Alumni Profiles

Zubin Arora, MD

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.

H. Michael Bolooki , MD

  • University of Minnesota
    Cardiovascular Disease Fellow
  • Medical School: University of Miami School of Medicine
  • Outside Interests: Running, Mountain Biking, Music, and Computers

The opportunities that presented themselves during my training were numerous. The diversity and complexity of patients provided me with a unique and unparalleled educational experience. Training at one of the leading academic centers in the country has distinct advantages and has definitely launched many careers both academic and non-academic alike. Herein lays one of the many beauties of Cleveland Clinic. It is an institution that can train outstanding residents for careers in Internal Medicine while also preparing the same for many different subspecialty fellowships. Graduates leaving Cleveland Clinic have many employment as well as fellowship opportunities. The program’s match success is partly due to the world renowned reputation of Cleveland Clinic and the quality of physicians it trains.

Having come from Florida, it was a daunting task at first to convince my wife that Cleveland would be a great place for both of us. After three years, she was finally convinced that I was right. We even added an additional year to our time in Cleveland for my appointment as Chief Medical Resident. Cleveland is a very livable city and has much to offer. There are a lot of neighborhoods to choose from with ample affordable housing. From the downtown nightlife to concerts in the park, we never ran out of things to do.

Even though I’ve left Cleveland Clinic for my Cardiology fellowship with the University of Minnesota, I will always look back on my time here fondly. I believe the training that I received here in Internal Medicine has laid the framework for excellence in the rest of my medical career. I hope you will join the program here at Cleveland Clinic to begin to build the foundation for your future.

Jennifer Giordano, DO

  • Medical School:  Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

I could describe the amazing medical experiences I had at the Cleveland Clinic which allowed me to have a strong foundation in Internal Medicine. I could write pages about the strength of this program which is rated one of the top in the country. I could reflect on the kind attendings with the most brilliant minds in medicine, the abundance of research opportunities and the beautiful cultural melting pot that it is which attracts unique perspectives from all corners of the world.  However, I am confident the Cleveland Clinic reputation will speak for itself.

Instead, I wish to share a few things with you that can’t be gleaned from reading their website. I went through my Internal Medicine training at the Cleveland Clinic and had two children while doing it. My first child was born at the end of my second year and my second child was born at the end of my third year. Those were the hardest years of my life. I was striving to become the doctor I always wanted to be and I was also doing my best to fulfill the goals I had for myself beyond medicine. My husband was also an Internal Medicine co-resident of mine. You can imagine the wild life we led! I would thank heaven that my white coat covered up mashed baby bananas on my clothes underneath. I would get multiple stares running down the hall to a code blue with my pagers screaming and my big belly leading me. I breast fed in every quiet nook and cranny I could find. I also happen to have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis which contributed to having little energy and feeling post-call the entire 3 years.

Through it all, I had one major thing going for me. The Cleveland Clinic and especially our Internal Medicine Residency program supported me through each step. I would waddle to my G10 continuity clinic and my preceptors, co-residents, and the nurses would always ask how my family was and make sure I was feeling ok. Overnight on call, my co-residents and attendings would offer up food and snacks so I wouldn’t go hungry.  It takes a special residency program to support its residents’ endeavors both inside and outside the walls of the hospital and I believe the most successful residency programs support their residents to live the lives they wish for themselves in order to be the happiest, strongest, and most productive physicians for their patients. Programs like this foster personal growth and encourage a healthy, well balanced life for resident doctors which enable them to relate to patients more than ever. In a growing culture of medicine where personal skills and bedside manner are highly valued, I am confident the Cleveland Clinic is producing some of the finest, empathetic, well rounded physicians.

The excellent background in research that I attained there prepared me to present a poster/abstract this year at a national meeting. Additionally, I earned first place for a poster presentation at our hospital research day and currently I work on a project that examines the long term relationship between bariatric surgery and bone health. Cleveland Clinic sparked by interest in research and provided a solid foundation to pursue it.

I cherish my experiences as a mother which serve me so well in my current position as a final year Endocrinology fellow. Now pregnant with my 3rd child, I work with many pregnant female patients suffering with thyroid disease and I get incredible satisfaction in relating to them and educating them. I feel so much pride and gratitude in graduating from a program that supported my dreams to become an Endocrinologist and a mother. I wish you every success in building your career as a physician and in finding your happiness as a person and I know the Cleveland Clinic will provide both for you.

Nael Hawwa, M.D.

  • Cardiology Fellow, Cleveland Clinic
  • Medical School: University of Jordan

Having finished my 3 years of residency at Cleveland Clinic, and now doing my cardiology fellowship here, I will summarize the great experience that I had.

To start, Cleveland Clinic as an institution is extremely well run. The overall support system is top-notch: nursing, case managers, phlebotomists, consult services, ICU back-up for your sick patients, emergency response teams, and prompt diagnostic imaging studies, all make your experience and patient care much better.

