VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) --At a time when there's a nationwide shortage of physicians, Kaweah Delta is working hard to retain young talent.
It's a dream more than a decade in the making, not just for these doctors of medicine, but also for their teachers.
"It's a big day, it's been a long road, it's been a cultural change for the hospital," said Lori Winston, Oversees Residency Programs.
Back in 2013, Kaweah Delta started a residency program after a severe shortage of physicians. These medical school students happened to be searching for a challenge with more hands on experience. They found each other in Visalia.
Winston said, "The study show that if you graduate from a residency program there is a 50-percent chance that you will stay in the area after you graduate. So this is our answer to an underserved area."
"We got to do a lot of procedures, a lot of exposure. I think that was a great advantage to being in a new program," said Aisha Umbreen, going to practice family medicine.
Thursday night, the health care district graduated its first class of physicians. These 24 students have spent the past one to three years serving patients in the South Valley.
Perhaps the proudest accomplishment is the fact at least five of the graduates will be calling the Valley home.
"As I've been here working at the hospital, I've really come to love this hospital. So it was important to stay here for me," said Sean Oldroyd, chief resident.
But even those who aren't staying in Visalia said they choose to work in vulnerable communities. To help those falling through the cracks in the health care system.
"I love to serve underserved population here in Visalia. I volunteered at a lot of places. You need to have a passion to be a physician," said Umbreen.
Carrying on the reason why they become doctors in the first place.