Highlighting the Heroes: Georgetown Grad Up for $25K Award

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

Medelita The Right Fit

Lawrence “Mark” Knab

Northwestern University/Northwestern Memorial Hospital – Chicago, IL

While there were many memorable experiences at Georgetown University Medical School, there is one that seems imprinted on Mark’s training as a physician. It took place during his first year anatomy class while working with cadavers. When Mark saw the face of his first cadaver, he was struck with something rather profound. Though having meticulously dissected different regions of the body for months, discovering first-hand the intricate details and wonders of the human body, he had not seen her face. The day that dissection included the face, it was a strange collision of worlds in which the anatomical basis for human life through anatomy became alive again in seeing her face and imagining what she was like. This important lesson ingrained in him the ideal of always approaching a patient first as a human being, not simply an anatomical specimen with a disease.

The general surgery program at Northwestern University provides a rigorous academic training in surgery while providing an environment conducive to teamwork and collaboration. The most overwhelming factor that drew Mark to the program was simply what he saw in the current residents. They seemed to legitimately care for and have a vested interest in their patients. Residency for them was not just a job where they spent the majority of their time but something they enjoyed doing.

From the first time Mark observed an open heart surgery as a high school student, he knew that medicine was a field that would allow him to really impact a person’s life in a special and unique way. The idea of cutting into a person to rearrange their anatomy, which was in this case supplying blood flow back to the heart, was a true inspiration both then and even now when he scrubs into a case. It provides him with the opportunity to help others in a tangible, acute way with the hope of alleviating or preventing suffering of some kind.

The most significant sacrifice Mark has made to earn his medical degree, which has continued through his residency, is time spent away from family and loved ones. While helping others in this unique way is incredibly gratifying, it requires an immense time commitment that is costly. Those in Mark’s personal life have had to be very understanding and patient to allow Mark to become the surgeon he dreams of being.

Vote for Mark here.

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Highlighting the Heroes: Rush University Grad Up for $25K Award

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

Medelita The Right FitKushal Nandam

The Ohio State University Combined Internal Medicine/Emergency Medicine Program / Columbus, OH – Chicago, IL

Kushal Nandam, attends Rush Medical College. He says the best part of going to school at Rush was that much of clinical training was at Cook County Hospital, the premier non-government hospital of Chicago that cares for the undeserved population with no insurance or poor health insurance coverage.

Kushal always feels like he could make an immense difference by taking care of patients at Cook County hospital. The people he interacted with were not only medically complicated, but also socially complicated patients. Many of these patients in these cases had nowhere else to turn to. Many of them were homeless, had drug problems, or were struggling to raise their children in single parent households on a minimum wage job. Kusahal said he was able to make a difference because he went out of his way to help them on a path to quit using hard drugs, finding the right social workers to find placement in shelters and rehab for work. The gratitude he received from seeing the difference he makes in these people’s lives is the motivation that keeps him going through his training; it also fuels him to make a difference in the healthcare system.

Kushal matched at The Ohio State University Combined Internal Medicine & Emergency Medicine program and he will receive dual training in both specialties. This very competitive training program is an ambitious undertaking and self-sacrifice he has made to pursue his final goals. The dual training program adds an additional 2 years of training compared to EM or IM training programs alone, without the promise of any additional payout in the future that other specialties would have provided with a fellowship program.

Kushal chose this specialty because of his insatiable thirst for knowledge. He wants to have the ability to take care of anyone at anytime along their spectrum of illness, whether it was an acute exacerbation or managing critically ill patients. With this training he will be a valuable doctor to partake in medical mission trips abroad that he greatly aspires to in the future.

Additionally, he chose this training because he wants to change the broken healthcare system. This dual training encompasses the major fields of exposure to the healthcare world: The ER, the outpatient clinics, and critically ill patients in the hospital. He says that this training will allow him to witness where things can be improved upon and what parts of the hospital system need to be completely replaced. Additionally, this training program gears its residents to leadership positions within hospitals, which allows for greater opportunities to change how the hospital system is run.