The hospital obviously attracts sick and complex patients, which makes for a very rigorous training. That being said, you deal with more than enough basic cases. You work with attendings who are leaders in their respective fields. Reading can only take you so far; it’s the first-hand experience you get from such individuals that makes the difference. A unique aspect was the Clinical Scholar track. A 4-month educational track offered to several 2nd year residents every year, it provided me with the time to pursue my research, and gave me a better understanding of academia. Another huge plus was the actual dedicated “academic half-day”, the weekly PGY-specific educational conference. Considering sick patients, new admissions, discharges, nursing requests etc. don’t take a break during the day, this was probably the best way to protect our education time. Finally, once you start residency you’ll realize that even small things (which we take for granted) matter. One being the very nice and modern facilities that we have, as well as our wide selection of on-campus restaurants (food being one of my priorities!).

To summarize, I had an excellent residency experience, and if I could go back, I would no doubt choose Cleveland Clinic again. It prepared my well to face the challenges in the real world, and got me to one of the best fellowship programs in the country.

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.

Chaim Moeller, MD

Rotating through the various specialties and subspecialties as a medical student, I came to realize that I wanted to be a physician who had developed at least a basic level of competence at diagnosing and treating the whole patient. While many of my rotations were fun and exciting, none afforded me the breadth and simultaneous depth of knowledge as Internal Medicine. At The University of Maryland’s School of Medicine, I was granted a host of fabulous experiences in many different fields, but the physicians who I felt were the best suited to address any medical problems were those who began their career with an Internal Medicine residency. As such, I decided to pursue a residency in Internal Medicine. While I hope to eventually specialize, I am confident that establishing my roots in Internal Medicine will allow me to be a physician of, “the whole adult,” with skills far broader than my area of expertise.

As I explored residency options and tried to tease apart the many excellent programs I interviewed at, there were a number of things that made Cleveland Clinic stand out. When I came to interview, I learned that many of the attending physicians on the various services at Cleveland Clinic are leaders in their respective fields, and are also excellent teachers who avail themselves to the house staff and are readily available to assist with clinical and research advice. The medicine services at Cleveland Clinic include a few general internal medicine services, but also include those that are specific to various subspecialty areas, such as GI, Cardiology, Hem/Onc, Nephrology, Vascular Medicine, and Palliative Medicine. This provides the medical staff with the unique opportunity to rotate on services that are being staffed by experts in the specific organ system that the patients’ chief complaints revolve around. It further ensures that the resident learns, module by module, how to best diagnose and treat diseases of the various organ systems and best address the specific needs of various patient populations. My decision to train at Cleveland Clinic was based on these facts, as well as the collegial environment, and friendly atmosphere. From the Program Director to the interns, I was impressed by the openly warm manner in which staff members interacted with one another.

I consider myself fortunate to be learning and developing my skills as a physician in one of the best hospitals in the world with one of the most complex and diverse patient populations. I have found that my expectations of collegiality, education, access to leaders in various fields, and overall growth as a physician have been surpassed in many ways. Cleveland Clinic strives to provide "World Class Care" for its patients, and I can testify that Cleveland Clinic's Internal Medicine Residency Program fulfills this goal entirely, affording its staff "World Class Training."

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.

Vipan Nikore MD, MBA

  • Medical School: University of Illinois-Chicago
  • Business School: Yale University

As I approach the tail-end of my internal medicine residency, I cannot imagine a better place to train than Cleveland Clinic. Here’s why:

1) High volume hospital with extremely sick patients

Patients are transferred from all over the state, country, and world with complex cases. This is exemplified by our Medical ICU, often regarded as the highest acuity and volume MICU in the country (approx 60 beds). Hard work is required given this volume and acuity, but the reward is that by the end of residency you feel confident treating any patient in any situation.

2) An integral part of the decision making process from day 1:

Interns know the patients best, and are the heart and soul of the care team. My first week as an intern I recall a complex liver failure patient with endocarditis. Instead of just pushing paper, I found myself brainstorming ideas with a world-renowned infectious disease specialist, cardiologist, and gastroenterologist. These interactions occur daily, and before you know it you begin leading these discussions. You spend much of your day with some of the best doctors in the world, and gain incredible knowledge from them. Our program also provides plenty of autonomy to make decisions, yet a world-class support system.

3) Educational opportunities are endless:

Our academic half day gives us protected teaching time, in addition to endless lectures, case conferences, grand rounds, resident as teaching sessions, and board review sessions available to us. Ask to check out the comprehensive lecture schedule available to CCF residents, you’ll be blown away by how many opportunities there are.

4) A well designed program:

You manage patients on subspecialty wards, thus you learn cardiology from the best cardiologists in the world, nephrology from the best nephrologists, etc. You then bring that knowledge together on our general medicine rotations and night floats. This approach allows one to be a great internist at the cutting edge of medicine. Further, our newly designed primary care outpatient experience uniquely allows us to separate our inpatient and outpatient experiences and simulates working in a true medical home.

