Graduates' Perspectives

“Kaiser Permanente, as a residency and as a health system, immediately struck me as being unique. It was my first-choice program and not once have I wished to be anywhere else. In fact, in graduating, I’ve only migrated about 100 feet down the hall, taking a position within our Capitol Hill primary care clinic. I love the people here, as much for their personalities as their clinical acumen, and I relish the culture of a program that treats residents as colleagues rather than students. The ability for faculty to learn from the residents is a key part of what keeps our faculty among the best out there. It’s also that mentality of respect for residents’ abilities that enabled the residents to take a leading role in constructing an innovative and unparalleled longitudinal curriculum. With that background, I am comfortably and confidently doing a mixture of outpatient medicine, nursing home rounding, and hospitalist work.”
— Byron Doepker, Class of 2016

"I chose to come to Kaiser Permanente for my residency because I knew that I would get high quality family medicine training within a functional health system. After finishing my training, I've come to realize how rare and valuable it is to find that combination, and I appreciate it even more. The teaching faculty have diverse interests and areas of expertise and help to guide residents toward the training they will need for the type of career they want to pursue. There is broad support for residents' interests and passions, both within and outside of medicine. Residents learn in a variety of clinic and hospital settings, and the program is unopposed, meaning that Kaiser Permanente residents get more direct teaching from specialists in each discipline. Additionally, residents have access to virtual consults from Kaiser Permanente specialists which facilitates learning and improves patient care. Beyond the training opportunities and supportive learning environment, what I valued most about my time as a resident at Kaiser Permanente was that I was able to work with such talented and dedicated people in the residency — both faculty and my co-residents alike — and these relationships will last long past residency and continue to inspire my own career path."
— Katie Paul, Class of 2015

"My training at Kaiser Permanente was the perfect combination of rigor and support. The program's emphasis on continuity allowed me to provide truly full-spectrum care to my panel, from acute illness to chronic disease management, pregnancy and birth, hospitalization and end of life care. The faculty members are an amazing group of dedicated physicians, and their teaching was exceptional. They were present, thoughtful and always available. I feel so fortunate to have trained at Kaiser Permanente!" 
— Melissa Sutton, Class of 2014

"Kaiser Permanente was my top choice for residency training, and after having completed residency I couldn't be happier with that decision. At Kaiser Permanente I had the opportunity to really focus on learning and practicing medicine. Working in a fully functioning integrated system means there is less non-medical work to take up your time, such as calling pharmacies to check if a patient has refilled a medicine or calling in favors to have a patient seen by a specialist, etc. Instead, you can really focus on medicine. The other things I love are the close knit supportive environment, the focus on practicing evidence based medicine  (ask about our guidelines and guideline committees) and the ability to fully utilize specialists through virtual consults (you email a specialist a question regarding a patient - they look into their chart and offer advice without the patient usually having to be seen).

"Residency is not easy. There is an endless amount to learn and you are faced with really emotionally, mentality and physically challenging situations. However, while it is difficult, I found it much easier when surrounded by a system that supported and nurtured my growth. I liked it so much, I now work for Kaiser Permanente. Plus I was born at Kaiser Permanente and grew up in this amazing system — so why wouldn't I want to train/work here as well."
— Amanda Brender, Class of 2013

"After completing my residency with Kaiser Permanente, I had two extremely valuable skill sets: an excellent foundation in the practice of full-scope family medicine, and experience with the organization and operation of a patient-centered medical home (PCMH). I see these two skill sets as beautifully related, because while I can now provide good care in any setting, I have seen first-hand how I can provide even better care when it is coordinated, accessible, evidence-based, and run by a dedicated health care team with a primary care physician at the helm. I also found potential employers very interested in my direct experience with PCMH as I started interviewing for a post-residency position. PCMH is now a nationally recognized care delivery model, and health care organizations large and small are moving in this direction. My current position is on the faculty of a new family medicine residency program with Kaiser Permanente, where one of my main niches will be the teaching of PCMH skills to a new generation of physicians! I have huge hope that this sort of care will lead to more sustainable practices for clinicians and better outcomes for patients, and I am grateful to have had early training so I can now be a leader in teaching it."
— Julia Shaver, Class of 2012

"I think in the midst of residency, the residents forget what a great experience we have at Kaiser Permanente, and so I hope they all know how amazing that experience continues to be for me. I'm really grateful for not only the Group Health way of providing health care but also for the great mentorship and advice I received along the way.