While at Ohio State, Kushal will also have the fortunate opportunity to take classes, in addition to his residency duties, to pursue a Masters in Public Health. It is a unique offer by the program. Kushal sees this as an immense asset to his training, as well as with his Bacherlor’s degree in Economics, to improve the healthcare system through public policy. Being in Columbus, the state capital, he will have direct opportunity to interact with legislatures during his training years to work on policy or make recommendations to policy as well.

Kushal had a number of influences that contributed to his dedication to pursue medicine. However, it was his community service work while he went to college in St. Louis that fueled his passion to not only purse medicine, but change how medicine can help his community. He volunteered in Big Brothers and Big Sisters for four years providing support as a role model and tutoring for the under-served kids in the inner city schools.

Kushal also volunteered at an HIV clinic while in college where he saw the stark contrast of health services available for the lower socioeconomic class. Many of these people in the afflicted with HIV were ostracized by their families or communities because of their condition or sexual orientation. Because they were shunned, it was difficult to find work or find support or even proper medical care. This lack of access to resources and healthcare stuck with Kushal and made him vow to pursue medicine with the idea to serve those who needed healthcare the most.

Kushal had to make much personal sacrifice on his journey to getting his medical degree, but the number one thing he sacrificed was the family time he cherished so much. He is someone who goes out of his way to not only spend time with his immediate family as much as he can, but also makes sure to keep a bond with his extended family. The intense schedule of medical school has had him sacrifice seeing his parents as often as he would have liked. He is also very close to his brother and has not been able to spend the time he normally would have given him. He had to miss numerous holiday gatherings with the family as well as family religious events that he normally partakes in. Despite having to miss his family more because of the rigorous training, he does a tremendous job in making sure he is connected with his family and let’s us know that we are always on his mind.

Vote for Kushal here.

If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.

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Highlighting the Heroes: University of Illinois Chicago Grad Up for $25K Award

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

Medelita the right fit

Ramu (Ramakrishna) Gumidyala

University of Wisconsin-Madison – Fitchburg, WI

Ramu went to University of Illinois at Chicago’s medical school. He was enrolled in the prestigious GPPA program, which is an undergraduate and medical school program to which he was accepted after high school. An experience that he still talks about from his time there, was his role as a student event organizer for the The Student Sight Savers Program, which offered glaucoma and vision screening to the underprivileged in Chicago. He got a taste for what it was like to help those that needed it. For the first time, he understood what it felt like to truly to help someone with the knowledge he had gained in his time in medical school.

Ramu has actually graduated from an Internal Medicine residency program from UW-Madison already. He originally thought he would go into G.I., but realized that was not “the right fit” for him. Ramu understands that not every field in medicine is the same and that you must truly suit your specialty. He found that anesthesiology had all of the nuances that he wanted to see in his field. He thinks that each surgery in which he assists is fascinating and finds it very humbling to have each patient trust him with his/her life.

Ramu has always been good at math and science, but I actually don’t think he could really wrap his head around why he wanted to be a doctor until he was able to volunteer in college and then again in medical school. He thinks that there are so many changes that can be made in the medical field and he is excited to be a part of the generation that gets to help bring about this change.

Ramu sacrificed three years in order to pursue the field of anesthesiology. It is not easy for one to go back and re-enter a residency program after already completing one. He knew he had to do something he was passionate about – and he found that in anesthesiology. He knew all of his friends would already be practicing by the time he was finishing his final residency (especially since he wants to do a fellowship afterward), yet he still persevered through an entire second program.

Vote for Ramu here.

If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.

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Highlighting the Heroes: USUHS Grad Up for $25K Award

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

RobertRiceRobert Rice

MD Anderson Cardiothoracic Surgery/Houston, Texas – Houston, TX

Robert had the opportunity to attend the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD, where he was enlightened to the prospect of surgery during a talk given by Dr. William DeVries about implantation of the Jarvik-7 artificial heart. He then sought out extra opportunities to gain exposure to surgery and participated in multiple research endeavors.

