The Coachella Valley is vibrant, growing community. Like much of the country, however, the region faces a shortage of doctors.
Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs has paired with the University of California, Riverside, to address this need by welcoming its first class of primary care, family, and internal medicine residents on July 1.
Over the past 10 years, the hospital has served as a one-year neurology/neurosurgery rotation for Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. It now welcomes eight neurology and neurosurgery residents to the hospital for its own program.
Once the residencies end, the expectation is that up to 40 percent of the doctors will continue to practice in the area because of local ties and scholarship obligations, according to the doctors that run the residency programs at DRMC and Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.
“The program increases access to medical care for the community and addresses the shortage of trained physicians in the Coachella Valley and the country,” says Dr. Gemma Kim, the director of DRMC’s Family Medicine Residency Program.
In some areas of the valley, for example, the ratio is 1 physician to 9,000 patients. Each DRMC resident will see 1,000 patients, adding continuing care for a significant portion of previously unseen patients, Kim says.
Six faculty members already practice in the valley, and there is a new clinic across the street from DRMC where the residents will work. Eighty of DRMC’s board-certified physicians from all medical disciplines are on board as instructors to ensure residents receive a well-rounded education.
Along with clinic work, the residents will work in field outreach teams to see patients that cannot get to the Palm Springs facility, Kim says.
“We are extremely excited to have our first group of residents join us on our campus this summer,” says Carolyn Caldwell, president and chief executive officer of DRMC. “In collaboration with UCR, the Desert Healthcare District, and the physician leadership at our own Institute of Clinical Orthopedics & Neurosciences, we have advanced the state of medicine in the Coachella Valley by leaps and bounds. We are meeting the needs of our community for primary care physicians, and now for the advanced treatment of stroke and other disorders of the brain. I really think our community should be incredibly proud of the state of medicine that they can access right here at home.”
As head of the neurology and neurosurgery residents program, Dr. Javed Siddiqi, medical director of the Institute of Clinical Orthopedics and Neurosciences, will welcome residents for training that will take up to seven years. “Instead of training Arrowhead’s residents, now we’ll be training doctors for our own program,” Siddiqi says.
The residency program at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage is now in its third year and is about to graduate its first class, says Dr. Joseph Scherger, the vice president of primary care and the Marie E. Pinizzotto, M.D., chair of academic affairs.
“For Eisenhower, becoming a teaching hospital has meant increasing the quality of care for our patients,” Scherger says. “These residents are well-supervised and this program is a win-win for the patients and the hospital.”