Ken Carlson

Local medical residencies are interviewing candidates

Candidates for the orthopedic surgery residency at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto enjoyed salmon and pork shanks at Dewz restaurant on Thursday and then listened to talks about the surgical training.
Candidates for the orthopedic surgery residency at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto enjoyed salmon and pork shanks at Dewz restaurant on Thursday and then listened to talks about the surgical training. Doctors Medical Center

With all of the people enrolling in insurance and Medi-Cal through health care reform, it seems that local hospitals and clinics could use more doctors.

At this time of year, we see a lot of medical school graduates in town to compete for training opportunities with the Valley Consortium for Medical Education. The consortium has an orthopedic surgery residency, teaching skills such as joint replacement and elbow surgery, and a family medicine residency with a long tradition of treating the underserved in Stanislaus County.

Doctors Medical Center received 156 applications for two slots in its five-year orthopedic residency program that open in July. The consortium chose 22 applicants for interviews held Thursday and Friday.

After Thursday’s interviews, applicants were treated to dinner at Dewz restaurant in downtown Modesto, where they listened to talks about residency training.

When the new residents start in July, the program will have eight surgeons-in-training. It will grow to 10 the following year.

Almost 600 applied for the family medicine residency program, and more than 100 were chosen for interviews that began Wednesday. Program leaders will talk with six applicants each day as interviews are held through Jan. 16.

Primary care training will begin in July for 10 first-year residents in the three-year program, which has 34 residents.

Program coordinator Madelaine Riel said the graduates who come to town book hotel rooms or may stay with people they know here. Program leaders evaluate the candidates for knowledge and the right personality for working in county health clinics.

“Family medicine does cradle-to-grave care, and we want to make sure our residents are interested in underserved patients and serving the Valley population,” Riel said.

Stanislaus County’s large Medi-Cal roll grew by 43,000 people in the past year, thanks to the expanded income eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.

President Barack Obama’s plan to halt deportation of some undocumented immigrants will effectively expand health program coverage for hundreds of thousands in California, said Anthony Wright, a leading health advocate in the state.

Riel said the family-practice residents certainly will have contact with the larger patient population. They are required to see at least 1,650 patients by the end of the three years.

Both of the residency programs encourage their residents to practice medicine in the county after they finish training.

Last April, an orthopedic resident said the community-based program provided more opportunity to work with patients. He said the volume of patients per resident is much higher here than at residencies based at academic medical centers.

As the patient-to-doctor ratio continues to grow with each new enrollment, it’s not possible to make the residents work more hours. Their training is limited to 80 hours per week.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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