Family Practice Residency Program

Recruiting and retaining a healthcare workforce is a unique challenge in northern Arizona. This is especially noteworthy for the diverse communities across northern Arizona’s 61,208 square mile geography. Given the limited supply of clinicians adept in the interdisciplinary skill set required for successful practice in rural communities, the region needs to be proactive in building its professional practitioner capacity.

North Country Healthcare (NCHC) and The NARBHA Institute are doing just that. In a unique partnership, the two organizations are collaborating to develop a family practice residency based at NCHC. The program will create a premier residency training program that prepares primary care physicians for integrated physical and behavioral care in a population health framework. The residency will also train physicians in the cultural and community-specific traditions of the region, offering rotations in hospitals and clinics across the region – not just within NCHC’s expansive federally qualified health center network. Based on national data demonstrating that a majority of physicians take positions after residency in locations close to where they trained, this rich training experience will serve to bolster the supply of talented physicians interested in remaining ion northern Arizona after their training, establishing an ongoing supply of prepared primary care physicians for all delivery systems across the region.

NCHC is a federally qualified health center (FQHC) system with more than 20 clinics and clinical access points across the region. According to a document advancing the residency program:

“Its historical roots are in the Flagstaff Community Free Clinic which began in 1991 and the Northern Arizona Area Health Education Center (NAHEC) that started in 1987. In 1996, these two organizations merged, leading to an organizational mission “to provide accessible, affordable, comprehensive, quality primary health care in an atmosphere of respect, dignity, and cultural sensitivity. The health and wellbeing of patients and the community alike are promoted through direct services, training, outreach and advocacy.” North Country is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization governed by a policy-making board of directors.”

The opportunity is exciting and the partnership novel. After years of collaborative work formulating the components of the program as the sponsoring organization, in October 2017 NCHC received final approval to proceed in October 2017 by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) allowing program refinement to proceed. Recruitment for what is anticipated will be a highly competitive residency program will commence in 2018 for the initial resident class to begin in July 2019.