WSU partners with Providence Sacred Heart Children’s for pediatric residency program

Will start residency beginning the summer of 2024



Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Spokane.

JOSIAH PIKE, Evergreen news co-editor

WSU is working in partnership with Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital to launch a pediatric residency in Spokane.

Christina Verheul, Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine director of communications and marketing, said WSU has been in discussions with Providence about the possibility of a pediatric residency for a few years.

“When the college of medicine started it was always part of what we wanted to do and our mission to not only educate medical undergraduate students, but it was also part of our mission to create new residency programs,” she said.

Verhuel said this residency is important to the community since many of the students will remain in the community after their residency is complete.

Medical residents are medical graduate students who work in hospitals or doctors’ offices to continue their medical education in a specific field for a period of three to five years known as a residency, according to WebMD.

“The Spokane community and pediatricians within Spokane have been talking about the need for a pediatric residency for decades,” she said. “When WSU created the medical school and got to a place where we could start creating a residency program, it was a very natural fit together.”

Verhuel said the residency will accept its first cohort of residents in June to July 2024. This year, WSU will begin recruiting and will begin the application program for potential residents.

“We will start receiving applications for the program in September of this year,” she said. “In March 2024, our residents will be matched to the program.”

Christian Rocholl, program director for the pediatric residency, said he has been one of the people driving the conversation on creating this residency for nearly five years. There is no pediatric residency in Spokane and there are only two in the rest of the state, one in Seattle and one in Madigan.

Rocholl said as the residency director, he will be in charge of running the day-to-day operations of the program, as well as certifying that graduates have met the requirements for the program.

“The resources there are already in place. It would be a great opportunity for a student to come here,” Rocholl said. “We hope just being in Spokane will have an impact, but second, we hope to have a large impact throughout all of eastern Washington.”

The residency will have six residents per cohort for a total of 18 residents once all three cohorts are at full capacity, Rocholl said. The hope is that this residency will be beneficial to WSU and the surrounding community. 

“There’s not a lot of new programs every year, so the fact that WSU was able to move forward on this was pretty cool,” he said.

Rocholl said Spokane will be a good place for this residency because the area already has a children’s hospital, although the main challenges in running the residency include funding the program.

“WSU is taking over as a sponsor, but it’s going to be in cooperation with Providence,” he said. “WSU is providing some of the money through working with sponsors and advertising.”

Verheul said there have been several donors who have given to WSU’s residency program, including Premera Blue Cross, who gave $5.5 million to start up the residency programs in 2019.

Once the residency is completely in operation, Providence will provide the physical space for the residents to learn in, while WSU will continue to provide residents who can attend there, among other hospitals, Verheul said.

“There are pediatricians who have been wanting this and talking about it for literal decades now. There’s been so many people who have been coming together to make this happen,” she said. “That really speaks to how the College of Medicine was set up. We’ve always been a community-based medical school.”