FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- One by one, medical students formalized their next stage to becoming a practicing physician by donning a white coat.
Saint Agnes medical center held the white coat ceremony on Monday.
It was a milestone for the hospital who welcomes its first class of family medicine residents.
Among the eight was Lizbeth Alvarado-Garcia from Hanford.
"My parents are immigrants and coming here and doing everything. I'm kind of used to being the first. I'm excited to be in the first class of family medicine here at Saint Agnes," said Lizbeth Alvarado-Garcia, Saint Agnes family medicine resident.
Staff also welcomed their second class of internal medicine residents. The 16 are from all over the country. A few have Valley ties including Namitha Malakkla, who went to Clovis West in Fresno.
"Fresno has done a lot for me growing up. It shaped who I was in my early stages so I wanted to come back and give back to the community here and I really want to serve the underserved population," said Namitha Malakkla, Saint Agnes internal medicine resident.
Hospital staff hope that the program will help draw more doctors here.
"We have a very low ratio of primary care physicians. The last data I saw was 39 primary care physicians for every 100,000 residents in the Central Valley. That's the lowest in the state," said Dr. Walter Eugene Egerton, Saint Agnes Chief Medical Officer.
There are plans to expand the program to emergency medicine and to add more residents to the existing programs in the coming years.
The doctors that received their white coats will now begin their three-year residency training program at Saint Agnes. The knowledge they'll take with them for the rest of their lives.
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