Frequently Asked Questions

What prospective resident applicants should know about St. Mary’s Internal Medicine program during recruitment season? We realize that applicants to a residency training program have finite time and financial resources. Many prospective resident candidates often send e-mails or make calls to a particular training program to gauge whether their academic and professional accomplishments and experiences make them a “viable candidate”. While we at St. Mary appreciate the interest and interactions with prospective candidates, here are a few blanket statements about our program that can save you the time and energy and spare you from e-mailing or calling our program support and leadership staff. First and foremost, if you choose to apply to St. Mary, Long Beach, our Selection Committee reviews all ERAS files. We do not have any pre-set rule in or rule out filters re: standardized exam scores/results, type of medical school, year of graduation, prior clinical experience or exposure, etc. The NRMP has very robust historical data about Match results covering the last five to ten years. Those detailed NRMP Match reports should give you a sense of how program recruitment and matching typically works. We review all ERAS applicant files in their totality. We have a very diverse program – US and international graduates, allopathic and osteopathic medical school graduates. Dignity Health is an industry leader in an honoring commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, and our residency program embraces that recruitment and retention philosophy! We take ECFMG-sponsored J-1 visas and have had F-1/OPT trainees here, too. We do not have an H1-B or H2-B sponsorship. If you are a trainee in any residency program in the State of California, we strongly recommend you visit the Medical Board of California or Osteopathic Medical Board of California websites well in advance of the ERAS season to make sure you meet (or will soon meet) all of the pre-qualification requirements to train in our state by the next Spring.

What sets the St. Mary’s Internal Medicine Residency Program apart from other programs? Celebrating its 50th year as one of the UCLA-affiliated training site campuses, we believe that St. Mary’s offers one of the best residency experiences in California. Our program combines the best of academic medicine in the community hospital setting with the best of subspecialty medicine advanced residency training at the Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. We augment our exceptional inpatient training with a wide variety of outpatient experiences sites. In addition, our program provides excellent ICU training and graduates are well equipped at handling critically ill patients. Because we are the only residents in the hospital we have lots of hands-on exposure to running codes and doing procedures (endotracheal tube intubations, central lines, lumbar punctures, etc.). St. Mary Medical Center is a Level 2 Trauma Center and is an Advanced Primary Stroke Center. We value a balanced personal life as much as we value hard work. We hope you take the time to learn more about St. Mary Medical Center by applying for a position with us!

How responsive is the faculty to resident feedback and ideas?  We have outstanding faculty who are always willing to listen to a resident’s feedback or concerns and implement change. All residents have a faculty mentor, as well as ready access to the program leadership team. Resident participation in hospital committees, patient safety initiatives, and quality outcomes projects as well as program evaluation and improvement forums is integrated into the educational curriculum.

What is the difference between Preliminary and Categorical Interns? In general, no distinction is made between “preliminary” and categorical residents. Preliminary interns have 5 blocks of ICU time scheduled (instead of 3) and do not rotate at Harbor-UCLA or the SMMC outpatient continuity clinics.  Categorical interns will have 2 Harbor-UCLA ward months scheduled for their internship year. Typically there are seven PGY-1 Preliminary positions, seven PGY-1 Categorical positions, and two PGY-1 Primary Care track positions available for the match.

How has St. Mary Medical Center (Long Beach) performed in the residency match? Our program has filled all of its positions in the past decade.  We are sometimes confused with other St. Mary or St. Mary’s programs that may have gone unfilled in their match process.  Please look for our Long Beach location when researching our program from other resources.

What do the residents do when they finish their residency? In recent years, the majority of our graduates choose to go on to primary care or hospitalist medicine.   The remaining residents have had a good success rate in fellowship placement, obtaining fellowships in rheumatology, hematology-oncology, geriatrics, nephrology, palliative-care and infectious disease. Please visit the Graduates page to find out more about where our graduates go after residency.

Can medical students do rotations at St. Mary’s? Yes!  We accept medical students from all across the country who are interested in rotating through St. Mary’s.  Currently, we have students from Charles Drew UCLA School of Medicine that do both 3rd and 4th year clerkships.Our medical student clerkship coordinators, Kyra Perez, and Lizelle Felix, can also accommodate some other school’s students based on availability through the UCLA VSAS system.

How many days off do interns/residents get per week? Interns and Residents get 1 day off per week during Medicine Wards and ICU.  Interns get weekends off during ER, Neurology service, and General Medicine Clinic rotation.  Residents get 3 weekends off during their consult month and have all weekends off during Subspecialty Clinics and General Medicine Clinic rotation.

