Kaweah Delta and USC sign affiliation agreement

Agreement will provide USC medical students with training in rural populations and may help bring more doctors to the area

The Sun-Gazette

VISALIA – In an effort to expose medical students to more rural and underserved patient populations, and to attract more doctors to the area, Kaweah Delta’s medical education programs are now affiliated with the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. Kaweah Delta Health Care District remains an independent publicly-owned organization.

Through the affiliation, Kaweah Delta becomes one of a handful of sites where USC medical students can choose to complete a four-week rotation as part of their required curriculum. The agreement allows for up to six USC medical students – two in obstetrics and gynecology, two in family medicine, and two in psychiatry – to rotate at Kaweah Delta at any given time. Additional specialties are expected to be added over time. As part of the affiliation, physician faculty members of Kaweah Delta’s residency programs will receive volunteer clinical faculty appointments at USC.

“We are very excited about this new affiliation with Kaweah Delta and the opportunity it will provide our students to work with patients from a rural, agricultural area,” Keck School of Medicine dean Dr. Laura Mosqueda said. “By experiencing first-hand the issues these patients face, our students can discover the value of serving as their advocates as well as their health care providers, in addressing those issues.”

For Kaweah Delta, the affiliation serves as a pipeline to attract high quality medical students to Visalia, who may choose to apply to one of Kaweah Delta’s existing residency programs. Kaweah Delta has accredited residency programs in anesthesiology, emergency medicine, family medicine, psychiatry, general surgery, and transitional year. Each year, thousands of candidates apply for just 47 annual intern positions in Kaweah Delta’s six residency programs. Kaweah Delta has a total of 120 residents in various stages of training.

“Our hope is that they will see what we have to offer at Kaweah Delta and fall in love,” Kaweah Delta VP of medical education Dr. Lori Winston said. “Bringing these medical students here is a chance to expose them to patients they wouldn’t normally see in downtown L.A. We hope they will ultimately apply for a residency program here and then stay to practice medicine in the Valley.”

One aspect of the Kaweah Delta rotation that caught the attention of USC, was its emerging Street Medicine Program, led by Omar Guzman, M.D. Kaweah Delta Street medicine is centered around meeting people with housing insecurities where they live, to provide them with health and social services. Dr. Guzman also supervises medical students at the Samaritan Center, which provides free medical services for the working poor and uninsured of Tulare County, and at a local warming center.

“This is an appealing rotation because a medical student will have many more opportunities to directly provide patient care to rural and underserved patients,” said Dr. Winston, noting that Kaweah Delta is just one of several affiliated sites where medical students can provide direct patient care. “When medical students hear about those opportunities, their eyes just light up.”

Another plus for medical students opting for a Kaweah Delta rotation is the development of student residential facilities in downtown Visalia within close proximity to Kaweah Delta Medical Center, Winston said. “It’s a safe, secure and convenient place for them to live.”

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