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SANTA ROSA -- The Family Medicine Residency Program at Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa announced its incoming class of 2015, selecting 12 medical school graduates out of 618 applicants -- about half of the nation's 1,200 plus applicants in family medicine.

The three-year program, one of 450 family medicine training programs in the United States, is affiliated with the UCSF School of Medicine and has trained hundreds of family physicians since its inception in 1938.

And it's become an increasingly vital asset to the region's health care landscape, as the county, the state and much of the nation confronts a persistent and emerging shortage of primary care physicians.

The county faces a shortage of up to 200 physicians over the next 10 years,  according to a study commissioned by the Sonoma County Department of Health Services and the Sonoma County Medical Association. The study said the county has some 350 primary care physicians, which is better than the ideal range of 60 to 80 doctors per 100,000 residents. Still, an estimated 22 percent of the county’s primary care physicians are expected to retire and another 6 to 8 percent plan on leaving the area.

In addition the shortage, the nature of primary care has changed dramatically, with more and more physicians joining larger, more coordinated systems versus running a private practice.

“Health care is changing in this country and the old models of family medicine, where a physician sits in the office and waits for patients to come to them, are out-dated. In our recruiting, we have positioned ourselves as one of the innovators in the world of family medicine education,” said Jeff Haney, residency program director.

The residency program has been the largest single source of family physicians to Sonoma County for over 70 years, with graduates comprising nearly half of family physicians in Sonoma County -- from private practices, federally qualified health centers, public health and large medical groups.

In recent years, Sutter has enlisted the help of both the Santa Rosa Community Health Centers and Kaiser Permanante, which recently announced it, too, would launch a family residency program that trains six physicians per year in Sonoma County. The two programs combined will graduate 18 physicians per year while training a total of 42 per year. Similarly, Santa Rosa Community Health Centers obtained a grant to begin a nurse practitioner residency program as a means of training more primary care providers, not just physicians, for the region.

Dr. Haney said the program is poised to foster innovation among the county's physician workforce, in turn creating a more integrated and a better local health care system.

“We have emphasized the development of leadership skills and innovation in the course of residency training and have actively recruited students who want to lead in creating new models of primary care that make patient-centered medical homes a reality across the socioeconomic spectrum," he said.  "From our recruiting results this year, we believe we have been very successful. We, the faculty, look forward with great eagerness to working with these physicians to build a better health care system.”

The incoming residents are:

[caption id="attachment_57027" align="alignleft" width="180"] Nicole Cory Baltrushes[/caption]

Nicole Cory Baltrushes, M.D. University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.  After college in Berkeley she headed to the Midwest where her interests in community building dug her deep into the Chicago veteran community. Her interests in global medical education, on the other hand, drew her from Chicago to the Kuna Yala, Panama to China and back again. She grew up near the Santa Monica Mountains. In her free time she tours as the fiddler in a folk-punk band. 

[caption id="attachment_56962" align="alignright" width="180"] Anna L. Chollet, M.D., M.P.H.[/caption]

Anna L. Chollet, M.D., M.P.H. Tulane University School of Medicine. The St. Louis native attended Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, where she studied chemistry and worked on the college’s farm. After a year as assistant teacher in a bilingual preschool, she moved to  New Orleans to pursue her MD/MPH at Tulane University. She also traveled to Malaysia to finish her MPH in international health and development. Her clinical interests include comprehensive family medicine, women’s reproductive health, global health, and under-served medicine.

[caption id="attachment_56963" align="alignleft" width="180"] MaryAnn Dakkak, M.D., M.S.P.H.[/caption]

MaryAnn Dakkak, M.D., M.S.P.H., University of California, San Francisco. The California native obtained her MSPH in population and international health at Harvard School of Public Health, which led to field experience in many countries, most notably with Konbit Sante and Partners in Health in Haiti and with Catholic Relief Services in Chad. Eventually she came back to medicine and California. She has worked globally in women's health, refugee health, and monitoring and evaluation. Locally she has worked in homeless healthcare in San Francisco and curriculum development in global health topics at Harvard, MIT and UCSF.

[caption id="attachment_56964" align="alignright" width="180"] Tyler C. R. Gray, M.D.[/caption]

Tyler C. R. Gray, M.D., Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The Massachusetts native first studied at Williams College. His time at Columbia was interrupted for a year in the Dominican Republic, where he led an HIV education and testing outreach program for Haitian migrant workers. He is  interested in community health and wellness, obesity, health care reform, palliative care, and alternative medicine.

