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Resident Profiles

Sharjeel Hooda, MS, MD, PGY-3

Sharjeel Hooda, MS,MD

Medical School: Emory University School of Medicine

I had initially chosen the Cleveland Clinic for various reasons: a gut feeling, the results of a complicated algorithm developed to analyze fellowship matches, the opportunity to get a varied experience through the Center of Excellence VA track, the camaraderie I had witnessed on a second look, the world-renowned faculty that interacted with residents in the hospital and the lab, and the affordable, friendly city of Cleveland. My premonition of Lebron returning was, of course, also helpful.

Now approaching the end of residency, I know that my friends, who were just colleagues at the start, and I are developing into confident, thoughtful, compassionate caregivers and inquisitive, productive scholars. We have cared for the sickest patients in the world and learned from the best internists and subspecialists internationally. Our class has published articles and presented at conferences prolifically during the past two years. As part of the VA track, I have also served our nation’s veterans while developing unique skills in quality improvement and a competent, efficient, autonomous, humanistic outpatient practice.

Honestly, I could not ask for more from a residency program. Fortunately, Dr. Spencer and the current leadership have no ceiling for the program’s trajectory and continue to improve resident training on a daily basis.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my experience and I hope that this reflection helps you in your decision. Please enjoy your fourth year and choose a program where you feel a strong connection. If you have any questions about our program, or for your search in general, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Nancy Nguyen, MD, PGY-3

Nancy Nguyen, MD

Medical School: University of Southern California, Los Angeles

“What in the world are you doing here?” has generally been the initial response I receive once people find out that I was born and raised in California and now will call Cleveland my new home. In retrospect, on Match Day my feelings were extremely conflicted when I opened my envelope to reveal my fate for the next three years. I had received my top choice at Cleveland Clinic, training at a residency program that offers world-class care, but I would have to leave my friends and family and travel to the unknown of the Midwest.

Fast-forward as I enter my third year of residency, I realize that the risk I took three years ago to venture out of my comfort zone had paid off. I have survived training at a residency program taking care of some of the complicated and sickest patients in the nation and feel confident in my abilities moving forward to my next phase of training.

In terms of life outside the hospital walls, I have been pleasantly surprised and realized that Cleveland is quite possibly the most underrated city that exists. It offers a plethora of activities to help unwind from a stressful day at the hospital including extensive hiking trails at the Cleveland Metroparks, enjoying a sports event at an Indians, Cavs or Browns game, relaxing with some music at the House of Blues or the Cleveland Orchestra or appreciating the arts at Cleveland Museum of Arts. And if you enjoy food like me, you’ll love the wide variety of cuisine available throughout the city ranging from fine dining at top rated restaurants such as Michael Symon’s Lola to stuffing your face at a hole in the wall joint serving authentic food, wondering if your stomach will have to pay for it later.

Overall, the program has exceeded all of my expectations as it has provided a well rounded learning experience including a balance of service with a mixture of inpatient and outpatient rotations and didactics including our weekly protected learning time. My advice for the whole application process would be to choose a program that offers you the best fit in terms of your professional and personal interests. I could tell you not to stress about it but you naturally will, as the decision is a daunting one. In the end, trust your gut and it won’t let you down – it has definitely worked for me.

Zubin Arora, PGY-3

After graduating from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the premier medical school in India, I was clear about my expectations from residency. I wanted to continue my training at a program which maintained a fine balance between clinical and academic responsibilities. By the end of residency, I wanted to feel comfortable taking care of even the sickest patients and also be well versed with the intricacies of academic research. After interviewing at the Cleveland Clinic, I knew this was exactly where I wanted to be.

Over the past two years, I have had the opportunity to learn the nuances of clinical medicine at the patients’ bedside from world renowned experts. I always enjoyed sufficient autonomy and freedom in medical decision making while simultaneously receiving constructive feedback which has helped me grow tremendously. In addition, with ample support available from para clinical staff, I never needed to perform any tasks which were not of educational value.

Concomitantly, I received exceptional support in pursuing my academic interests. As part of the Clinical Scholars’ track, I was provided with dedicated research time along with formal training in research methods, biostatistics, epidemiology, and study design. I received invaluable guidance from my mentors, all of them leaders in their fields, while working on several challenging research projects. The residency program also sponsored my travel to several national meetings to present my work.

As I get ready to transition to the next stage of my career by pursuing a fellowship in Gastroenterology, I feel confident that my residency training has prepared me well for the future challenges and life out there in the real world. If you are looking for a program that is committed to excellence in education, patient care and research, I highly encourage you to consider the Cleveland Clinic Internal Medicine Residency Program. I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Donelle Cummings, MD, PGY-2

Donelle Cummings, MD

Medical School: Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University

Choosing to pursue residency training in Internal Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation was an extension of a phenomenal educational experience as a student at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. As an alumnus of the medical school, I was quite familiar with the Cleveland Clinic system and was absolutely thrilled at the opportunity to advance to a position within the residency program. As a medical student, I chose to come to the Cleveland Clinic for its renowned faculty, numerous research opportunities, and focus on patient-centered care. My educational experience was enriched by these factors, and they ultimately influenced my desire to seek residency training here.

