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Director's Message

Letter from Willard S. Chung, MD, Program Director

Welcome to Dignity Health’s Family Medicine Residency Program at Marian Regional Medical Center (Marian) on the beautiful Central Coast of California! Our community-based residency program is uniquely positioned to provide a remarkable training environment. We offer dedicated faculty who have developed varied educational experiences for residents, creating a solid foundation in family medicine as well as allowing for discovery and deepening of skills in areas of personal interest. Furthermore, with the significant expansion of medical services and arrival of A.T. Still University Osteopathic Medical School satellite campus in Santa Maria, Marian is poised to become the regional medical and academic center between the urban locales of Los Angeles and San Francisco. If you are interested in leveraging your passion for Family Medicine in the context of a supportive, diverse, and visionary learning environment, then Marian Regional Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program is the place for you!

A well kept secret, the Central Coast has become the destination to vacation or retire for people in the know. However unbeknownst to many, it is predominantly an agricultural region with a very large migrant farm worker population and undocumented community who face significant barriers to adequate health care. Over 76 percent of our population identifies as Hispanic and 65 percent speak a language other than English at home based on the 2020 census. Almost half of all female-headed households with children live at or below the Federal Poverty Level. Located in the city of Santa Maria with a population greater than 100,000, Marian is the sole hospital in the entire Santa Maria Valley. Driven to provide access to quality health care to our underserved community, the residency program was founded in 2013 as the vehicle to meet the primary care needs of our most vulnerable patients. 

While the mission of the institution is to provide the safety net for the underserved and uninsured, the unique nature of our patient population allows residents to care for a wide array of patients with various means. This includes retirees, employees of the hospital and clinics, along with well-established ranching and farming families. As a result, residents are exposed to a wide array of insurance carriers, formularies, and pathology. I like to point out that there are not many disease processes our graduates will not have encountered, nor a medication they will not have prescribed. Our unique community and curriculum prepare our residents to practice traditional family medicine nearly anywhere, rural or urban, within a large healthcare organization, federally-qualified health center, or private practice. 

There are several things I would like to highlight about the program that I think you will find attractive as an applicant:

  • Embedded within our FMC, located directly on the hospital campus, are several specialty clinics including those for procedures, osteopathic manipulation (OMT), high risk infant follow up, and behavioral health.
  • We were the first Family Medicine program in California to receive Osteopathic Recognition through the ACGME which serves as the foundation of our OMT Track which is offered to both osteopathic and allopathic residents.
  • We have partnered with the University of Arizona Weil Center for Integrative Medicine and offer a robust Integrative Medicine Track.
  • Our Underserved and Community Medicine rotation will have you doing outreach for the homeless, uninsured, and victims of human trafficking through the Street Medicine program, Mobile Health Unit, SLO Noor Free Clinic, and soon to be Medical Safe Haven.
  • The residency program has taken over Marian Extended Care Center to care for nearly all of the short term rehab and long term care patients making for a very rich geriatric experience.

As the Program Director, I encourage you to consider joining the dynamic team of expert physicians, skilled nurses and health care professionals here at Marian. We embrace your passion for family medicine and will provide you with both an inspiring and provocative learning environment. The patient population is diverse and challenging, and faculty will work enthusiastically with you to provide the latest evidence-based health care. We are currently looking for diverse, intelligent, compassionate, and dedicated medical students who are determined to be leaders in the specialty of Family Medicine. 

I am proud to lead a residency program at a teaching hospital that is committed to remaining at the forefront of medical innovation and offers a curriculum built on a solid foundation of clinical science in a truly supportive learning environment. Choosing where to apply and, ultimately, where to do your residency is not an easy decision. I encourage you to further explore the Marian Regional Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program. I, along with the rest of our team, look forward to meeting you. 


Willard S. Chung, MD, FAAFP
Program Director
Marian Family Medicine Residency Program