Frequently Asked Questions

What are the strengths of the Providence Portland Medical Center (PPMC) training program?

  • Strong academic environment
    • Emphasis on residents as scholars/teachers
    • Constant presence of medical students
    • Strong faculty presence at Morning Report
    • Research projects
  • Emphasis on one-to-one teaching (resident/resident and resident/attending
  • Multiple options for continuity experiences
  • Continuously evolving curriculum
    • Women's Health
    • Quality Improvement Curriculum
    • Hospitalist medicine
    • End-of-Life/Palliative care
    • Opportunities to focus on advanced areas (Primary care, behavioral health, HIV medicine, hospitalist medicine, women's health)
  • Faculty-resident advisor groups
    • Each resident is linked to a faculty advisor/mentor who follows his or her progress throughout the entire residency and helps facilitate life and career planning after residency.
  • Resident retreats
    • Annual professional development day for all residents
  • Connection to the community
    • Partnership with Portland Public Schools, serving as educators to high school students
    • Volunteer experience at Wallace Medical Concern (provides primary and urgent medical services to resident who have no insurance or face other barriers to care).
    • International exchange programs with Moi University in Kenya and Universidad Rafael Landivar (Guatemala) 
    • Primary care opportunities in community practices
    • Developing relationship with IRCO (International Refugee Community Organization), including Africa House. 

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What are some examples of unique educational opportunities at Providence Portland?

  • We have multiple specialists as team members within our clinic which enhance the point of care learning experience.  This includes infectious disease, two rheumatologists, an endocrinologist, a psychiatrist, and a psychologist. It's not uncommon for residents and faculty to ask an infectious disease specialist or rheumatologist to step into the room of a clinic patient to clarify physical exam findings or treatment plans.  We also have an on-site clinical case manager and, once a week, there is a physical therapist and a pharmacist available on-site to help with clinic patients.
  • On the Quality Improvement rotation, you will walk into the office of the CEO for our hospital and discuss the paper read the night before on Physician Leadership and Healthcare.
  • On your procedure rotation, you may arrive in the OR at 7 a.m., intubate three patients, then head to the invasive radiology department to place a few central lines.  Afterward, you might find yourself in the ultrasound department performing paracentesis and thoracentesis.
  • Experience developing and carrying out resident-run quality improvement projects with faculty mentorship

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What about obtaining fellowships?

  • We are committed to helping every resident who seeks a fellowship get one in their specialty of choice.
  • Personal advocacy makes a difference.  Since you work directly with specialists (instead of with subspecialty fellows), they know you well and are better able to write supportive letters of recommendation during your application process.  Similarly, subspecialists and program leaders frequently make phone calls to fellowship program leaders on behalf of residents.
  • If, after the interview, you wish to speak with PPMC graduates who have gone into specific fellowships, please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to provide a contact.

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What makes PPMC residents special?

  • Diversity of backgrounds
  • Commitment to serving the underserved
  • Multiple state and national awards at the American College of Physicians and SGIM meetings
  • True sense of caring and of enjoying each other and the practice of medicine

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What makes PPMC faculty special?

  • Leadership in national organizations that have been held by our faculty: 
    • President American Thoracic Society
    • President, Infectious Diseases Society of America 
    • Secretary-Treasurer of ABIM Board of Governors
    • Board of Directors, ABIM
    • Chair, Women's Caucus SGIM
  • Involvement in writing ABIM certifying exams           
  • Wide variety publication in major journals and books           
  • All faculty are active clinicians          
  • Most importantly, a strong focus on resident education and a desire to teach  

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What about autonomy at Providence Portland?

The balance between resident autonomy and supervision is critical. Residents must become comfortable making independent decisions. Our residents formulate their own opinions and are the only ones to write orders on their patients. We believe supervision is important but primarily a support for resident decision-making. Our goal is to train residents to think for themselves, ask questions, go to the literature to answer clinical questions, and work with others in a multidisciplinary team approach.

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What are a few recent innovations in the residency program?

  • Quality Improvement Curriculum spanning all three years. Group projects with faculty mentorship. Assigned blocks in every year and also use of 3:1 block electives. 
  • New inpatient team structure: Inpatient teams are now structured with an emphasis on progressive responsibility.  Initially second year residents work one on one with their attending hospitalist, followed by supervising a single intern and medical student and finally to supervising a team of two interns and medical students in the third year
  • Residency Educational Website: Educational resources including videos, articles, and self assessment quizzes are now available in a single easy to use website that is accessible from any computer or mobile device. Our online system is based on a social platform that allows residents to contribute material, ask questions, and interact with orther residents and faculty beyond the typical conference environment.
  • Noon Educational Conference re-design:  Our didactics are now structured using theme-based weeks in an interactive and diverse format coordinated by faculty.
  • New Advanced Focus Area:
    • Primary Care and Medical Education are added to existing areas: Hospitalist, HIV Medicine, Women's Health, Palliative Care and Behavior Medicine
  • Wellness Curriculum
    • Meditation, mindfulness and compassion all covered
    • Health maintenance half-days: residents can schedule medical appointments during this time, protecting their days-off and vacation days.
    • Resident support group
  • Asynchronous Feedback.  Our emphasis on feedback to one another is facilitated by newly developed online technology. 

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What makes Providence Portland a great place to train?