Making a decision on where to pursue residency training is daunting, as this choice absolutely affects the trajectory of one's career as a physician. Selecting a program that fits your academic, professional and personal goals is a challenge. Bearing my experiences as medical student in mind, I knew that there were few institutions available that could provide a solid training experience in an environment with as many expert staff members, nationally-ranked subspecialties, and cutting-edge facilities. Furthermore, during my years as a medical student, I developed a real fondness for Cleveland, Ohio - its sense of community, its history, its world-class cultural and academic institutions, and even its professional sports teams. For these reasons, I felt that the residency program at the Cleveland Clinic was a very good fit for my educational, professional, and personal goals. I am very pleased to pursue residency training at the Cleveland Clinic and hopefully grow my career as a physician in Northeast Ohio.

Andrea Fialho, MD, PGY-2

Andrea Fialho, MD

Medical School: Universidade Federal do Ceara, Brazil

Choosing a residency program is a difficult decision. Your residency training will impact the way you practice medicine forever. Cleveland Clinic was one of the many hospitals I interviewed at and I was not mistaken when I ranked it on the top of my list.

Why did I choose to come to Cleveland Clinic? First of all, I wanted a program that would help me became the best clinician I can be. At the Cleveland Clinic you deal with very complex patients who are usually very sick. On top of that you have the most advanced resources only one click away, so you will always be learning and giving your patients the most up to date treatment. All this is combined with the brilliant minds you have as attendings and co-residents – the combination is simply a great learning experience.

I have dedicated a significant part of my life to research and I wanted a residency program that would allow me to continue to do research in whatever field I choose. The research opportunities here are simply innumerable in every field, no matter what subspecialty you are interested in. You may even choose to do a research track if this is your career choice.

I also wanted a residency program that would provide me with enough resources to pursue a fellowship. This is the 4th Best Hospital in the country, and all specialties in Internal Medicine are ranked among the best in the nation. You will always be learning from the best experts here.

I guess until now everything I said is very standard – everyone wants a residency program that provides great training, research opportunities and a good fellowship placement. This program has something else to it: the friendly atmosphere. And I have to say Cleveland Clinic exceeded my expectations in this point. This is a Top Hospital, so you would think that the environment is very competitive right? Well this is not the case. Residents have great camaraderie between them and also with the attendings. You actually like to go to work. Everyone here is willing to step aside from what they are doing to help you, even if it’s with directions in this huge institution. Aside from that, there are different tracks including the VA track and the Hospitalist track so that you can always shape your career in to what suits you best.

I also enjoy the fact that there is a multicultural and diverse population among patients and Cleveland Clinic employees. I myself am from Brazil and I have felt very welcome here along with my husband, who is also a first year resident. There are many international patients, residents and attendings and I think this adds to the friendliness of the environment, enriches the residency experience and makes Cleveland Clinic unique.

By now you have already noticed that I am very fond of this program and I really believe that it provides its residents with outstanding residency training. Come see for yourself if this program meets your needs. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Allison Winter, MD, PGY-2

Allison Winter, MD

Medical School: Wake Forest University School of Medicine, North Carolina

Applying for residency is overwhelming. How do you know what to look for in a program? How do you rank programs especially when most programs claim to have such similar attributes? Unfortunately, I can’t answer that for you. But I can tell you what mattered most to me. I wanted a program that would challenge me on a daily basis, where I would be pushed by my staff and even my peers. Because, if you think about it, three years is actually a pretty short period of time and then you are on your own making decisions without anyone looking over your shoulder. Since beginning residency at the Cleveland Clinic there has not been one day where I have not been challenged. I am consistently taking care of complex patients, both in terms of rare disorders as well as patients with “bread and butter” problems, but many of them co-existing and complicating the others. With these complex patients there is not always a straightforward right-or-wrong answer to their problems. These difficult clinical scenarios are learning opportunities that you could never get out of a book. I am confident that after three years of these opportunities, I will have the skill set to handle the difficult questions that arise in the future.

I was also attracted to this program because I am interested in pursuing a fellowship. At Cleveland Clinic you get a strong foundation in general medicine as well as a strong foundation in the subspecialties, often working with leaders in the fields. When applying I knew that I wanted a place where residents were not just encouraged to do research, but where opportunities were not difficult to find. That is certainly the case here. During my second month of residency I already had a staff member offer me a research opportunity without me even asking!

