Primary Care Track

Up to four residency positions annually are dedicated to more intensive training in primary care.

Program-Specific Curriculum

Additional Primary Care block during intern year

First year residents who have elected the primary care program will be assigned a second month of outpatient general internal medicine, typically at one of the Virginia Mason regional medical centers. This allows interns to have more up-front immersion in primary care practice and experience in multiple clinic settings. This block is in lieu of one inpatient month, allowing residents to focus more time toward outpatient medicine during their intern year.

Continuity Clinic at Eastgate Public Health Center

Residents in the primary care program are preferentially assigned to the Eastgate clinic for their weekly full-day continuity clinic. Eastgate is a King County public health clinic that has partnered with Virginia Mason since 2008 to serve the health care needs of the community and improve resident education. Residents at Eastgate quickly establish continuity with their panel of patients and are truly seen as the patients’ primary physicians. Residents learn to manage a stunning diversity of illness presentations in a resource-limited setting with the assistance of Virginia Mason teaching faculty. The partnership between Eastgate and Virginia Mason allows for expanded access to primary care for underserved patients, all the while providing a rich educational opportunity for our residents.

“Everyone here helps keep Eastgate open. It’s staffed by the same attendings as our downtown clinics, which means you get to care for truly underserved patients but with the same excellent educators we get at the other sites.”

Erika Cunningham, MD, class of 2016

Advanced General Internal Medicine blocks

In addition to the usual weekly continuity clinic, second and third year residents are assigned additional one-month general medicine blocks for immersive primary care training. These blocks are one-month condensed continuity clinic experiences at highly-functional Virginia Mason primary care sites, allowing residents to experience daily practice as primary care internists in more focused manners.

Primary Care Mini-Retreats

Half-day mini-retreats offer additional time for teaching and discussion of primary care topics for second and third year residents, followed by social/networking time. In the fall, a primary care retreat is followed by an evening Primary Care Career dinner with current primary care residents and recent graduates of the program practicing primary care along with our primary care faculty. We enjoy this "reunion" and the residents benefit from career advice and networking.

Outpatient Elective Experiences

An advantage of Virginia Mason for residents interested in primary care is that most of our subspecialty rotations have an outpatient focus (with the option of seeing hospital consults for those interested). Because of this, most subspecialty rotations are directly applicable to a career in primary care. In addition, there is a subset of two-week elective rotations tailored to residents interested in practicing outpatient general medicine, including outpatient gynecology/women’s health, outpatient general surgery, hyperbaric medicine, orthopedics/sports medicine, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, physical medicine and rehabilitation and urology. These electives are open to all residents, but are preferentially assigned to residents in the primary care program.

Primary Care Curriculum

In addition to the program-specific activities above, all residents participate in weekly didactics on clinic-specific topics. These didactics are led by our excellent primary care faculty who also serve as clinical preceptors. Our primary care faculty are consistently rated by residents as some of the best teachers in the program. Many have also been recognized by their colleagues and patients as among the top doctors in Seattle. All residents, primary care and otherwise, benefit from their expertise and enthusiasm for teaching.

As career pathways develop, residents may transfer in or out of the primary care track, usually prior to schedules being set for second or third year. Individualizing the residency experience is a core mission of the program.