Health care providers and educators are planning and preparing for the launch of the Three Sisters Rural Track Program Family Medicine Residency – the first graduate medical education residency primarily based in Central Oregon.

Officials from St. Charles Madras, St. Charles’ Madras Family Care Clinic, Mosaic Medical, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and Indian Health Service (IHS) have met multiple times over the past few months to discuss details of the program, which is expected to bring six resident physicians to Jefferson County in 2025.

The group met recently in Madras for its third faculty development session, said program director Dr. Jinnell Lewis.

“We’re talking about the details of running a residency, how to teach residents and how to work with residents, plus we’re planning for recruitment, which happens this fall,” she said. “It takes a lot of work and collaboration to launch something like this and we’re deep into that process right now.”

Medical students will apply for residencies in September, and program officials will have less than two weeks to review applications and decide who to offer an interview, Lewis said. They hope to interview 90-100 applicants for six positions in the program’s first class.

That class will spend its first year at OHSU, then two years in Jefferson County. The Three Sisters program is unique because it offers three “continuity sites” in a rural area: Mosaic Medical’s Madras clinic, St. Charles’ Madras clinic and the Warm Springs Health & Wellness Center. Resident physicians will work at each of the three sites and will see their own panel of patients under the supervision of a teaching physician.

“With our three sites, we’re able to give residents an array of experiences, including a hospital-owned clinic, an FQHC in Mosaic and a federally run IHS clinic in Warm Springs,” Lewis said. “It’ll provide a well-rounded education in practice management, as well as exposure to different kinds of health care settings.”

The work has given Lewis a chance to meet and collaborate with a number of individuals and organizations in the area, she said.

“I’ve been to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs’ Tribal Council and met with Madras City Council and Jefferson County Commissioners, and everyone is supportive of this huge opportunity for our community,” she said.

The program will look to hire a new coordinator position soon, Lewis said. Resident physicians are expected to arrive in Jefferson County in August of 2025.

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