How many days of vacation are allowed each year? Three weeks of vacation are allotted.  They are divided into a two week and a one week block. PGY-1 residents receive an additional 4th week off at the end of internship year. All residents accrue 4 weeks plus 2 floating days of PTO (paid time off) each full academic year. Any unused PTO time is paid out in full at the end of their Dignity Health employment.

How is the ancillary support at SMMC? We have excellent ancillary support.  Blood-draws, respiratory therapists, EKG’s, STAT radiology services, and transport services are available 24 hours a day.  Pharmacists assist with antibiotic dosing, heparin drip monitoring, and TPN/PPN orders.   The echocardiogram technicians are available everyday and are on call after-hours and on weekends.  In addition, we have PT/OT, in-patient rehab, speech therapist, case-managers on each floor, and dieticians.  A web-based PACS (imaging) system available throughout the hospital.

How many days of maternity or paternity leave are allowed? Our Program abides by all benefits afforded to employees under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), California Family Rights Act (CFRA), and Dignity Health Human Resources policies and procedures. However, according to the American Board of Internal Medicine, no more than 4 weeks of absence from a residency program each year for any reason to maintain eligibility. Additional time missed may require extending the resident’s training time in the program, at the discretion of the Program Director and in line with institutional guidelines.

What are other benefits enjoyed by St. Mary residents?

  • Each resident gets non-taxed educational and discretionary reimbursement stipends of $3,500 (PGY-1), $4,000 (PGY-2), and $4,500 (PGY-3).
  • Health Insurance: Various medical and dental plans are offered for residents and their families. Credit is given to those residents choosing not to receive medical benefits through SMMC (evidence of other medical coverage is required).
  • Retirement Plan: 403b plans are offered to all residents with matching funds beginning in the second year of residency.
  • Meals: Three meals are included at the hospital cafeteria.
  • Parking is free for residents in the SMMC parking structure.
  • Lab Coats and Scrubs are provided.
  • Library access is available 24 hours a day.  A large selection of hardcopy and electronic textbooks and journals are available.
    High-speed Internet access is available in the library and throughout the hospital. Electronic journals (e.g. NEJM, JAMA, etc.) and MD Consult (including First Consult) are available on all computers.
  • Photo-copying is available to residents 24 hours a day.
  • Individual overnight call rooms are provided, with individual restroom facilities in each room. See photos.
  • Physicians’ Lounge available 24-7.
  • Annual all-inclusive Residency Retreat at UCLA Lake Arrowhead Conference Center.

What is the ambulatory experience at SMMC? One half day per week is spent in continuity clinic. Additionally, residents and interns do one continuity clinic rotation per year in the same clinic (M-F weekends off, no call).  There are 2 additional ambulatory rotations (AM-1 and AM-2) for PGY-2’s and 3’s that provide outpatient sub-specialty experiences, predominantly through clinics at Harbor-UCLA.

What electives are available at SMMC? An elective rotation is scheduled during third year. During this time the resident can obtain additional training in disciplines of his/her choice.  Some choose to gain more experience in subspecialties of Internal Medicine, while others have chosen areas such as Dermatology, Geriatrics, and Pathology. Special electives, such as research months or travel abroad, may be arranged on an individual basis.  Several recent graduates traveled around the world to do unique rotations in various disciplines.

Where do people live? Interns and Residents choose to live in a variety of places throughout Southern California.  Many live in Long Beach with the most popular location being Belmont Shore and on Ocean Boulevard.  Some commute from as far north as Westwood and as far south as Newport Beach.  St. Mary’s is readily accessible from the 710 Freeway which makes commuting convenient from any location in L.A.

Will I have time to read/study? Yes.  In addition to the various scheduled teaching sessions, residents have access to MDConsult, NEJM Online, and various other medical journals to augment their learning experience.  MKSAP and MedStudy are also available.  Given the exceptional ancillary services at SMMC, Residents dedicate more time towards learning and less time doing “scut” work.

Will I have free time to spend with my family/friends? SMMC Residency values the importance of balancing work with family and friends.  Resident schedules are very predictable from day-to-day, call-schedules are posted in advance, and vacation time is assigned at the beginning of the year; all of which make scheduling quality time with friends and family much easier.

Are residents truly happy at St. Mary’s? Yes!  Interviewees in the past have universally agreed that residents seem very happy with their experiences at SMMC.  We hope you have the time to interview at SMMC and see for yourself.  Please refer to Quotes for more about residents’ opinions.