Rob was destined for cardiothoracic surgery. He is well matched for the technically demanding requirements of this field of surgery. Additionally, he is perpetually working to hone his skills and knowledge base for the good of the patient. His bedside manner and collegial attitude is well recognized amongst the staff.

Rob is an incredible person and an outstanding resident. After nearly 13 years of involvement in CT surgery, I believe Rob ranks in the top 0.1% of his peers and colleagues around the country – bar none. He is collegial, professional, and extremely helpful. He is articulate and very seasoned individual who fits well in any team he participates in. He is a natural leader and always seeks out additional opportunities for leadership and further personal development.

All it takes is a brief interaction with Rob and it’s clear you’re dealing with someone special. It is not uncommon that former/current patients stop Robert Rice in the hallway to offer their heartfelt gratitude for all his services. I can personally attest that he is a person of unquestioned trustworthiness, integrity, and honest. Simply being around Rob is a “shot in the arm” for anyone with whom he comes in contact.

Rob’s ambition is obvious, complemented by a strong thirst for knowledge, an eagerness to learn, and a tireless work ethic. He is surgeon of the highest order and we need more physicians like him with an unwavering commitment to patient care, teaching, and research. He is an extremely ambitious, always eager to learn and never afraid of working hard.

Robert has made several personal and family sacrifices along his path to enter cardiothoracic surgery training. Noteworthy is his commitment to serve in the armed forces and deliver cutting edge care to people who are defending this country. Robert as ascended to the rank of Major in the US Army. He is proud of his ability to have served his country in providing cardiac and thoracic care to America’s heroes.

Vote for Robert here.

If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.

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Highlighting the Heroes: University of California Grad Up for $25K

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

Medical School Debt

Victoria Ward

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital/ Palo Alto California – Palo Alto, CA

Dr. Victoria Ward graduated from the University of California , San Francisco Medical School. Prior to and during medical school, she worked for multiple non-profits and philanthropic foundations, focused primarily on global health, with a particular interest in fighting human trafficking.

Victoria has a fantastic knowledge base; she is bright with a wonderful work ethic. Her nominator called her

“one of the most caring and compassionate residents our hospital has ever had. Her follow-through is exceptional.”

Victoria has been especially superb on the very intense Gastroenterology and Liver Transplant service. She has taken meticulous care of her patients at all levels– PL1, PL2,and PL3, always going the “extra mile” for her patients. Dr. Ward even contacted the teachers at one 22 year old patient’s junior college to make sure they knew she was in the hospital(The patient did not want the school to know why and Dr. Ward kept that info private). The patient has short bowel syndrome and had lost a lot of weight and required an extensive redo of her parenteral nutrition regimen.The teachers were very helpful and understanding, to the great relief of the patient.

Victoria is such a skilled physician that her goal is now to be a hospitalist; she thrives dealing with the most complex cases imaginable. Positive feedback by her faculty caring for those extremely labor intensive and complex patients have fueled her interest in medicine and in her becoming a hospitalist.

Victoria made a major sacrifice by delaying medical training while she worked fighting human trafficking.

Vote for Victoria here.

If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.

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Highlighting the Heroes: USUHS Grad Up for $25K Award

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

Medelita HERO Award

Elizabeth Miller

William Beaumont Army Medical Center, General Surgery Residency Program, El Paso, TX – El Paso, TX

Dr. Miller attended the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, Maryland and is now in a U.S. Army residency program as an active duty Army Officer. USUHS was memorable to her as it is a military medical school. While they study the same subjects as civilian medical schools, the learning environment is also designed to guide students into becoming military physicians. Dr. Miller thought the field exercises were ‘way too much fun to be allowed in a serious learning environment.’

When she rotated in General Surgery at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, she realized that she had “found her people;” their attitudes and goals matched hers. She enjoyed the more obvious and instantaneous solutions to medical conditions. If she had to choose again, she states that she would place WBAMC first choice every time. The residents act like a family and the staff are highly committed to resident education.

For Dr. Miller, there was no one great moment that lead her to medicine. As she completed her undergraduate education, she shadowed physicians and volunteered at a local ER while in college. She realized the medical community was where she was happiest.

