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Selma Native Returns to Finish Physician Training


SELMA – A teacher can have a huge impact on a student’s life. Dr. Rachel Goerzen credits her Selma High School biology teacher, Eva Peña, for encouraging her to pursue a career in medicine.

Peña’s guidance led Dr. Goerzen to earn her medical degree fromLincoln Memorial University – DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine in Tennessee, where she was inducted to the Sigma Phi Honor Society for her volunteer work and good grades. She could have trained anywhere in the nation, but Dr. Goerzen chose to return to Selma to complete her residency.

“This is home to me,” Dr. Goerzen said. “I love the Central Valley, and we need more physicians here. When Mrs. Peña brought up the option of becoming a physician [in high school], I had never considered that. It seemed like a pretty big thing to pursue, but she encouraged me to go with it and now I’m here!”

The Selma Family Medicine Residency is helping to train more doctors while expanding the local community’s access to health care. Residents see patients under the guidance of local physician faculty members at Adventist Health / Community Care - Selma and Adventist Medical Center - Selma.

The residency program is affiliated with University of California, San Francisco-Fresno. At the hospital, the residents take call and serve as first assists on surgeries and C-sections while learning from a faculty made up of local general practitioners and specialists.

In addition to Selma native Dr. Rachel Goerzen, Dr. Erica Delsman of Oregon and Dr. Melanie Southard of Michigan also began their three years of residency training in Selma this summer.

The new residents said they were attracted to the Selma program’s rural medicine and obstetric emphasis and the area’s critical need for family physicians.

Growing up as the sixth generation on her family farm near Portland, Ore., Dr. Erica Delsman chose to complete residency training in Selma because she always wanted to serve in underserved areas similar to her hometown. Before coming to Selma, Dr. Delsman traveled abroad to work in missionary clinics in Peru, Ecuador and India. She earned her medical degree from Boston University.

Dr. Melanie Southard of mid-west Michigan was drawn to Selma’s diverse Latino population and the close-knit sense of community, she said. Dr. Southard received her medical degree from Touro University of Osteopathic Medicine in Vallejo, Calif. During her time there, she participated in a year-long pilot program on health literacy, which is designed to teach patients how to make informed decisions about their health care.

The residency is located at 1041 Rose Ave., next to Adventist Medical Center - Selma. The phone number is (559) 891-6345.