SANTA ROSA -- The residency program operated by Sutter Health in Sonoma County has been ranked as one of the top 10 family practice programs nationwide by U.S. News & World Report in conjunction with Doximity, an online social networking service for doctors,

The rankings were generated by reviews from more than 50,000 board-certified physicians who gave their input about the best residency programs within their specialties.

“The ranking is a result of hard work and dedication by many (and) reflects a history of excellence starting in the early 1900s," said Jeff Haney, M.D., program director.

Each year, the family residency program accepts 12 of the top medical school graduates throughout the world.

“There are about 1,200 open slots in the country each year,” said Mike Purvis, chief administrative officer for Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa. “We get about 600 applications for our 12 openings.”

After their three years of training here, many of these new family doctors make Sonoma County their home. According to Sutter Health, about half of the family physicians in Sonoma County today are graduates of this premier program. The high caliber of medical care found in the area, Mr. Purvis added, is yet another important way in which Sutter Health impacts Sonoma.

The hospital's family medicine residency program began in 1938 at the old county hospital. Then,  in 1969, it became affiliated with the University of California San Francisco, Medical School.