Residency Spotlight: Shasta Community Health Center Family Medicine Residency

It’d probably be wise for me to preface that this was the last of a 4-interviews-in-3-days-across-3-states (NC, NJ, CA) stint that I did at the beginning of December whilst on the interview trail. This was my attempt at trying to save myself from having to fly back and forth across the country, and while I did succeed in that, I was pretty exhausted by the time I made it to Redding…but I liked the program too much to not do my absolute best to make it up there.

Redding, CAMy Interview Experience at Shasta Community Health Center FMR

All candidates who interview for the Shasta Community Health Center Family Medicine Residency Program also interview with faculty from the Mercy Redding FMR. Mercy interviews take place in the morning, and Shasta interviews take place in the afternoon. These two programs are very closely associated with one another, especially on their shared inpatient rotations, and are the only California programs I interviewed at that provided complimentary lodging.

My interview day started at the Mercy FMR office at around 8 a.m., where we were given a brief overview about the program by Mercy’s program director, plus a clinic tour. This was followed by 3 interviews with the program director, a faculty member, and one of the chief residents. The questions that they asked me were not extremely difficult–I didn’t feel as if I was being pimped or grilled at any point during the interview, and it seemed like they had really taken the time to go through what I’d written in my personal statement. I was asked some fairly specific questions regarding things I’d included in my application (everything from the volunteer work I did at a free clinic to an elaboration on my state records in powerlifting), and I definitely got the feeling that they were really just trying to get to know more about me as a person.

After the interview, one of the residents gave us a hospital tour and encouraged questions, which he answered honestly and openly. At around 11:15 a.m., a van appeared in front of the hospital to take us on a community tour through Redding to show us around town (with a stop at the Sundial Bridge, as well as Whiskeytown Lake). Due to an unforeseen incident, Dr. Lupeika (the program director for Shasta) was unable to be there for the afternoon interviews, so she hopped into the van with us so that she could have a chance to meet us and answer any questions that we might have. Almost everyone I met on the tour kept apologizing for the rain that day, but California has been needing that rain, and it did actually stop raining for a couple moments while we were out by the lake–it was a gorgeous view! Redding is a beautiful place for almost any outdoor activity that you could ever imagine, so if you happen to be an outdoor enthusiast, this place would make your soul happy.

We had lunch at the noon-ish (12:30 p.m.) conference with the Mercy and Shasta residents, and did a little icebreaker during introductions before sitting in on the lecture. Afterward, we headed over to SCHC (~5 minutes away), where we received a warm welcome (along with cookies and beverages) from the CEO, followed by a Q&A session by the associate residency director. Although Mercy and Shasta are very closely linked programs and I sincerely enjoyed having the chance to meet with and speak to a good number of the residents and faculty in both programs, I felt that Shasta’s extra focus on community outreach and service spoke to me on a deeper level. I interviewed with one of the residents and the associate program director, and had a really great time speaking with both of them. (I particularly enjoyed learning about the community outreach work that Dr. McMullin did…and hearing about his pets!) There is so much truth to the quote he shared:

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” (John Bunyan)


That evening, I attended the residency dinner (located in one of the conference rooms at the hotel I’d stayed at the night before), where I had the chance to speak with a lot of the residents I’d seen earlier that day, as well as a couple faculty members who also stopped by to speak with us (including one that I’d interviewed with earlier that day). Questions were encouraged, and everyone I spoke with seemed very happy to be in their respective programs (a few of the Mercy residents expressed interest in Shasta’s clinic, which I also fell in love with, and will talk about shortly) and seemed to get along very well with one another. I had a ton of fun hanging out with them, and there were definitely several points during/after dinner where we were laughing so hard that it got a little hard to breathe.

…Making my rank order list was extremely difficult. I mulled over this for months, and shuffled this program with my first choice so, so many times up until late February, when I could shuffle no more. I would’ve been overjoyed to match here as well, and would love to come back here to work when I finish residency!

Details on SCHC

Shasta Community Health Center FMR provides a rural training program with strong exposure to OB, peds, procedures, and homeless/community medicine. It is affiliated with University of California, Davis, and is also closely associated with Mercy Redding Family Practice Residency Program, especially on inpatient services and shared lectures/call schedule. Their mission is to train full-spectrum family practice physicians to practice in a Community Health Center environment to serve under-served populations.

There is a special focus on Homeless and Community Medicine, with emphasis on pain management, addiction medicine, infectious diseases, palliative care, and public health, as well as many opportunities for rural rotations. Project HOPE (Health Outreach for People Everywhere) is a mobile and street medicine outreach program of SCHC that provides medical and dental care to the homeless community.

Shasta Community Health Center (SCHC) is a non-profit Federally Qualified Health Center (SCHC) that provides health care services to medically under-served populations, and recently scored within the top 1% of Community Health Centers across the entire country. The clinic and hospital are conveniently located within 5 minutes of each other.

  • Core rotations in Community Medicine/Homeless, Pain Management + Palliative Care, Orthopedics, Integrated Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine
  • Strong emphasis on community medicine and outreach
  • 8 weeks of electives in PGY2, 8-10 weeks in PGY3
  • Opportunities for rural FM (designated Rural Prime Program through UC Davis), or to travel abroad for international medicine electives

SCHC is affiliated with University of California, Davis. Applicants with more than 1 exam failure on the USMLE or COMLEX are excluded from the applicant pool. There is no preference between taking the USLME or COMLEX, and the program accepts DO’s and IMG’s (U.S. experience with hands-on patient care required). Make sure you submit your application by December 1. (Make sure this information is accurate when you apply!)

The Location

Shasta Community Health Center Family Medicine Residency is located in Redding, CA–about 2 hours north of Sacramento and 3.5 hours from San Francisco. It is the major medical referral center between Sacramento and Oregon, and is a very affordable place to live compared to the rest of California (especially within cities). It is surrounded on 3 sides by designated wilderness areas, and is close to numerous state parks and redwood forests, with many opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts (e.g. hiking, skiing, water sports, fishing, camping, etc.). The summers are hot and dry, and winters are typically mild and wet. For those of you who’ve always wanted to live in (or move back to) California but could do without the high cost of living and the traffic, Redding is a great choice! (There is a Target, Costco, and Trader Joe’s here!)

Audition Rotation / Sub-I Clerkship

This is a smaller program (2 PGY positions per year)–contact the residency coordinator for more information on space/availability!




Farrah has a background in exercise biology and music. Her passions include food, sports medicine, working with the under-served, blogging, food and cats. She’s a good cook, too.

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