Pullman Regional Hospital will welcome its first residents in the Washington State University Family Medicine Residency Program in summer 2022.

It is a three-year residency training program, according to a WSU news release officially announcing the program’s accreditation. PRH will welcome three new residents per year.

PRH CEO Scott Adams told the Daily News a residency cannot legally function without first being accredited. It received accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education

During Friday’s WSU Board of Regents meeting, Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine Dean John Tomkowiak said the program will be just the second of its kind based in a critical access hospital.

Critical access hospitals have 25 or fewer acute care beds and serve rural communities with essential health care services, WSU stated in its announcement.

Residency, also known as graduate medical education, is the three- to seven-year phase of medical education following graduation from medical school that prepares physicians for independent practice in a medical specialty.

Adams told the Daily News the residents will be actively working with patients as soon as they start their residency, including in the emergency room. He said they will be under close supervision by doctors at least until their final year.

Adams said statistics show that physicians are more likely to locate their practice in the place they were trained. WSU and PRH hope the residency program will lead to more doctors continuing their careers in Pullman and the surrounding region.

Jeff Elbracht, president of the PRH Board of Commissioners, said a residency like this is important because there is a shortage of physicians nationwide and it is especially difficult to recruit them to rural areas like Pullman.

He said it will improve the area’s overall health care, which is “only as great as the physicians we have in the community.”

Adams said the residency program will not only benefit the trainees, but the doctors supervising them as well. He said training residents will sharpen the skills and knowledge of the doctors and provide them an opportunity to give back to the medical community.

“It has a variety of positive impacts,” Adams said.

The hospital is planning to construct a residency primary care clinic where residents will train with physicians. Adams said the hospital will go out to bid in August and he hopes to start construction in October.

Dr. Stephen Hall, a family medicine physician for more than 30 years, will serve as the program director leading operations, recruitment and education for the residency program.

Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.

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