September 11, 2019

Training doctors for the 21st century

With a history of graduate medical education dating back 75 years, Kaiser Permanente trains skillful, compassionate, and engaged physicians.

“A medical care program worthy of perpetuation, in addition to being economically sound, must provide teaching, training, and research, all so necessary for the maintenance of high-quality care.”

Kaiser Permanente co-founder Sidney Garfield, MD

These words from Kaiser Permanente co-founder Sidney Garfield, MD, spoken in 1945, capture the commitment to education that has defined the organization from the beginning.

Kaiser Permanente launched its first internal medicine residency program in Oakland, California, in 1944. Seventy-five years later, the scope of graduate medical education has grown dramatically.

The organization offers more than 60 residency and fellowship programs in Northern and Southern California alone. Kaiser Permanente Washington is home to one of the nation’s first family medicine residency programs, and in 2014, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii launched an internal medicine residency program to address a physician shortage on the Islands.

In all, Kaiser Permanente trains more than 600 new physicians in its residency and fellowship programs each year, with thousands of additional residents and medical students from affiliated programs completing a portion of their training with us. 

A model for the future of health

In 2020, Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic States will become the latest region to offer graduate medical education with the launch of an internal medicine residency program in partnership with Holy Cross Health.

“Our mission is to train highly competent and compassionate physicians to practice medicine in a patient-centered, integrated health system serving a diverse population,” said program director Julie Chen, MD. “That’s what we do at Kaiser Permanente, and we see it as a model for the future of health care.”

While most internal medicine residencies are focused on hospital care, with residents spending 70% or more of their time in an inpatient setting, the Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic States internal medicine residency program is focused on primary care. “We will provide a 50-50 split between inpatient and outpatient training experiences,” Dr. Chen explained.

True immersion produces better doctors and healthier communities

As an integrated health care system with a large and diverse membership, Kaiser Permanente offers residents the opportunity to become immersed in all aspects of patient care.

“Our residents work hand in hand with their attending physicians — they don’t need to make an appointment to meet with them,” said J. Craig Collins, MD, MBA, regional assistant medical director for graduate medical education at Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “That’s often not the case at traditional university-based programs, where residents may only interact with faculty at certain times and can miss out on important experiences.”

A commitment to community health is another defining feature of our residency programs. Through partnerships with public hospitals and community safety-net clinics, residents learn to care for underserved and vulnerable populations. A new Northern California initiative focuses on using mobile health clinics to improve access to care for homeless people.

After graduation, Kaiser Permanente residents pursue a wide a range of opportunities both within and outside the organization.

“We don’t hire all of our residents — we wouldn’t want to,” said Theresa Azevedo, associate director of graduate medical education at Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “Our goal is to create healthier communities by spreading our brand of medicine across the country.”

Learn more about graduate medical education at Kaiser Permanente

The opening of the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine in 2020 is the latest milestone in a rich history of medical education at Kaiser Permanente. Learn more.