Alaska Family Medicine Residency program celebrates 20 years

Published: Jun. 6, 2017 at 5:28 PM AKDT
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The Alaska Family Medicine Residency program that helps prepare doctors to work in the state, particularly in rural Alaska celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

Since the program began, a total of 177 residents have graduated and are now practicing across the United States.

77 percent of them stay in Alaska.

The goal of the three-year program, which operates on a Providence Hospital facility, helps residents prepare to serve in rural communities and under-served patients.

Alaska was the last state in the U.S. to have a residency program.

Dr. Anne Musser, DO, the program director, said the idea is to retain more doctors.

"At first, I think the reason it was so successful was because our residents were training in those areas and so they got comfortable, they learned to love the communities they were practicing in and went back to practice in those communities," Dr. Musser said. "Now we attract people who specifically want to work in rural areas or under served areas."

After graduation, physicians will provide a range of services from delivering babies, treating children, infectious illnesses and treating elderly patients.

The class of 2017 will have 11 graduates on June 30th.

Ten will remain in Alaska and one will go to work in rural Colorado.