Planting the Seeds
In 2013, Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) took an important step in securing future healthcare coverage in our region by starting a Family & Community Medicine Residency Program, a three year training program for recently-graduated primary care physicians. At that time, Yuma County was designated a Health Provider Shortage Area and YRMC identified more than 50% of Yuma providers were over age 55 and planning for retirement. Nation-wide statistics were projecting a shortage of family medicine doctors, a fate that would greatly effect a more rural, hard to recruit area, like Yuma. In ten years, YRMC’s Family & Community Residency Program has gone beyond impacting patient care and appointment wait times. The program has sparked a new light in our hospital and our community, garnering awards and recognition worldwide. As we look back, we reflect on the success of this program and explore what a physician training program means for the future of Yuma.
Rooted in Community
The word “community” was purposefully included in YRMC’s Family & Community Medicine Residency Program title. This is because community is at the core of our program and influences every decision we make. It’s what sets YRMC’s residency program apart from programs across the country, and it’s often times cited as the reason physician residents choose Yuma. It goes beyond the fact Yuma is a great place to call home. YRMC’s Family & Community Residency Program was designed for our community, residents are active in community wellness events, and in doing so, residents become a part of our community, often times choosing to continue practicing in Yuma following their three-year training. Led by Kristina Diaz, M.D., a Yuma native, YRMC residents don’t just learn about community, they live it.
In 2019, residents volunteered approximately 1,500 hours in the Yuma community. Outreach included: Teddy Bear Clinics for kids, sports physicals, attending Gila Ridge football games for on-field medical support and YRMC’s Mentor Me MD program.
Fifty-one residents have graduated from YRMC’s program with 100% pass rate on the American Board of Family Physicians exam. Fifteen or 29% of graduated residents have chosen to stay in Yuma, including:
- Natalia Galarza, M.D., 2016
- Nada Alsaiegh, M.D., 2017
- Navaneeth Kumar, M.D., 2017
- Jose Vega III, M.D., 2017
- Adil M. Baig, M.D., 2018
- Martha Alemayehu, D.O., 2019
- Tomasz Fudalewski, M.D., 2020
- Alfonso Tellez, II, M.D., 2020
- Matthew Bishop, M.D., 2022
- Palak Satija, M.D., 2022
- Michael McCullagh, M.D., 2023
- Stephanie Clark, M.D., 2023
Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)
WONCA Accreditation – World Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians
What began as a solution to an impending physician shortage has resulted in a top rated residency program, where high quality experience and education is proving to attract high quality applicants. YRMC’s Family & Community Medicine Residency Program, on average, receives 2,000 applications annually for eight designated resident spots, a testament to the program’s success and caliber. The 24 residents who train in Yuma over a three year period currently see 30,000 patient visits a year, gaining valuable experience while filling a great need for primary care in our area. As we look to the future, we are reminded that YRMC’s residency program offers more than education – it gives eight new individuals a year the opportunity to become an integral part of this community. We are grateful for the residents who chose Yuma, for the providers and leaders who make YRMC’s residency program a possibility and for our patients who give our residents the opportunity to learn and serve as neighbors caring neighbors.