Frequently Asked Questions

I heard that California’s medical boards require a training license (PTL) for all unlicensed residents. What does that process entail?  Please check the Medical Board of California (MBC) and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California (OMBC) respective websites or communications for the latest information on the new training license application process which began January 1, 2020.  We advise all applicants interested in training in California to review their Board’s website on the completion requirements for a PTL.  If you match at St Mary, prepare to apply for a PTL starting the first week of June 2022.

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 evaluates all ERAS files that are reviewed to our program in their totality.  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. We do, though, require all viable applicants to immediately upload and update their ERAS profile during any period when the latest standardized score reports (USMLE and COMLEX) or updated transcript results, etc. become available. 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 ERAS applicant files in their totality, so while we appreciate inquiries of interest from applicants, given the high volume of applicants we receive each season, we cannot respond to questions like “How can I make myself more competitive to your program?”, “Am I a qualified candidate for your program?” or “What is the status of my application?”.  We review new or updated ERAS files throughout the entire interview season (October to January).

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! If you are hoping to be a trainee in any residency program in the State of California, you need to 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.  To rank our program or to be recruited by us, you must be qualified for all pre-hire requirements as dictated by the Dignity Health Human Resources and Legal departments and by our Graduate Medical Education office.  We do not offer observerships, externships, research opportunities, or anything of that nature.  Medical student rotations go through the VSAS system at the UCLA School of Medicine.

Do you takes any visa holders?  **J-1 Visa Update**:  We will consider  J-1 applicants this interview season.  We do not have an H1-B or H2-B sponsorship. We do though consider F-1/OPTs who have a full year’s eligibility.

Is my ERAS application considered, if I have not taken USMLE 2CS or COMLEX 2PE?  For international medical school graduates, please see the Application Requirements section. U.S. and Canadian graduates without a step 2 skills exam, your ERAS file is reviewed impartially, given that that examination was suspended as of March 16, 2020.

What sets the St. Mary’s Internal Medicine Residency Program apart from other programs? We believe our programs is one of the best residency experiences in Southern California. Our program combines the best of academic medicine in a community hospital setting coupled with advanced residency training options in subspecialty medicine rotations at the Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, the Level I Trauma Center. We augment our exceptional inpatient training with a wide variety of outpatient experience clinics and offices. In addition, our program provides excellent critical care training and our graduates are very well equipped in treating  severely 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 Comprehensive Primary Stroke Center. We will soon complete the final step to become a Comprehensive Stroke Center.  St. Mary residents (even at the R-1 level) get maximum face time and direct access to all of the attendings. At some other training centers, only fellows get unfettered access to attendings. At St. Mary (and related training sites), the hospitalists and attending physicians in all medical and surgery specialties are eager to teach residents.

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! If you interview with us, feel free to ask any questions when you meet with our housestaff, faculty, and programs leaders on your Interview Day!

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 PGY-1 In general, no distinction is made between “preliminary” and categorical PGY-1 residents. Preliminary interns have 4 or 5 blocks of ICU time scheduled (instead of 3-4) and prelims do not rotate at Harbor-UCLA or the St Mary outpatient continuity clinics.  All prelims will have training rotations that meet the requirements of the advanced specialty that would require a separate PGY-1 year in medicine. Categorical interns will have 2 Harbor-UCLA Observation Unit rotations months (three weeks each) scheduled for their internship year. Typically there are seven PGY-1 Preliminary positions, seven PGY-1 Categorical positions, and one to 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.

If I match at St Mary in March, what is the general timeline of pre-hire activities and onboarding requirements to start the PGY-1 academic year the third week of June 2021? (A) At the end of March 2021/ early April, you be contacted by the St. Mary Residency Program Coordinator to get our initial batch of demographic data forms that need to be completed completed [if you have a period of time where you plan to be gone, please inform the Coordinator & Manager]; (B) By mid April, complete your online employment application (sent out by our Talent Acquisition office) and the second wave of paperwork needs from our Program and Legal, (C) By May 1st, set up your pre-hire physical (a corporate-required drug screen test is part of the physical) with our Employee Health department (appointments are scheduled during the last three weeks of May and cannot be performed by an outside provider); (D) Also in May 2021 – you will need to have your medical school diploma for us to copy; if not yet issued you’ll have to get your medical school send our program coordinator a letter confirming you are on track to graduate on time (this will serve as a temporary placeholder document), until we can primary source verify your diploma; (E) First week of June – you need to be cleared by Human Resources to begin your new employee orientation; (F) Monday June 14, 2021 starts the PGY-1 orientation weeks; mandated orientation and inservicing events change, so be prepared to be available each weekday until the start of clinical duties the third week of June (exact clinical start date TBD, but day #1 of PGY-1 clinical duties is typically between June 21- 24).   Our expectation is that all ERAS applicants who plan on ranking or accepting a PGY-1 residency offer from St. Mary via SOAP must meet all of the above onboarding requirements.

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 dermatology, rheumatology, hematology-oncology, geriatrics, nephrology, palliative-care and infectious disease to name a few. 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 the 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?

  • Competitive salary and benefit package, including:
  • For 2020-21, each resident gets a non-taxed discretionary reimbursement stipend of $500 (PGY-1), $1,000 (PGY-2), and $1,500 (PGY-3). Each resident also gets an annual non-taxed educational reimbursement fund of $3,000 through the EdAssist-approval eligible portal.
  • 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.
  • Dignity Health iPad tablet assigned to each resident.
  • Financial support for resident presentations sponsored by the Program and your Faculty Adviser.
  • A resident-authorized project fund. Past purchases have included point-of-care ultrasound equipment.
  • Meals: Three meals are included at the hospital cafeteria or at noon conference.
  • 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.  Close access to key patient care areas.
    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.
  • Resident lounge areas are close to the clinical care areas and are 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 a research month or travel abroad, may be arranged on an individual basis.  Several recent graduates traveled around the world to do unique rotations in various disciplines.  Each academic year is unique in terms program flexibility of offering alternative educational opportunities.

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!!  Residents are quite happy with their residency and training experiences at SMMC.  We reach out to trainees once they finish their St. Mary internal medicine residency training.  Frequent “first year out of St Mary training” feedback from one-year prelims or three-year graduates is that their SMMC training was a rigorous, but outstanding experience. We hope you have the time to interview at SMMC and see for yourself.  Please refer to Quotes for more about residents’ opinions.