skip to content, health centers and clinics, search, accessibility statement

Press Release

Popularity, Success of Residency Program Adds Vital Talent to Regional Medical Center

July 1, 2008

Growing up in Contra Costa with nine siblings in public housing, Francisco Dorado dreamed of becoming a family doctor. Last month, his dream came true as he started work in his home county at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, in one of the country's most popular residency programs.

Dr. Dorado grew up in what was then called West Pittsburg. His parents were migrant farm workers and none of his closest friends ended up graduating high school. Still, he says, "I always loved learning. I was always drawn to it." Similarly, he was influenced by his mother's background in herbal medicine and health-related work in her native Mexico.

After graduating from UC Davis but before medical school, Dr. Dorado worked as an outreach coordinator with Contra Costa Health Services' (CCHS) Family Maternal and Child Health Program, where he says he first realized how much he enjoyed working with underserved communities.

So when it came time last year to choose a residency program, the Michigan State medical school graduate had no doubt he wanted to pursue family medicine, and he knew where he wanted to do it.

"The program is well known, and it's arguably the best one in the state," Dr. Dorado said of the widely popular family practice residency program at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center (CCRMC) in Martinez, which is operated by CCHS.

Dr. Jeremy Fish, Program Director, says the program is one of the most popular in the nation because it features a strong family medicine component with a full spectrum of medical specialties.

"Our residents work side-by-side with experience family physicians, which is a great learning opportunity for them," said Dr. Fish. "In fact, about 70 of the physicians in our system do some level of teaching in our residency program, many on their own time."

Dr. Dorado is one of the 13 new residents at CCRMC, which attracts 22% of all residency applicants in the U.S. even though it has only 0.5% of the total positions available. Applications to the three-year program from graduates of U.S. medical schools have risen each of the last five years - from 158 in 2003 to this year's record 253.

"The variety of new doctors in this year's class and their commitment to the underserved is world class," said Dr. Fish, citing a few examples.

Dr. Elizabeth Bierer worked with Americorps providing direct medical care through the Indian Health Services in the remote village of Whiteriver, Arizona. Dr. Michael Boyd focused his medical school advocacy work in the Denver homeless community. Dr. Ruben Gonzalez grew up in the Bay Area, the son of Mexican immigrants. As a medical student he worked in rural Washington clinics with farm workers.

Dr. Rebecca Lee traveled to rural Panama and rural Sebastopol, California during her third year of medical school to learn what skills are needed in these underserved environments. Dr. Michel Sam's Chinese parents fled from Cambodia to France in the mid 1970s to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide - providing him with a blended Chinese, Khmer, French and American cultural background.

Drs. Matt Fentress, Matt Foster and Reagan Schaplow grew up in rural America. Dr. Sangita Pillai's clinical experiences during medical school were in the Amazon forests of Ecuador and rural, underserved India. Dr. Blair Thedinger worked in rural Honduras. Dr. Michelle Wong spent two summers in Beijing studying Chinese medicine during medical school.

For more information on the residents and the residency program at CCRMC, visit and click on Regional Medical Center, then Residency Program.

# # #

Press Contact
  • Dr. Jeremy Fish
  • 925-788-7214