Many outstanding residents applied for the 2015 The Right Fit H.E.R.O. Honorarium. Now, Medelita is proud to share this impressive group of finalists determined by votes on our website and via social media. The diversity, talent, and passion of these candidates is truly inspiring. On May 12th, our panel of judges will award $25,000 to one of these physicians to honor their hard work and exceptional service to their community.
Dr. Aaron Laviana, a urology resident at UCLA, goes the extra mile when it comes to patient care. Noting that without extensive ancillary staff at many hospitals, patients have difficulty contacting providers and maneuvering the system. To correct this, Dr. Laviana often visits with patients long after his assigned responsibility to them has ended, taking a hands-on role in their recovery. Dr. Laviana corresponds by email and calls every discharged patient to help alleviate their anxieties about post-hospital progress and to address any unforeseen complications.
Dr. Maryam Afshar is a dermatology resident at UC San Diego whose commitment to healthcare combines volunteerism and research. She has authored 16 scientific publications and four book chapters, received nine research and training grants, and presented her work around the world at over 20 scientific meetings. As a volunteer in Kenya, Dr. Afshar joined a team of doctors providing health and dermatological care for rural patients without access to healthcare, medications, or basic infrastructure. Her other volunteer efforts include the UC San Diego student-run free clinic and assistance at a local homeless shelter.
Dr. Meghan Berkenstock, an ophthalmology resident at Drexel University, has embraced physician advocacy, striving to help patients gain access to medications and obtain medical care despite the ability to pay. She received a grant to start health care screening in the underserved neighborhoods near her Philadelphia campus while finding time to write a peer reviewed accepted paper and others accepted at ARVO. Observing clinical trends, Dr. Berkenstock identified an outbreak of interferon-associated retinopathy by reviewing over 200 charts of patients treated with interferon. Her work earned her first prize for clinical research at Drexel Discovery Day in 2013.
Dr. Jonathan Santoro is a pediatric neurology resident at Stanford University who attended medical school at Tulane University, learning medicine in a rebuilding system stripped of its resources in the wake of hurricane Katrina. Dr. Santoro encountered patients with cerebral palsy and other neurologic problems in free student-run clinics in the city of New Orleans. This made him aware of the nation’s shortage of pediatric neurologists and the intense need for patient advocacy among the medically complex. He lobbied the American Academy of Neurology to send him to Washington DC as part of a “Neurology on the Hill” program. There, Dr. Santoro asked members of congress to increase neurologic research funding through the Brain Initiative.
Dr. Maddy Artunduaga, a native of Colombia, is a radiology resident at Baylor College of Medicine who hopes to use her training in the U.S. to help improve the quality of care in her home country. She is currently co-leading a global health effort within RAD-AID International to bring improved diagnostic tools and other equipment to regions in need throughout South America. Dr. Artunduaga is also designing continuing education and workforce training modules in pediatric radiology for fellow trainees in Colombia. Additionally, she serves as a mentor to medical students from several Latin American countries and administers an online research forum for international medical graduates.
Dr. Noah Rosenberg is a family medicine resident at UMASS Worcester who has traveled to Nicaragua four times as a member of his residency’s longitudinal global health track. He was the student body co-president during medical school, president of his school’s chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha, and is now chief resident. Dr. Rosenberg is the Chief Information Officer for a patient safety-focused nonprofit organization and is the recipient of a National Patient Safety Award. He also volunteered with the Clinton Global Initiative to help college students impact their communities in work totaling over $200,000 of goods and services provided.
Dr. Jerry Abraham remains committed to public policy matters while completing his family medicine residency at USC California Hospital Medical Center. He holds an M.P.H that he intends to use developing policy on health care and helping communities navigate the landscape of medical services and products. Dr. Abraham serves on the California Medical Association Board of Trustees and is an AAFP delegate to the AMA Resident and Fellow Section, and a delegate to the Committee of Interns and Residents. He created a leadership track in his residency program to encourage others to become more active in local and state politics and leadership in medicine.
Dr. Misty Richards is a psychiatric resident at UCLA with a global perspective on health care. She started a medical clinic in Uganda during her second year at Albany Medical College and then served as a board member for the clinic throughout her medical school training. Dr. Richards has research experience at the National Institute of Mental Health and performed research on schizophrenia in Japan as the focus of her Fulbright Scholarship. As the former president of the American Medical Women’s Association, Dr. Richards takes special interest in women’s health and plans to devote her medical career to this arena.
Dr. Peter Cooch’s pediatrics residency at UC San Francisco is within the “Pediatric Leadership for the Underserved” track. He uses his experience working in Guatemala and interest in policy and community engagement to increase awareness and advocacy for the plight of unaccompanied minors from Central America placed within the U.S. He recently authored a resolution statement on increasing mental and legal support to these children. This resolution was chosen by the American Academy of Pediatrics as its number one resolution of the year. Dr. Cooch is also working to develop a program for family reunification therapy for these children.
Dr. Robert Rice is a cardiothoracic surgery resident at the University of Texas and a Major in the U.S. Army. He spent seven months on a tour to Afghanistan as a trauma surgeon during Operation Enduring Freedom. He worked alongside other medical personnel that provided care in a small forward operating base on the Pakistan border. For the past two years, Dr. Rice also volunteered for the mission trip to Bolivia, providing surgery and life-saving procedures to many infants and children. All of this time abroad and service to patients at home have cemented Dr. Rice’s commitment to his specialty.
We invite you to visit the nominee profiles on our website //www.medelita.com/therightfit/hero/meet-the-hero-candidates-2015/. Please show support for these candidates via social media voting and stay tuned! There will be more updates and news as we approach the exciting May 12th announcement of the contest winner. One lucky resident will be selected to receive a $25,000 honorarium.