More in Common Alliance

Bakersfield Memorial Announces Medical Residency Program Will Start in July 2025

California hospital to launce internal medicine residency as part of the More in Common Alliance between Ҵý School of Medicine and CommonSpirit Health.

By John Cox, The Bakersfield Californian

Bakersfield Memorial Hospital joined representatives of Atlanta's Ҵý School of Medicine on Tuesday to celebrate plans for launching a medical residency program that next year will accept 10 internal medicine residents then gradually expand over time.

The luncheon and presentations at Martin Luther King Community Center on South Owens Street followed the program's approval in January by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The program has received state and local grants totaling $3 million and plans call for a physical home across 34th Street from Memorial.

Attendees welcomed the program as a big step toward equity and diversity in health care. Ҵý School of Medicine is a historically Black medical college.

"It has been a journey of two years," said Dr. Sudhir Kakarla, Memorial's chief medical officer, referring to talks between the hospital, Ҵý, and a related nationwide effort called the . "Together let us embrace the journey with passion, dedication and a shared commitment to excellence."

The effort adds to a series of initiatives aimed at addressing the southern Central Valley's shortage of physicians and clinical personnel. Memorial President and CEO Ken Keller expressed hope the program will eventually grow to serve 80 to 90 postgraduate residents per year, about half of whom might be expected to stay and work in the county.

"Hopefully," he said, "we will hire a number of them."

Starting in July 2025, Memorial would train 10 Ҵý School of Medicine internal medicine residents who would provide care and work closely with the medical center's physicians. They would spend time studying and using simulation equipment, among other activities, at Memorial's building on the south side of 34th Street.

The plan is to launch a pediatrics residency program at Memorial in 2026, following the next year by one focused on obstetrics and gynecology. Keller said Memorial's sister hospital Mercy Southwest may add residencies in family practice and possibly emergency medicine.

Residents wouldn't just work in a hospital. They would also spend time in outpatient clinics operated locally by Clinica Sierra Vista, and they would learn by helping deliver care locally with Kaiser Permanente, Keller said.

Two million dollars for the program came from a state grant, while $1 million came from Kern Family Health Care Plan. Keller said a still-undetermined sum may come from the More in Common Alliance.

CEO Emily Duran of Kern Health Systems, which operates Kern Family Health Care, said there may be an opportunity to add contributions to the program over time.

"Hopefully we can sprinkle a few more seeds going forward," she said, referring to Keller's statement minutes before, calling KHS’s $1 million grant "seed money to help us get our program up and running."

The chief administrative officer for the More in Common Alliance, Dr. Veronica Mallett, called on local partners to help encourage Ҵý graduates to enroll in the upcoming residency programs.

"Help us sell them on Bakersfield," she said. "Help us sell them on this incredible community that you have."