While still a medical student at USUHS, she met her husband, who was in the Army (at that time she was in the Air Force). In order to marry, she decided to switch services and join the Army – cross from blue to green. However, this meant she had to spend an additional training year as a transitional intern with no guarantee of acceptance into a surgical residency. Now that she is a surgical intern, she realizes the extra year was well worth it. She states that she enjoys surgery, loves her husband, is thrilled to be a part of the Army, and believes the experiences required to get where she is today have made her a better person.

Vote for Elizabeth here.

If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.

 

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Highlighting the Heroes: Robert Wood Johnston Grad Up for $25K Award

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

Medical School Debt

Christopher Bryczkowski

Rutgers – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School / New Brunswick, NJ – Bridgewater, NJ

Chris graduated from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) in the class of 2010.  He will always be remembered for three reasons: first, he was the guy who people went to for help when they needed technical support – from troubleshooting networks and upgrading computer memory to manually disassembling, fixing and reassembling electronics. He even took on the job of “Quality Control and Infrastructure Director” at the Urban Health Initiative Adult HOP student run clinic.

Secondly, Chris is fluent in Polish. He was in one of the last classes who had the chance to do clinical rotations in south Jersey at Cooper Hospital. There were many occasions during his rotations where Chris would spend extra time at the hospital to help translate for Polish patients. On one occasion Chris spoke with doctors in Warsaw and helped make arrangements to have his patient flown back home to Poland to be with his family.

The third reason Chris will be remembered during medical school has to do with his competitive nature. He won a nutrition competition for giving the “best presentation,” he placed in the top 3 for fundraising during a week long telethon for the alumni association, and he won the annual “Ping-Pong Championship” two years in a row.

Chris is an Emergency Medicine (EM) resident at Rutgers – RWJMS. EM is the perfect profession for Chris since it allows him to work with patients across the spectrum of medicine. He uses his problem solving skills to help diagnose patients on a daily basis. Chris decided to extend his EM training for an additional year to pursue an Emergency Ultrasound Fellowship under the mentorship of Rajesh Geria, MD at Rutgers – RWJMS. It is the perfect specialty for Chris. He is responsible for troubleshooting the ultrasound equipment, teaching residents and medical students, and advancing the field of emergency ultrasound through academic research. The fellowship has also provided Chris the freedom to work with medical students at his alma mater where he helped set up an Ultrasound interest group.

When I asked Chris what his motivation was to build a career in medicine, he told me about his childhood. Chris was born in Warsaw, Poland in the 1980′s. He remembers growing up at a time when many families, including his own, had to stand in line for a portioned amounts of meat and dairy products. Common items we take for granted, such as toothpaste, were difficult, if not impossible, to buy. The level of healthcare in Poland never quite made it up to par in the aftermath of World War II. During elementary school he spent time at his grandparents’ apartment helping his grandfather change various dressings on his great grandmother. Sadly, she required such care due to several medical problems she sustained while spending years in a concentration camp in Siberia. This exposure to medicine at such a young age left a lasting impact on him and was his greatest motivation to enter medicine. Shortly after his eighth birthday Chris and his mother vacationed to the United States to visit an aunt. They were so impressed with the conditions that they decided to stay permanently and were followed by his father a few years later.

During his four years in medical school earning his MD, Chris had to sacrifice life outside the hospital. There were many times when he missed family gatherings, graduation parties, and various other celebrations because of the demanding schedule of exams and obligations during clinical rotations. Beyond that, Chris donated a large portion of his free time to the Adult HOP clinic where he helped provide free medical care for the uninsured patients in the city of Camden.

Vote for Christopher here.

If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.

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Highlighting the Heroes: Harvard Medical Grad Up for $25K Award

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

medical residency award

Meera Kotagal

University of Washington, General Surgery – Seattle, WA

Meera took an extra year in medical school and spent that year volunteering with Partners In Health in rural Rwanda. She states,

“I had the tremendous opportunity to work alongside nurses providing care at a health center for 20,000 people in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. I learned from them, and from our patients. I had always thought I wanted to pursue a career in global health, but this year confirmed for me how much I love this work. I love the patients, the challenges, and the joys of small successes. I was tremendously lucky that Harvard let me take a year to pursue my dream job.”

