About PTHA’s Residency Program

Designated Institutional Officer (DIO) Welcome

haʔł sləx̌il (Good day) in Twulshootseed, the local dialect spoken by Salish speaking people.

My name is Minaq, I am Yupik, from southwest Alaska.  My English name is William Chythlook, I was born and raised in Aleknagik, Alaska to my parents and grandparents who are originally from the Bristol Bay region.  I want to thank you for visiting the PTHA FMR site and we hope that this means you share in our interest to enhance the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives in a culturally appropriate way!

The PTHA FMR is honored to be hosted by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, historically known amongst Salish tribes, as the spuyaləpabš, “generous and welcoming behavior to all people (friends and strangers) who enter their lands.”  The Puyallup Tribe of Indians have lived and thrived in the shadow of the mother of the land, Mount Tahoma, for thousands of years.  Living off the gifts supplied by Her, the salmon that swam in her rivers, the wild game, berries that thrived under the cedar trees which were also used to build homes, tools and canoes for transportation.

The Puyallup Tribal Health Authority Family Medicine Residency was the first family medicine residency, in 2011, to gain accreditation under a host nation on tribal land.  The PTHA FMR started as an AOA only residency and opened its doors to welcome the first class in 2012. The PTHA FMR then added ACMGE accreditation in 2018. PTHA FMR just graduated our sixth class in 2020.

At the PTHA FMR, our mission is to prepare our graduates to find a rural Native community where they can provide full spectrum of care for the entire community in a culturally appropriate way.  Our curriculum is designed to teach the residents all of the aspects of the traditional medicine wheel. and will challenge and prepare our residents in all aspects; mentally (east), emotionally, (south), physically (west), spiritually (north) of traditional native medicine.  The goal is to train our residents to find their higher self which will allow them to provide emergency medical care, inpatient medical management, labor and delivery management and also locate their balanced middle which will allow them to immerse themselves in and treat the entire community in a culturally appropriate way.

Our faculty and residents work side by side treating a full spectrum of patients at Takopid, our primary care clinic site on the Puyallup Tribe of Indians land. We collectively care for a very geographically diverse Native population who collectively represent about 230 of the 550+ recognized tribal entities in the United States in all stages of life, from birth until death at Takopid, and that care continues in a wide variety of outpatient and inpatient settings.  Our residents also have the opportunity to experience the care of American Indian and Alaska Native patients in a variety of rural and urban Indian Health care centers across the United States.

We are excited that you have taken the time to look at our program and hope that we get a chance to share with you our passion for advancing Native health not only here in the shadow of Mount Tahoma, but all across Indian Country.

ʔəsk'ʷədiitubułəd čəd (I am grateful for you)

Quyana, (Thank you)

William (Minaq) Chythlook
Residency Program Director

Puyallup Tribal Health Authority Family Medicine Residency Program

PTHA Family Medicine Residency Program Mission and Vision

Our mission as a Family Medicine Residency with Osteopathic Recognition is to provide full-spectrum, high quality education with exceptional faculty who promote wellness and culturally appropriate care in a community-based, supportive environment. We strive to be integrative and teach strategies for working with Native American Traditional Medicine approaches to prepare our residents to care for underserved Native communities.

Program and Clinic History

Puyallup Tribal Health Authority is the health care division of the Puyallup Tribe, located in Pierce County in Tacoma, Washington. PTHA is considered an urban underserved tribal clinic, and serves all eligible Native Americans from any North American tribe living within Pierce County. PTHA was the first tribal clinic in the United States to enter into a “638 Self-Determination” contract with Indian Health Services, meaning the tribe is responsible for running its own medical program. Since its founding, PTHA has grown to offer mental health, substance abuse treatment, dental services and podiatric treatment as well, alongside an onsite pharmacy and medical laboratory.

PTHA created the country’s first tribal AOA family medicine residency program back in July of 2011, and received the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education accreditation in July 1st 2018. We accept applications from both osteopathic (DO) and allopathic trainees (MD).

Here at PTHA, you will experience a cultural, traditional, and welcoming family environment. The Puyallup Tribe is well known for its hospitality and welcomes anyone who comes to visit and work for their members and on their lands. You will learn how to interact with a unique group of peoples, those of Native American descent who come from all backgrounds. You will be exposed to traditional Native Medicine, and offered specific education on cultural practices for different tribes. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work for and learn from tribal patients and colleagues in our Family Medicine Residency Program. We are driven to help develop the best health care providers for Native Peoples. We strive to bring awareness of the health disparities in tribal communities, empower our residents to help address them, and to create sustaining bonds between generations of residents and patients alike.

Our Facilities

Residents at PTHA train primarily at two core sites (MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital and the Takopid Clinic), as well as rural training at Indian Health Services Sites across WWAMI regions. Obstetric training in the first year of training occurs at both Tacoma General and in Auburn, WA. Opportunities for rural electives are available as well.

Our Patients

While PTHA was founded and is maintained by the Puyallup Tribe, we welcome all eligible Native Americans of any age to receive care at our clinic. About 30% of patients are Puyallup, but over 200 tribes are represented in our patient population. Residents will work with these patients in our Takopid building, as well as at Tacoma General Hospital. In the hospital you will care not only for Native patients but also those from the greater Tacoma community, serving both adults and children (at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital). Patients come from all walks of life, and across the spectrum of health.