I have to admit, the idea of living in Cleveland made me a little nervous. But I honestly think it is an extremely under-rated city. The affordability is unparalleled. I have a whole house and backyard and enough left over to actually enjoy the city – festivals, sporting games, restaurants and more. And with a program as big as this one, you can always find someone not at the hospital to go enjoy it with. Our program is very diverse with great minds from all over the world - - great minds and great people. We work well together at the hospital and then have fun together outside of the hospital.

Nancy Vu, PGY-2

Medical School: University of Utah School of Medicine

I am a Utah native from Salt Lake City. I graduated with a biomedical engineering degree from the University of Utah before joining the university medical school. Training to become an excellent physician prepared for the future of health care was important for me in choosing a residency program. The geniality and collegiality of the residents, the palpable support from the internal medicine department, and the cutting-edge, high impact care given by the Cleveland Clinic was what stood out to me in deciding which program would put me on the right path. As a current resident, I am regularly impressed by all three. My careers goals are to practice primary care/preventative medicine locally and internationally.

While outside the hospital, my favorite things to do are to explore the metroparks and new mountain bike trails in the Emerald Necklace encircling the city. I enjoy skiing, outdoor patio sitting, baking lasagnas, and planning adventures with friends and family.

Anne Meier, PGY-1

When it came down to making a decision about where to go for residency, most programs seemed very similar to me.  What made Cleveland Clinic stand were the opportunities it presented in research and clinical experience. The scope and complexity of cases present at Cleveland Clinic are difficult to match, and I knew that continuing my medical education at CCF would allow me to learn from a wide variety of common and rare cases.  I knew I would (and have been able to) work side by side with some of the top clinicians in the country. 

However, after a few months of my intern year here, I’ve found the reasons why I’m glad I matched at Cleveland Clinic differ slightly from why I initially chose to complete residency here.  Despite it’s large size, there is an incredible feeling of community among the residents in the program, especially my co-intern class.  I entered the program unsure of what to think of the large size, and it now feel as though it is getting smaller every day.  I have been fortunate to make great friends within my class and I truly appreciate the atmosphere of support present among all my co-residents.  There are frequent lectures and interactive case studies presented by senior residents. The attending physicians have been friendly and approachable, and I have to yet to meet one who would not stop what they are doing to answer any questions a resident may have.

There are a wide variety of electives available, including the opportunity to take time to complete research, without extending residency.  There are still floor and clinic months providing residents with the experience necessary to be successful in general internal medicine, however, we also have a generous amount of time within our schedule to explore other specialties. In general, I have felt the freedom to make patient care decisions independently while still feeling as though I have a large amount of support and guidance from my seniors and faculty members.

Living in Cleveland has been a pleasant surprise.  Having been born and raised in Michigan, I am no stranger to the Midwest, however I definitely considered residency as an opportunity to explore other regions.  I did not choose Cleveland Clinic for it’s geographical location, but I have discovered that it is actually a fun city, full of history and character.  There are always plenty of events to attend, or interesting places to check out.  One of the things I appreciate most about living here is the atmosphere of change.  Cleveland has been growing and has changed dramatically from what it was even just a few years ago.  New restaurants and shops are opening frequently, and there are plenty of outdoor activities, including a national park, within close driving distance. 

I cannot speak for other internal medicine programs, as I have not experienced them first hand, but I can say that I am genuinely happy I made the decision to come to Cleveland Clinic.  It has been a great experience so far, and I am already looking forward to meeting the next year of outstanding incoming residents to come here. 

Pamela Leone, MY, MPS, PGY-1

When I tell most people I had never lived outside of Miami, Florida before coming to Cleveland, their immediate and stunned reaction is “This is definitely not Miami!” I must admit, I was pretty terrified at leaving but looking back, it has been the best decision I ever made.

Deciding on a residency program may seem like the most daunting undertaking you have experienced, even more so than it was choosing a medical school, at least that’s how I felt! However, I assure you the choice you make will be the right fit for you and your future career path (don’t worry, I never believed others who told me that either!). Cleveland Clinic was one of many excellent programs with whom I interviewed and I can proudly say I matched at my number 1 choice. I ranked Cleveland Clinic number 1 simply because I felt it was the best overall and the best for me, in numerous ways. I sought out a program that places strong emphasis on patient-centered care, serves a large and diverse community, and fosters mentoring relationships between residents and faculty. A program that offers exposure to the various subspecialties of internal medicine with the ultimate goal of obtaining the most well rounded training possible in order to become a superior physician and future subspecialist. The Cleveland Clinic possesses all of these attributes in abundance and more!

It is on a daily basis that I am excited by the outstanding clinical practices, superb teaching and world class comprehensive care that is standard at this amazing institution. If you have any questions about our program or about choosing a residency program overall (even one that is far from your warm home), please do not hesitate to contact me. I am wholly positive your expectations will be met and exceeded, just as mine have, should you come see our program!