I am at a brand new clinic in Calgary providing patient care but also helping to build the clinic based on the medical home model. It's a government-funded pilot project for proof of concept here in Canada. This just fell into my lap after someone saw my CV. I've been told I'm the only one in the clinic, and perhaps in the province, who has actually seen medical home function to its highest potential in real practice. It's so wonderful to know how much influence the words 'Kaiser Permanente Residency Program' hold these days, even in the great Canadian prairies!"
— Kasia Baker, Class of 2011

"I grew up as a 'Kaiser Permanente baby,' so I was familiar with the integrated model of care before I started training in medical school. I did not consider Kaiser Permanente as an option for training until I spent a month here as a sub-intern in the residency. What impressed me most was how comfortable my faculty members were with providing care across all settings, how they used evidence to drive their practice, and how downright human and kind they all were. When I finished that month, I was impressed by how much I wanted to practice medicine in this same way.

Training within a working system like ours was absolutely the right choice for me. Not only did I work beside those same mentors, but I also got comfortable in forming collaborative relationships with our specialists, both in the hospital and the clinic settings. Because we are all within the system, I find tremendous support from our specialists to help with patient care, either with virtual consults that can prevent unnecessary visits, advice over the phone, and sometimes even wandering over to my clinic room to help me make a diagnosis. This support allows me to practice a higher level of care for many patients, and I cannot imagine practicing without it. Furthermore, since implementing the medical home model, we have the time and tools to address the needs of our patients in a proactive way, which feels like the right work to be doing.

After leaving residency, I decided to remain at Kaiser Permanente and chose a job at the Burien Medical Center, where I had done a rotation as a resident. Practicing at Burien often feels like being at a community health center, but with the support and resources of the larger system and the medical home model. The Burien clinic sits in an area of the county with high chronic disease burden, and we have fantastic socioeconomic and cultural diversity. I am thrilled to be a part of the faculty team that is launching this site as a training clinic for residents because I think the clinic will provide a rich learning environment. Having the balance of training in this clinic, along with learning the medical home model and practice management that Kaiser Permanente is known for, will create the best of both worlds for future family medicine doctors who want to practice in any setting. Overall, I feel like I am in the right place, at the right time, and even better, able to provide the right care."
— Megan Melo, Class of 2010

"When I first visited Kaiser Permanente, my gut reaction was 'This is the type of medicine I want to practice.' What has surprised me is how versatile the skills and style I learned at Kaiser Permanente have been.

After leaving Kaiser Permanente I moved to an urban underserved clinic in Milwaukee, Wis., as a professor in the family medicine department at MCW. I have now transitioned into the associate director position at the family medicine program, expanding my focus on the academic side working with residents and medical students. I work with a wide variety of patients, predominantly minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged. I practice inpatient medicine, work in the ICU, deliver babies, and follow their growth and development. I have the chance to do home visits, group visits, and this year we even planted a small garden with some students from a nearby elementary school. With the background in evidence-based medicine and the strong research emphasis at Group Health I have even had the opportunity to be part of a national grant to improve geriatric education among family medicine residents.

When I think back to my time in residency, it was the wide variety of people in the faculty that allowed me to branch out in so many ways now. My mentors ran multidisciplinary clinics, gave national lectures, did research in clinical settings, and cared for patients from birth to death. They were honest about their own fears and insecurities, which showed me that practicing excellent medicine is not about knowing everything every time, but rather continuously improving, keeping an open mind, and being committed to your patients and your practice. Because of this example as well as the friendship and continued mentoring of so many at my residency 'home,' I have been able to do work I am truly proud of and honored to be a part of."
— Jill Hekman, Class of 2005

"Practicing patient-centered primary care in nontraditional settings oftentimes demands a considerable amount of creativity and flexibility on the part of the practitioner. Kaiser Permanente's evidence-based training emphasis provides the intellectually rigorous foundation from which a clinician can formulate sound therapeutic approaches despite the constraints imposed by unorthodox operating environments.

I had no inkling during my residency that the idealism and patient-centered philosophy of care nurtured by the Kaiser Permanente faculty would prove so applicable to my assignments a decade later working for the U.S. State Department in less familiar locations like Colombia, Iraq, and Germany."
— Kelii Gurfield, Class of 1998

"I've been working at the Country Doctor Community Clinic since finishing residency at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington in 1994. I've always worked part time in various schedule arrangements (now 0.6) but have done a full load of obstetrics and inpatient medicine call.

I love thinking about medicine, about the patients we serve with both heart and evidence. As family physicians, we have the opportunity to be both compassionate and to use our reason and problem-solving skills to care for patients in cost-effective, practical ways. I also love team medicine where I can count on other staff around me helping me care for my patients.

Doing residency at Kaiser Permanente was helpful for my maintenance of balance in my life, rigor in my thinking, and depth in my empathy for others. The faculty, both core and specialty, were tremendous in giving their best wisdom and teaching to us residents. I still have important bonds from my time there."
— Sarah Hufbauer, Class of 1994