KENNEWICK, Wash.-- Hospitals in the Tri-Cities continue to expand their reach. Now, they're looking to attract new medical school students to the area to meet the increasing demand for doctors.
Kennewick General Hospital announced Monday that they're starting a residency program for medical students.
It's the first in the Tri-Cities and is just the beginning of more medical programs to come.
Medical residents are the future of health care and local hospitals want them to come here.
After four years of medical school, students must complete a three year residency.
Now, Kennewick General Hospital is setting up the first residency program in the region.
Doctors say residents not only make good future employees but they also improve patient care.
"It is always better patient care when you have residents and medical students in training in hospitals and it keeps physicians up to date and in touch with academic medicine," said Dr. Mahmoud Al-Hawamdeh, Kennewick General Hospital.
KGH hopes student doctors will stay here once they complete their education.
The demand for health care in the Tri-Cities is expanding and many doctors are retiring, which puts a strain on the system. Residencies could change that.
"Satisfy the needs in our community for more physicians and specialties and to train them locally," Al-Hawamdeh said.
"There is a need for primary care physicians and it's noted that, multiple times, two-thirds of them will stay in that area," said Amy Carrasco, Director of Education at Kadlec Regional Medical Center.
Kadlec Regional Medical Center works with medical students and is in talks with the University of Washington to start their own residency program in the near future.
"Many of the medical students that I've seen come through lately have all been from Eastern Washington. They want to come back and practice in our area. So we need to provide that opportunity and instead of sending them to Detroit to do their residency, they can come back to the Tri-Cities," Carrasco said.
The KGH residency program will start on July 1st.
They are partnering with Pacific Northwest University in Yakima for the program.
Doctors said they hope to expand the program to include more students in the future.