Dr. Kotagal knew that she wanted to pursue an academic career in global surgery – eventually helping to develop infrastructure, build capacity, and provide surgical care in resource-limited settings. She also wanted to be well-trained in a broad set of general surgical skills. Dr. Kotagal says,

“The University of Washington provides exceptional training — both in clinical care and technical skills. This training will allow me to be comfortable taking care of patients in a setting where I may be the only surgeon for miles, without a senior partner to call on for advice. This broad-based training and the opportunity to pursue research in global surgery as part of the Global Health in Academic Surgery Fellowship Track made the University of Washington “the right fit” for me.”

It was always clear that Meera wanted to build a career in medicine so that she could spend her life serving those less fortunate than herself; not only are is this what Meera says, it is evidenced by her years of actions in this regard prior to attending to the University of Washington. She is someone who ‘walks her talk’ and had done so for a long time.

Meera says

“Providing health care in settings where people often don’t have access to quality services — and working with the providers there to build local capacity and infrastructure — is my passion. I am not sure if I can point to one single incident that made me want to pursue a career in medicine — but I think spending time in resource-limited settings and seeing people die for lack of access to care continues to drive and inspire me. Just recently, on this trip to Rwanda, I met a 7 month old little boy. He is an orphan, and is being taken care of by another person from his village in rural northwestern Rwanda.

For about a month, he had some swelling of his neck, and over the past week he developed some trouble breathing. His breathing finally go so bad that his caregiver brought him to the hospital in Kigali for care. The provider who saw him wanted to get a CT scan of his neck to understand what was happening, but the caregiver couldn’t afford to pay for one. Overnight, while waiting to figure out a solution to figure out how to pay for the necessary tests, the child decompensated. His breathing got progressively worse such that he was barely breathing when I saw him the next morning. By some miracle — and a lot of hard work from individual providers — we were able to get him intubated and into an OR to drain the retropharyngeal abscess he had that had rapidly progressed overnight. He was lucky, and so were we. Many children aren’t so lucky — and trying to make sure that other children get the care they need is what I want to spend my career working on.”

Dr. Kotagal was fortunate to be raised with a strongly supportive network of family and friends. She says

“This is a tough one for me. I am not sure I have really had to make many sacrifices in my career to get an MD. I was lucky to be well-supported by family and friends, and really, going to medical school was a dream for me. The only thing that ever feels like a sacrifice for me is that by pursuing surgical training that is long, I am further away from the work I really want to be doing (global surgery). I know that that is key for me to have the skills I need to be useful in resource-limited settings, but not being able to be in Rwanda, or Haiti, helping to provide care sometimes feels like a sacrifice. But that’s not really about a sacrifice to get my degree.”

Meera Kotagal lives every day of her life as a personal sacrifice by extending herself to give to others. Extra kindness to a patient or thinking of ways to make the world a better place in countless ways is built into her genome. She is tireless and relentless in her pursuit to give and improve her world.

Vote for Meera here.

If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.

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Highlighting the Heroes: University of Miami Grad Up for $25K Award

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

H.E.R.O. Award

Dyani Loo,MD

Psychiatry, New Mexico – Albuquerque, NM

Miami’s warm globally-oriented climate is embedded in the personality of the UM family, its faculty and its diverse residents. That spirit instilled in her during medical school helped her develop a passion for addressing health care access and mental health in needy areas around the world and learning how to empower disenfranchised populations. When she told faculty that she wanted to design a community-based research project in rural areas of Colombia where no prior health studies/outreach had been done, faculty supported her even though at times this seemed logistically impossible. By taking things step by step to learn the necessary skills and the initiative do work in places overlooked, step by step, she was able to carry out service/research projects in Colombia as well as Peru, and Uganda as a medical student.

