Eight doctors, most of them, fresh out of medical school, are in Douglas County to continue their training to become board certified family physicians.
The new doctors are the first class of the Roseburg Family Medicine Residency Program and have started practicing at Aviva Health, CHI Mercy Medical Center, Umpqua Health - Newton Creek clinic and at the Roseburg VA Medical Center campus.
The first group in the program has diverse backgrounds and come from all over the world.
Four of the doctors are from the U.S. — Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Michigan — and the other four are from Bahrain, Hong Kong, India and Fiji.
Dr. Amal Alyusuf is from Bahrain and she and the rest of her family had to flee the country in 2012 because of political unrest just as she was finishing her residency training in that country.
“When things started to happen, we had to leave, so we immigrated to the United States eight years ago,” Alyusuf said. “I grew up in a rural setting in my home country, both me and my husband grew up in the village side of the country, so this is home for us.”
Dr. Simran Waller was born in Dearborn, Michigan and grew up in near San Francisco. She got her medical school degree at St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada and a masters of public health degree at the same school. She also grew up in a rural area which drew her to Roseburg.
“I think in the smaller communities, you get to do a lot more as a family physician,” Waller said.
Waller’s husband just finished his residency in Arizona and will also be working as a doctor in Roseburg.
Dr. Christy Sunny was born in India and grew up in Chicago. She did part of her medical schooling in India and at American University of Antigua College of Medicine. She completed her undergraduate studies at Kasturba Medical College International Center, Manipal, India.
She was sold on coming to the Roseburg program because of the hands-on experience.
“I put this as one of my top programs because we would be the only residents here and we would be able to do pretty much any cases that we wanted, get a lot of hands-on experience and we would get to know a little bit about everything,” Sunny said. “I’m really interested in obstetrics and global health and I really, really want to work with the underserved and just be there for them.”
Dr. John Melling was born and raised in Burley, Idaho. He earned his medical degree from Saint James School of Medicine in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Melling has a wife and five kids. They’ve already bought a house and some property in the Roseburg area, so he’s looking forward to staying awhile.
“In a rural community, you’re going to be able to do a little bit of everything to help people that might not have another place to go for that type of treatment,” Melling said.
Gabrielle Kelly, MD, is a native Oregonian and grew up near Portland in the community of Damascus, She completed her medical education training at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland in 2019. She then completed a one-year general surgery residency training program at Riverside University Health System in Moreno, California.
Kelly wants to help ensure that women have access to good health care.
“Especially in a rural area, and I think that really starts before birth, caring for mothers and caring for young women and being a strong community mentor for them as they grow up,” Kelly said. “I also care about caring for veterans, my family has a strong history of serving.”
Dr. Ashley Sparks grew up in the town of Yelm, Washington. She earned her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree at College of Osteopathic Medicine at Pacific Northwest University of Health of Sciences in Yakima, Washington.
“I like building relationships and building that foundation of trust and having an opportunity for making a bigger impact on improving people’s health and I’m really excited to focus on preventative medicine as well,” Sparks said.
Dr. Seemal Kumar was born in Fiji and grew up in the Central Valley of California. She earned her medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine, Grenada. Then she completed a master’s of business administration in multi-sector health management and a master’s of public health, also from St. George’s University.
“I want to see everybody from birth to death, I like a variety of patients and that’s something you can see here in Roseburg, a different variety of patients and illnesses,” Kumar said.
Dr. Eric Wong was born and raised in Hong Kong. He earned his medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine, Dominica, and a Master of Public Health from Chamberlain University, Downers Grove, Illinois.
Despite living in large cities, the rural setting appeals to him.
“My experience is that I enjoy living in smaller towns, it’s like I have my own space,” Wong said.
Dr. Chip Taylor, residency director for the Roseburg Family Medicine Residency Program is pleased with the candidates that were chosen.
“There is a wealth of experience and perspective here, I think that’s the key thing that needs to be brought in,” Taylor said.
KC Bolton, CEO of Aviva Health, said the expansion of the clinic on Kenneth Ford Drive, will allow work flows to help learners to do the job right.
“We’re going to have a facility in size that will allow us to do clinical workflows that actually help learners to do the job right,” Bolton said. “I think it’s going to be a game changer.”
The eight new doctors will help take care of many patients who were left without a health care provider after five physicians left family practice about five years ago. Organizers of the Roseburg Family Medicine Residency Program hope they can keep a significant number of the doctors after their three-year residency program is finished.