The Residency Spotlight is a new series, dedicated to highlighting various Family Medicine residencies across the country, based on in-person experience from our own writers. There are so many wonderful opportunities in FM it can feel overwhelming looking at your options. We hope to help you discover what features of a program are important to you, so you can better narrow down your search and apply to residencies that will be the perfect fit for your professional goals and personality.

Central Washington Family Medicine Residency, Yakima, WAMy Interview Experience at Central Washington Family Medicine Residency

Central Washington Family Medicine Residency provides students with complimentary lodging and a shuttle from the airport to the interview events, which was a huge relief after all the driving I’d done in the months prior. The dinner the night before is informal, at the home of a resident or faculty, and was pleasantly low-key. I felt really comfortable talking with the residents and the couple of spouses present – everyone was eager to answer my questions and talk about the town and the program. It felt like hanging out at a party, not like I was being judged or interviewed. The thing that really made me feel like they cared about who they were interviewing? A few days prior the coordinator emailed to ask if I’d like coffee or tea the morning of the interview, which he then picked up from a local coffee shop. It was a truly kind, personal touch I really appreciated.

The day of the interview started with the Program Director providing a brief introduction and discussion of the residency, including transparency about the changes they had already made to the curriculum,  as well as future modifications, both of which are always a positive sign. He addressed concerns with their didactics and the approaches they were taking to correct them, which were actual steps they’d taken, not merely MedEd buzzwords. The interview component was more structured, with specific questions being asked by faculty, residents and the program director. While some of these questions were “difficult” I didn’t feel pressured or pimped, but came away realizing they had put time and effort into devising questions to try to really get a feel for each applicant’s personality and determine how well they’d fit with the existing residents and faculty. The program director is invested and active in the residency and the interview process, as are the attendings and clinic staff.

There were tours of the clinic and one of the hospitals (the residency works at two in the Valley), followed by lunch. This was organized so applicants, residents and faculty were spread out, allowing for a variety of conversations, and ended with a half hour block dedicated to “Resident & Applicant Time” sans any faculty or administrators, to allow for privacy to ask the tougher, detailed questions about day-to-day life in residency. Literally every single person I met was friendly and open, excited to talk about the program and Yakima and, most importantly, seemed genuinely happy. One resident had actually scrambled into the program, but was quick to emphasize all the features he loved about it.

The day ended with a tour of the city on a small bus, allowing applicants to ask further questions of one of the residents and the coordinator. We literally asked every possible question about the Valley, call schedule, elective options, didactics, you-pick-farms, local housing market, wine tastings and genuinely enjoyed our conversation. And while you are not supposed to judge a program by it’s applicants, every person at this interview was someone I could see myself hanging out with, so we had a great time on our tour. All this in spite of the fact that it was almost mid-January, and thus the end of the interview season for both the program and applicants.

Finally, before we left we were given what may have been the cutest thumb drive I’ve ever seen, loaded with information on the program and Yakima, including data on cost of living, housing market, local wineries, hiking trails, rock climbing, farmers markets, concerts, local events. That afternoon I boarded the prop plane extremely torn about my rank order list, struggling to decide who was my number one. In the days that followed CWFMR went to the top again and again, and I would have been thrilled to Match and spend the next three years in the beautiful Yakima Valley.

Details on CWFMR

This residency is a Teaching Health Center with a newly remodeled clinic, focusing on full spectrum FM for under-served and rural populations. They employ team-based training in clinic, with integrated behavior counselors available, and residents managing patients in a pod-like setup. Nearly 50% of the population in the Valley is of Latino descent, and while there is no requirement to be fluent in any language other than English, it wouldn’t hurt your application if you do know Spanish (disclaimer: I don’t).

Residents work in both the clinic and two hospitals all within a mile of each other, ensuring a variety of socioeconomic experiences. One benefit mentioned at interview was that this allows many residents the chance to see daylight everyday as they drive or bike between hospitals and clinic.

  • Core rotations in orthopedics, MSK/sports medicine, emergency, psychosocial medicine
  • Strong emphasis on procedure training in clinic
  • Fourth months of electives in R3, with opportunities in OMT, family planning, low-risk OB and more
  • More focus on rural training if you enter their Ellensburg residency

CWFMR is affiliated with the Family Medicine department at University of Washington and with the Pacific Northwest UHS osteopathic school. Currently,  Central Washington Family Medicine Residency requires two very specific LORs, accepts DO’s with COMLEX only, allows only one failure on Step/Level 1 and no failures on Step/Level 2. FYI – please check their website to be sure this information is accurate before you apply!!!

By 0Core0 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Image by 0Core0 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The Location

Central Washington Family Medicine Residency is located in Yakima, WA about a three hour drive (or 30 minute flight) from Seattle, WA. That flight was on a plane that had propellers, but it’s an amazing part of the Pacific Northwest. The city itself combines small town charm with the perks of a larger location, as it actually has a Target and a Costco, and is surrounded by orchards and vineyards. For eight months of the year you can enjoy various “you pick” farms, from apples and pears to berries and peppers and several farmer’s markets. There’s also a dizzying number of vineyards, producing wine, cider and the majority of the United States hops. The downtown area is filled cute boutique shops that may be out of your price range, but the valley’s outdoor opportunities are rich with bike trails, camping, hiking and whitewater rafting.

Audition Rotation / Sub-I Clerkship

This year’s dates are listed on the sub-I application, and I highly recommend you apply as soon as possible if Yakima sounds like a good fit for you. Thanks for checking out our Spotlight!

By Pixie