New Mexico is the perfect place for her to flourish and learn psychiatry. NM as a state consistently ranks #1 in the nation for substance related deaths and the need for passionate psychiatrists interested in pushing new ideas to improve access, outreach, education, and to reduce stigma is immense. NM’s program, being the only psychiatry program in the state, has an enormous catchment area, and specializes in rural and telepsychiatry. She is part of a rural track in which she will be able to pursue her interest in community-based research and as a first year intern in her spare time, she has started doing an outreach project in an off-grid migrant settlement outside of Albuquerque. Currently the community has no access to water, viable roads or entitled city services. Dr. Loo is working alongside community members to address health needs and empower residents through action oriented focus groups.

Prior to medical school, Dr. Loo worked at a residential facility for adults with schizophrenia. When she interviewed for that job, for the final interview the program director took her to the complex and let the patients interview her to see if it would be a good fit. She remembers playing basketball with them; it was a sunny day and afterward, everyone was sitting on a picnic bench blasting Jimi Hendrix and making jokes. Everyone deserves happy, sunny moments. And not everyone gets them due to chronic mental illness, substance use, poverty, discrimination, oppression, trauma, war. By going back to school to try and become a leader in psychiatry, she realized that she could work on learning skills to address individual and systemic changes to increase the length and frequency of those fleeting breakthrough moments for people in most need of them.

Everyone who enters medical school makes a sacrifice of hard work for years of sleepless nights, but she notes that this is a small sacrifice when inspired by the hardworking men and women that she has met abroad, all working to make change and care for their families in some of the most remote parts of the world. Being the first doctor in her family, she plans on using her education to continue working hard to help others have opportunities.

Vote for Dyani here.

If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.

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Highlighting the Heroes: St. George’s University Grad Up for $25K Award

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

Christine Garcia

Dr. Christine Ann Garcia

Stony Brook University. Stony Brook, NY – Port Jefferson, NY

Christine received her Master in Public Health in 2005 and began her career with the County of San Diego Health & Human Services in California. Confronted with complex health issues, such as improving access to health care and controlling infectious disease, Christine gained first-hand experience helping communities in San Diego with limited resources and funding.

Because Christine did not attend medical school immediately after college and, instead, took several years to explore public health, work with a diverse group of specialists focused on improving public health, and teach English to elementary school students in Italy, Christine’s decision to attend medical school was a focused, mature, and memorable decision.

Miles away from anyone or anything that Christine knew, and several years older than the “traditional” medical student, attending medical school at St. George’s University in Grenada, West Indies for Christine often felt like participating on the reality show, “Survivor.” Braving unknown territories and seeking allies amongst strangers, Christine found strength in knowing that she was following a circuitous route to her childhood dreams of becoming a doctor.

In time, Christine grew accustomed to living on the island. It became second nature to drive on the opposite side of the road, brake for crossing goats, and avoid crab holes in the ground while walking home. She met extraordinary future physicians along the way and developed friendships with similar strong-minded individuals who sacrificed first world luxuries to pursue dreams of becoming doctors. Christine found life-long friends and became the “mom” of her surrogate family. She plucked the feathers out of a turkey to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner, Caribbean-style and tended to friends’ injuries from intramural sports. Medical school in the Caribbean was one of the greatest experiences in her life for the amazing academic training she received, but also for the learning lessons that Christine gained as a “Survivor” on the Caribbean island.

Stony Brook Medicine is “The Right Fit” for Christine because it is a dynamic, forward thinking program in an ever-changing medical education environment. It is at the forefront of improving medical education, focusing on high value, cost-effective care, clinical research and quality improvement. Christine’s program director and associate PDs are always open to new ideas and changes, making this program adaptable and personable to fit each residents’ needs. With strong support from the dean and chair of medicine, the program is proactive and progressive and continually improving. With fellowships in cardiology, GI, nephrology, pulmonary/critical care, hematology/oncology, and ID, residents have the option to rotate and participate in procedures from day 1. Residents are also able to serve on hospital-wide committees and help develop curriculum and program changes. Christine has received so much support from her colleagues with her research and publication that she was able to author several peer reviewed papers and poster presentations including:

Syncope as Initial Presentation of Kommerell’s Diverticulum. Cohen R, Garcia CA, Loarte P, Diaz L, Mirror B. International Journal of Angiology 2012. 21(2):111-116

Atrial Myxomas: A Case Presentation and Review. Cohen R, Singh G, Mena D, Mirrer B, Garcia CA. Journal of Cardiology Research 2012;3(1):41-44.

