Residency programs growing in the Central Valley

(Kenny Goodman)

Adventist Health is expanding its residency program to Tulare in an attempt to fight the shortage of physicians in California

TULARE – In an attempt to quell the overwhelming physician crisis in Tulare County Adventist Health is taking a homegrown approach to residency for new doctors.

Adventist Health in Tulare was approved to launch an internal medicine three-year residency program. The program will start by training four residents in the first year, and then train up to 12 residents by the third year. This is in addition to the current Family Medicine Residency Programs in Hanford, Tulare and Sonora.

“We are pleased to receive this approval and know that it is just one step in the process of bringing more primary care to our rural communities,” Raul Ayala, MD, MHCH, Adventist Health’s ambulatory medical officer said.

Waiting a long time to see a doctor is frustrating at best and life-threatening at worst. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon right now considering the U.S. is facing a growing physician shortage. The Association of American Medical Colleges projects there will be a shortage of 48,000 primary care physicians by 2034.

According to a report from The Future Health Workforce Commission, the federal government’s council on graduate medical education recommends 60 to 80 primary care doctors per 100,000 people. California is already down to 50 physicians per 100,000 residents statewide. In some places, it is even lower such as the San Joaquin Valley which is down to 39 physicians per 100,000 residents.

Adventist Health has been training physicians through its primary care residency programs for years.

“In a 2022 report, the council noted their focus on developing a health professional education system that increases rural health workforce capacity,” Ayala said.

In total, Adventist Health hospitals offer nine physician residency programs (family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics & gynecology and podiatry) as well as two pharmacy residency programs in communities such as Glendale, Hanford, Sonora, Tulare, Ukiah Valley and White Memorial in Los Angeles.

Adventist Health is not the only hospital in the Valley that offers a residency program. Kaweah Health has been fighting the shortage as well. In 2021, Kaweah Health welcomed a new batch of resident physicians to its classrooms and medical center. Resident physicians have earned medical (M.D. or D.O.) degrees after four years in medical school. They are then in residency training at Kaweah Health for an additional three to five years to complete their special education and become board certified in their chosen field.

“We’re thrilled to continue to build this legacy of Kaweah Health as a teaching hospital,” Dr. Lori Winston, vice president of medical education at Kaweah Health, said in an interview with The Sun-Gazette in 2021.

For more information about Adventist Health’s residency programs, visit

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