The first class of family medicine residents began working at CHI Franciscan’s Bremerton facility this month, an initiative designed to train future family physicians and, in the immediate term, increase capacity for family medicine across the Kitsap Peninsula.

Eight students began their residencies in this cycle. Eight more will join each of the next two years for 24 total by July 2020, according to a news release. The inaugural class will complete their terms the following June.

“This comprehensive, community-based training enables physicians to care for the whole person over a lifetime,” Dr. Michael Watson, the founding program director, said in a statement. “Our goal is to train people who care for everyone, and we know that if we embed them into the community, it makes it easier for them to slip into practice here and stay long term.”

Residents will be based at Harrison Medical Center in East Bremerton; they will relocate to a new outpatient clinic across town when it opens in 2020, according to the release.

The family medicine program, which CHI Franciscan calls “community-based,” will train residents across divisions from cardiology and endocrinology to sports medicine and substance abuse. The new hires will work both in an outpatient clinic and make rounds at Harrison Medical Center.

Two of the eight residents are Washington-based, while a third, Jacob Van Fleet, was born in a Bremerton hospital, according to the release.

The new program coincides with larger expansion efforts by the Tacoma-based health system, which is investing $500 million to expand a Silverdale facility, plus the outpatient clinic in West Bremerton.

“It is our pleasure to welcome the inaugural class of medical residents to our program,” said David Schultz, CHI’s peninsula region market president. “Our residency program was designed to address the urgent need for primary care on the peninsula. I am confident we will train the next generation of outstanding primary care physicians to meet our growing community’s needs.”