  • The hospital is both a tertiary referral hospital for Oregon and Washington and a primary care facility for northeast Portland.
  • The full gamut of clinical services are available: 
    • 24/7 acute coronary intervention 
    • Heart transplantation 
    • Endoscopic surgery 
    • Gamma knife resection 
    • Hyperbaric unit
    • Cancer Center
    • Research Center
  • The hospital and its staff provide care in an efficient, state-of-the-art and compassionate manner.
  • Providence Portland Medical Center serves a broad diversity of patients.
  • The hospital has integrated inpatient-outpatient electronic medical records.
  • Training in a single site fosters camaraderie among faculty, residents and nurses.

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Is Providence Portland "academic" enough?

We sometimes hear concerns from applicants that a community-based program will not provide the same academic opportunities as a university-based residency. A proven ability to place residents in competitive fellowships, a faculty filled with academic leaders heavily involved in research and publication, and regular resident participation in national academic competitions are just some of the factors which make our program highly academic. The medical students who are a constant presence on our ward, ICU and subspecialty services consistently rank our learning environment as one of the best.

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What is the impact of training in a Catholic hospital?

The Providence Mission is to serve with compassion for all, especially the poor and vulnerable. We are committed to five core values: respect for the dignity of others, compassion, justice, excellence and stewardship. The faculty, residents and staff bring diverse spiritual beliefs to the program; when you view the biographies of the residents and faculty, emphasizing volunteerism and commitment to the underserved, it's apparent that we all embrace these core values.  This translates into caring for people regardless of their background and regardless of their insurance status or financial situation.  In 2011, Providence Health & Services provided more than $651 Million in community benefit, including nearly $204 million in free and discounted care for those who could not afford to pay for care.

Residents and faculty strive to treat the whole patient, not just their medical condition.  For patients with religious traditions, chaplains (both ordained and lay persons) are available around the clock and represent a variety of denominations.  You will not find any care team member who doesn't appreciate the benefits of this service in helping to address the patients' spiritual and psycho-social needs.

Questions are often asked about reproductive counseling. Providence Medical Group - Northeast, where all residents and Medical Education faculty practice, counsels patients on all aspects of birth control and abortion. We provide birth control and emergency contraception.  We feel it is important that all patients make the contraceptive choices that are best for them and their family.

If you have questions, be sure to ask on your interview day.

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Do I get to work with medical students?

Yes. Medical students in their third and fourth years are constantly present on the wards and in the ICU. Our interns and residents play an active role in medical student education, and we feel that medical students' presence enhances resident education.

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Will all my training occur at PPMC?

The vast majority of your rotations occur at PPMC, which helps foster the camaraderie of the residents as they all work together on a regular basis. However, senior residents also rotate on the inpatient service at the Portland VA Medical Center. Residents may also elect a rotation at another academic institution, and residents planning for fellowship often take advantage of this opportunity. In addition, residents have the opportunity for an overseas elective. We feel that the perspective added by working in a developing country is a wonderful supplement to residency training, so every year a few of our residents spend can one rotation block in Eldoret, Kenya or Guatemala.

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Is there collegiality amongst the residents?

Yes! The program size enables all residents to quickly form friendships and support systems. Residents frequently socialize outside the hospital with both Chief Resident-planned events (“First Fridays”, where the residents and their significant others/families get together for pizza) and non residency-directed gatherings. Residents report frequent social events (birthday parties, BBQs, hiking, biking, golfing, etc.) and groups have formed for regular yoga, book clubs, knitting, etc. 

We encourage you to read the biographies of our residents, which note their outside interests and also speak directly with as many of them as you can if you come to interview at Providence Portland Medical Center.

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What are the advantages of training primarily at a single hospital?

  • You're not just rotating through various rotations as an unknown team member.  from day one, you are part of the Providence family.  You know the names of the RN's, care managers, hospitalists and subspecialists; likewise, they know yours.
  • You know the system of the hospital (the EMR, where to find things, etc.) which allows you to move more efficiently and focus on academics instead of learning the system.

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What are the benefits of being the only residency program in the hospital?

Being the only residency program in an advanced tertiary care facility has immense benefits. Our residents are routinely asked by subspecialists to participate in the care of their patients - opportunities which may be lost to residents who share their hospitals with other training programs. For instance, a neurologist seeing an acute stroke patient in the emergency department would page one of our residents instead of a neurology fellow. A general surgeon admitting a critically ill postoperative patient depends on the care of our ICU house staff. An oncologist admitting a patient with acute leukemia may ask our ward teams if they want to be involved. And the list goes on.

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Do I get the opportunity to work with residents from other specialties or residency programs?

  • Each month a different senior internal medicine resident from OHSU rotates on the wards here at PPMC. Additional interaction with OHSU residents and medical students occur when you rotate at the Portland VA Medical Center.
  • Some OHSU residents have their continuity HIV clinic here with our infectious disease physicians, who share our clinic space.
  • Our residents rotate at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center for cardiology, which provides opportunities to work with yet another group of medicine residents. Similarly, residents from Providence St. Vincent rotate at PPMC for rheumatology.
  • Our residents routinely work with house staff from Providence Oregon Family Medicine Residency at Providence Milwaukie Hospital, who regularly rotate on our ward service and in the ICU.
  • OHSU infectious disease fellows rotate at our hospital.
  • Residents also interact with OHSU geriatric fellows during the clinic portion of their geriatrics rotation.

While the residents at our program develop a strong group bond with long-lasting friendships, these interactions provide bonus opportunities for a more expansive peer group.

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