The Benefits of Seeing a Resident

Jonathan Bechard, MD, center, with residents Jose Medrano,MD, and Fnu Versha, MD
UNLIKE FAMILY PHYSICIANS who provide services to the entire family from “cradle to grave,” internal medicine physicians are charged solely with adult health care. Some may choose to go on to fellowships in specialties such as cardiology, gastroenterology or pulmonology. But regardless of the career path they choose, internists begin with a three-year residency, giving these new physicians the opportunity to practice medicine under the supervision of more experienced doctors (also known as attending physicians).

“In this outpatient setting, a resident isn’t the only one to see a patient,” explains Jonathan Bechard, MD, Associate Director of Eisenhower Health’s Internal Medicine Residency Program. “There’s always an attending faculty physician in the room who interacts with the patient and resident to ensure health care excellence.”

“Some people may balk at seeing a doctor who’s learning to be a doctor,” says Dr. Bechard. “But the reality is that these young physicians are constantly studying for their board exams. They’re up on the most current practice guidelines and literature.” Because the center’s staff consists of 60 residents and a dozen attending physicians, same-day appointments are often available. And once patients are in the examination room, they have more time devoted to them. “A new patient appointment here routinely lasts an hour. Follow-ups are easily 40 minutes. It all adds up to more care, not less.”

“I believe the greatest strength of our residency clinic is its people,” says Camellia Kani, MD, a second-year resident. “Our workforce and leadership mirror the diverse backgrounds, cultures and values of our patients, who may feel more comfortable being around providers who understand and share their beliefs and demographics.”

Dr. Bechard stresses that Eisenhower isn’t trying to lure patients away from other physicians in the valley. “But for those who can’t get in to see very busy physicians — or who aren’t satisfied where they are — this is an option,” he says. “We want to create a continuity of care, so that each patient is assigned to his or her chosen resident for the duration of their residency. Not to mention that some students fall in love with the desert, stay, and establish their practices here. The fact is, almost every patient who comes through our clinic says they’re just so impressed with our residents and the time and care they receive from them.”