UCR Medical School to Launch New Residency Training Program in Family Medicine in Coachella Valley June 22

Eight new residents comprise the first cohort in a partnership between the UCR School of Medicine, Desert Regional Medical Center and Desert Healthcare District

Desert Regional Medical Center

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – The new family medicine training program of the UC Riverside School of Medicine will welcome its first eight resident physicians on Monday, June 22, the result of a multi-year effort to expand the primary care physician workforce in the Coachella Valley.

A partnership between the UCR School of Medicine, Desert Regional Medical Center and the Desert Healthcare District has made the new residency training program a reality. The three-year program will enroll eight residents each year, meaning there will be a total of 24 residents when the family medicine program is fully developed. Eight family physicians will graduate from the residency program each year starting in 2018.

Family medicine is a primary care medical specialty in which physicians provide comprehensive medical care to patients of all ages and, increasingly, coordinate patients’ care by subspecialists. It is estimated that the area of the Coachella Valley served by Desert Regional Medical Center has a 50 percent shortage of family medicine physicians.

Residency programs provide the post-M.D. training required for physicians to become fully independent and board certified in their specialties. During residency training, resident physicians provide patient care under the supervision of attending physicians who are faculty of the residency program.

Gemma Kim, MD

Gemma Kim, MD

“Family medicine is essential in addressing the healthcare needs of both our region and nation,” said Dr. Gemma Kim, program director of the medical school’s family medicine training program in Palm Springs. “This program will expand access to primary care in the Coachella Valley while providing personalized care of the highest quality that is patient-, family- and community-centered.”

Residents will train primarily in the family medicine center jointly operated by UCR Health, the medical school’s clinical enterprise, and First Choice Physician Partners and at Desert Regional Medical Center. Additional training sites are expected to be Riverside County clinics, Borrego Community Health Foundation clinics and the Desert AIDS Project.

Expanding residency training programs is a key strategy of the UCR School of Medicine to address the severe physician shortage in Inland Southern California, according to Dr. G. Richard Olds, vice chancellor for health affairs at UCR and dean of the School of Medicine. “It takes more than building a medical school to expand and diversify our region’s physician workforce. We have to establish new residency training programs to capitalize on the strong propensity for physicians to practice in the geographic area where they complete their residency training,” Olds said.

One of the distinctive aspects of the Palm Springs family medicine program is the state-of-the-art outpatient family medicine center located across Tachevah Drive from Desert Regional Medical Center. The 13,000-square-foot facility features more than 20 exam rooms, two procedure rooms, a triage room and a group counseling room. The second floor is equipped with desk space for residents, as well as videoconferencing space and technology.

Another distinguishing feature of the program will be its focus on community medicine. For example, under development is a backpack medicine program where multi-disciplinary teams – including a faculty physician, resident physician, nurse and social worker – travel by foot to deliver medical care for vulnerable populations, including homeless individuals and migrant farm workers.

“We want to imbue our family medicine residents with a strong sense of social responsibility and service to the community,” Kim said.

The UCR Family Medicine Residency Program in Palm Springs received its accreditation in January 2014 from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the national body responsible for post-M.D. training programs in the U.S. “The Coachella Valley has a demonstrated severe shortage of primary care physicians, so beginning this training program there was a high priority for the UCR medical school,” said Dr. Mahendr S. Kochar, associate dean for graduate medical education.

A special welcome reception for the new residents will be held from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 24, in the Stergios Building on the campus of Desert Regional Medical Center, 1140 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. For information on this event, call Linda Stevens at (760) 323-6187.

The UCR School of Medicine, which enrolled its first 50 medical students in August 2013, has as its mission expanding and diversifying the Inland Southern California physician workforce and developing research and healthcare delivery programs that improve the health of medically underserved populations. It also sponsors a second family medicine residency training program at Riverside County Regional Medical Center, as well as programs in internal medicine, general surgery and psychiatry. It also trains residents in a primary care pediatrics residency “track” in partnership with Loma Linda University.

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