Electrocardiogram Manifestations in Hyperkalemia. Cohen R, Ramos R, Garcia CA , Mehmood S, Park Y, Divittis A, Mirrer B. World Journal of Cardiovascular Disease 2012;2:57-63.

Case Review: Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura. Cohen R, Garcia CA, Mena D, Castellanos M, Wu L. Journal of Medical Cases 2012; 3(2): 130-134.

Cavernous Transformation of Portal Vein: A Case Report. Cohen R, Ramos R, Shazad S, Park Y, Garcia CA. Journal of Clinical Medicine Research 2012; 4(1): 81-84.

Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia: A Case Presentation and Review. Cohen R, Castellano M, Garcia CA. Journal of Clinical Medicine Research 2012; 4(1):68-72.

Measles Outbreak in a Highly Vaccinated Population, San Diego, 2008: Role of the Intentionally Undervaccinated. Sugerman DE, Barskey AE, Delea MG, Ortega-Sanchez IR, Bi D, Ralston KJ, Rota PA, Waters-Montijo K, LeBaron CW. Pediatrics 2010. 125(4):747-755.

Stony Brook is also “The Right Fit” because of the amazing residents. Residency is tough but having great, supportive people to share your troubles seems to lighten the load. Residents become surrogate family, as you spend holidays together. During Hurricane Sandy and the numerous other hurricanes, many residents huddled together at home or in the hospital to brave the storms. They often get together at the end of rotations for team dinners and happy hours. They have also organized groups for volunteering in the community as medical teams at the marathon or at a soup kitchen. While the program itself is structured so well, the strength lies within its strong, capable residents.

Christine’s path to medicine has been a long and winding road with rough terrain and detours. Her decision to become a doctor was not triggered by one incident. Her humble beginnings as a child surgeon involved repairing detached limbs and performing “cataract surgery” on Monkey-Key, her most beloved stuffed animal. During high school Christine started working in hospice care, providing comfort and happiness to people at the end of their lives. That experience gave her a new perspective on medicine. During college, she worked part-time as an emergency room technician in a Chicago hospital and was exposed to patients who lacked the resources for preventative medical care. Christine found herself questioning whether becoming a physician really was the right path for her, and she soon concluded that it was not. Instead, Christine headed to graduate school and completed a Master’s degree in public health. Christine then set off on a journey to improve people’s lives through health education and prevention. Along the way, however, Christine became convinced that she could make a greater impact on the public’s health by combining her education and experiences with a degree in medicine. Christine resolved to go to medical school after all.

After three solid years working in public health, Christine moved into a small studio apartment in San Diego and studied every night after work to prepare for the MCAT. Christine abandoned a successful career in public health, a comfortable salary, and relaxed lifestyle, to attempt medical school as a second-career student. Studying basic sciences after 5 years away from college was not like riding a bike. Christine was out of practice and had much relearning to do. Finally, after enduring several interviews and waitlists, Christine accepted a spot at St. George’s University in Grenada, in the West Indies. In hindsight, medical school seems to have flown by, even though the first 2 years were not without pain and suffering. It was emotionally and physically draining at times. Living thousands of miles from her family and close friends during the most stressful experience of her life was rough and came with great sacrifice.

Christine completed core clerkships (psychiatry, internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics) at 4 different hospitals in Brooklyn. Most students at US medical schools do all of their cores at 1 clinical center, and initially she was not happy to be floating between different hospitals. However, Christine gradually recognized this as an advantage, as she was able to meet great people in each institution. Christine began research at one institution while simultaneously completing rotations at another. In her fourth year, Christine arranged her electives so she could go outside that network and broaden her knowledge and experience. In July 2012, she started residency at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Vote for Christine here.

