Pullman Regional Hospital is aiming to train medical residents in rural family medicine via the Spokane Teaching Health Center, which is a partnership among Washington State University, Providence and the Empire Health Foundation.
Under the partnership, residents will spend their first year in Spokane, and then their second and third years in Pullman, with the first two residents starting full-time training on the Palouse by mid-2020. When all the spots are full, the critical access hospital will have a total of four residents, with two in their second year and two in their third.
"One of the things that becomes critically important for relatively rural communities is maintaining providers," says Dr. Gerald Early, chief medical innovation officer for Pullman Regional. "Being part of a residency program with a rural training track allows young physicians in the process of completing their training to get a taste for what it's like to live in a small community. A number of them will say, 'Hey, this works for me.'"
The Spokane Teaching Health Center has had a similar partnership with Colville since 1986, and almost 85 percent of the doctors who have trained through that program stayed in rural medicine in the immediate area, creating somewhat of a "pipeline" of rural doctors that the Pullman program will aim to replicate.
The Pullman program is part of a larger increase in medical residencies planned in partnership with Holy Family Hospital in Spokane and is currently awaiting accreditation so it can start accepting residents by mid-2019.