[caption id="attachment_56965" align="alignleft" width="180"] Karl Greer, M.D.[/caption]

Karl Greer M.D., University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The Texas native spend his childhood in Madagascar. He said his passions for nutrition, sunlight, and movement might actually be of use as a family doctor. Professional interests include integrative medicine, behavioral health, rural medicine and disrupting the world supply of sweetened beverages.

[caption id="attachment_56966" align="alignright" width="180"] Sara Junker, M.D.[/caption]

Sarah Junker, M.D., University of Colorado School of Medicine. The New Jersey native attended Scripps College in California, where a degree in mathematical economics steered her towards internships in Prague and Cairo. After experiencing the machinations of Washington DC's economy post-grad, she wanted to work more directly with the under-served. She worked in Tanzania with an HIV organization and clinic.

[caption id="attachment_56967" align="alignleft" width="180"] Molly Kirkconnell, M.D.[/caption]

Molly Kirkconnell, M.D., University of California, Davis. She grew up in Arkansas and studied biology and Spanish at the University of Missouri. She coordinated literacy programs as an Americorps VISTA in San Diego, worked in a homeless employment program in Oakland, and supported a free classical music concert series in San Francisco before beginning medical school. She also studied in Mexico, taught English in Chile and Ecuador, conducted botany research in Brazil, learned about health care in Nicaragua and hitch-hiked in Alaska. She is interested in health policy and advocacy, practicing integrative medicine, and the doctor-patient relationship.

[caption id="attachment_56968" align="alignright" width="180"] Amy Marietta, M.D., M.P.H.[/caption]

Amy Marietta, M.D., M.P.H., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. The Southern Illinios native attended  Stanford University, then worked for an affordable housing organization in Chile, and tried medical interpreting and grant writing for a Latino clinic in Washington, D.C., before going to medical school. While at UNC, she did clinical rotations in the rural western part of the state, taught yoga classes in Spanish, and relished the charm of the South. Her clinical interests in Latino health, reproductive rights, community-based primary care, and curriculum development.

[caption id="attachment_56969" align="alignleft" width="179"] Ron Romero, M.D.[/caption]

Ron Romero, M.D., University of Michigan Medical School. He was born in Bogota, Colombia, but grew up in a primarily Spanish speaking community in Miami. He attended Harvard College and after graduating worked in law and public finance, before discovering his calling while working as a medical assistant at a community health clinic in Berkeley. He is interested in integrative medicine, nutrition, mental health, and women's health.

[caption id="attachment_56970" align="alignright" width="180"] M. Jasmine Silva, D.O.[/caption]

M. Jasmine Silva, D.O., Western University, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. The Northern California native  studied philosophy and community studies, with an emphasis in domestic violence and the law, at UC, Santa Cruz. She also studied Italian and art history while living in Florence, worked as a domestic violence and sexual assault counselor, a legislative advocate, a public school teacher, a geriatric social worker and a professional vocalist. In medical school she was awarded a fellowship, which allowed her to spend an additional year studying osteopathic manual therapy and teaching it to first and second year medical students. Her interest in community service and empowerment through education and accessible health care led her to seek a career in family medicine. She hopes to integrate holistic care with OMT in a general practice that also emphasizes pain management and women's preventative health.

[caption id="attachment_56971" align="alignleft" width="180"] Noreen Singh, M.D.[/caption]

Noreen Singh, M.D., Yale University School of Medicine. The Bay Area native studied French literature and Biology at UCLA. She then moved to New Haven for medical school.  She traveled through Peru, Oaxaca, and Argentina during a hiatus, which resulted in her great interest in integrative medicine and cross-cultural healing modalities, palliative care, narrative medicine, global health.

[caption id="attachment_56972" align="alignright" width="185"] Arlene Vazquez, M.D.[/caption]

Arlene V. Vazquez, M.D., University of California, San Francisco. The Santa Cruz native moved to rural Wisconsin after high school for her  undergraduate degree. There, she volunteered teaching ESL classes and as a translator at an elementary school. After graduation she spent six months in Southern France, then returned home to work on art, music and tutoring high school students, before starting medical school. She is most interested in social justice and working with under-served populations, particularly women and children.