, MD. “If anything, the experience has redoubled my commitment and joy in working with those populations.”

Most of the graduates plan to stay in the Pacific Northwest to practice medicine as hospitalists or primary care physicians. Others will become chief residents with the program, fulfilling a leadership role for an additional year, or pursue specialized training through fellowships or additional residencies.

“I really feel like our program puts the words of its mission into action, and I think that we’re seeing that with our first graduating class going into practice in rural areas of the Northwest,” said resident Katie Buckman, MD.

The first graduation ceremony also marks a major milestone for program faculty and administrators. They significantly expanded the program’s community partnerships, adding more than 10 new partners to its five main training sites since the program’s launch. New partners include the Everett VA Clinic, the Tulalip Health System serving the Tulalip Tribes, and Lahai Health, which serves low-income populations.

These partnerships support the WSU College of Medicine’s mission of improving access to care in underserved communities and are central to the college’s community-based model, where learners train at community hospitals and clinics rather than at a university-owned teaching hospital.

“This program holds so much potential for how it can further impact communities locally and throughout the state. I really can’t wait to see what happens in these upcoming years,” said Buckman.

The internal medicine residency is the first of the college’s three graduate medical education programs, in addition to the new Family Medicine Residency Program in Pullman and Pediatric Residency Program in Spokane.

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