If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.

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Highlighting the Heroes: Michigan State Grad Up for $25K Award

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

Medelita The Right Fit

Gwendolyn Reyes

Hurley Medical Center/Michigan State University – Flint, MI

Dr Reyes graduated with glowing honors from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. Her medical school experience was full of memorable service, leadership and academic experiences; however, the one factor that made her medical school experience so memorable was her very first clinical encounters with patients. Early in her medical training, she was struck by the trust that her patients had in her abilities. She felt privileged to have the trust of complete strangers; and from that moment on, she vowed to uphold the professional duties of being a physician and to continuously strive to be the best.

Like a hand in glove or a white coat on a doctor, Dr Reyes has found the “Right Fit” at Hurley Medical Center’s Pediatric Residency Program. Dr Reyes loves the small size of the program – this allows her to benefit from more one-on-one time with attendings. The program is also very accommodating and supportive, especially for trainees with young families.

Dr Reyes amazingly balances her residency schedule with two very small children – Raymond who is an active 4 year old and Lillian who is not even 1 (but she’s already walking!). Most importantly, the program is a “Right Fit” because Dr Reyes is practicing in a severely underserved community. We are grateful that our community has such a competent and caring physician that wants to work with this population during her training and throughout her career.

Dr Reyes is interested in a career in pediatrics because she values preventative medicine. She knows that she can make a huge impact on a child’s life through education, support and prevention! One of the most influential experiences that motivated Dr Reyes to go into pediatrics was working with Child Life – these are the professionals that play/distract kids during difficult health care moments. Dr Reyes often worked with children that were recovering from open heart surgery – they had multiple tubes in place and were on many medications. She was motivated to see how quickly these kids just wanted to get back to playing and how resilient they were after going through such a huge procedure.

Dr Reyes has over $300,000 in student loan debt. Her loan burden is astronomical. Her loans are exceptionally high because her son was born during medical school which required to her take additional loans to pay for child care. Understandably, due to this loan burden, her family has had to make a lot of personal sacrifices for her to earn her MD degree.

Vote for Gwendolyn here.

If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.

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Highlighting the Heroes: University of VA and Drexel Medicine Grad Up for $25K Award

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

 

medical school debt

Adam Lipman

University of Virginia – Opthalmology – Charlottesville, VA – Charlottesville, VA

From Dr. Lipman:

Drexel University Medical School was like no other experience I have had. It is truly a lifelong commitment to master the complexity of human anatomy, physiology, and pathology, and to compact this into 4 years is daunting. The friendships that I’ve made during this time of my life have been some of the strongest. I believe it is this camaraderie between classmates to see each other succeed under such duress that makes such an undertaking possible and for me has what made it memorable.”

“Ophthalmology residency at University of Virginia has been an exceptional experience and has exceeded all of my expectations. One unique aspect that fits to my learning style is the resident clinic, a continuity clinic that allows us as residents to establish and maintain relationships with patients throughout the three years of training. This has allowed me to better understand the course of eye conditions and follow how they improve with therapy. This has also prepared me for life outside of residency where the doctor-patient relationship becomes even more important.”

On why he entered medicine:

“For me, the decision to enter the field of medicine was not difficult. I have developed an image of what being a physician means ever since I was three and went in to surgery to have my tonsils and adenoids removed. It is the care and service that they provide to the community, and role they play in so many people’s lives that motivated my desire to become a physician. The fact that I came out of what could have been an extremely traumatic experience to a three year old with such a good feeling about medicine exemplifies the art of providing compassionate medical care.”

On his personal sacrifice:

“A commitment to spend the greater part of one’s 20’s buried in studies and learning medicine is something that is difficult to comprehend until you have turned 30 and realize that you will still be in training for another 3 years. That said, I would choose this path again in a heartbeat given the opportunity.”

Vote for Adam here.

If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.

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