5) A diverse and knowledgeable cohort of co-residents

You will be in awe of their sheer knowledge and this will motivate and push you to learn more. Cleveland Clinic truly is a global hospital that recruits the smartest people in the world. Remarkably this group is collegial and always looks out for each other. You also learn from outstanding fellows whom you get to know well and are always open to answering questions.

6) The program supports you to pursue your unique goals within medicine:

Thanks to my program’s support, I’ve expanded my non-profit uFLOW from Chicago to Cleveland and San Francisco, take management and leadership classes at Cleveland Clinic Academy, write monthly blogs on two well known health websites, and worked in Peru and Nepal.

7) Research Opportunities:

Our research requirements exceed those required by ACGME, and you have tremendous opportunities and support to meet these expectations. I’ve had multiple attendings reach out to me after I simply expressed interest in a specific topic.

8) An efficient hospital means more time for learning and less scut work:

We have world leading technology, labs are usually back in time for rounds, and things get done overnight and generally move fast. There is a reason presidential candidates consistently sight us as the model for healthcare.

9) Cleveland! The ideal place to be a resident!

Having lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Toronto, I admit Cleveland initially worried me. My fears quickly faded. With three major sports teams, a world renowned arts & culture scene, outstanding restaurants, a vibrant nightlife, summer festivals, the worlds highest roller coaster park, and a vast amount of outdoor greenspace I’ve found more than enough to do to keep me entertained. And its great you can enjoy these activities as a resident because of the low cost of living.

If you want to learn from the best clinicians, become an outstanding clinician, and join one of the fastest growing hospitals at the forefront of medicine, then I strongly encourage you to consider Cleveland Clinic’s Internal Medicine Residency program. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions.

Hataya Kristy Poonyagariyagorn, MD

  • Johns Hopkins
    Pulmonary Critical Care Fellow
  • Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, New York, NY
  • Outside Interests: Classic piano, Thai Classical Dance, Sports (basketball, football), NASCAR

Residency training should provide learning opportunities with the best and brightest educators, and Cleveland Clinic's Internal Medicine Residency Program has certainly exceeded all of my expectations. I was drawn to this institution because of the exceptional training the residency program could provide in the setting of a truly special hospital consistently regarded as one of the best in the country. The training I have received here has been unparalleled as I have been able to treat diverse and complex patients while seeing a spectrum of common and rare diseases. Furthermore, the learning environment is enriched by staff physicians who are leaders in their respective fields and dedicated to the education of residents. Needless to say, research opportunities are bountiful and residents are easily able to avail themselves of this resource. The camaraderie amongst the residents along with a collegial work environment was a treasure I happily encountered and I know will continue.

Residents at Cleveland Clinic not only receive superior medical training but are also involved in research at the forefront of medicine. Researchers are always welcoming new resident ideas and including us in novel projects, ranging from basic science to clinical trials. In an environment with the most cutting-edge technology available, many residents have published as first authors in leading journals as well as presented at national conferences. Such achievements have not only strengthened a resident's application for future academic positions but have also helped advance them for fellowship training.

Residents will continue to be an integral component of the special health care that Cleveland Clinic provides. All graduates of our residency program are fully prepared to be invaluable members of the medical community. Learning at this institution takes place in a uniquely challenging yet comfortable environment, and I am confident that my internal medicine training has prepared me well for my future pulmonary and critical care medicine fellowship.

Haala Rokadia, MD

  • Medical School: George Washington University School of Medicine

I started my time at Cleveland Clinic as a prelim medicine intern with the anticipation of going to an Ivy League Anesthesiology program after one year. The beginning of my intern year was full of nervousness, excitement, and insecurity. My aim over the course of the following twelve months was to master medicine by the book, build confidence in my capacity as a physician, and shed the nervousness of medical school. The year brought more than I expected and asked for. In fact, despite an anesthesiology future that I had spent time and effort to acquire and the distance from my family, I decided to return to Cleveland Clinic to complete my training in Internal Medicine. Now in retrospect, in comparing notes with my medical school friends, I am proud to say that I carry more responsibility, do more procedures, and see more bread-and-butter AND “zebra” medicine than any of my friends at other medicine programs. But do not let one person’s narrative bias you; the Cleveland Clinic medicine program speaks for itself:

The Patients
Our patient population is made up of the local Clevelander who frequents the emergency room, the international political figure that flew in for the hospital stay, the patient transferred from a community hospital for advanced care, and everyone in between. Needless to say, this gamut of patients seeks care at Cleveland Clinic based on our physicians’ expertise and world-renowned reputation. This diversity in our patient population equates to large patient volumes, diversity of disease processes, and high acuity of care – all integral aspects of learning for an internal medicine resident.

The Program
First and foremost, as a Cleveland Clinic resident, you will feel respected and heard by the administration and your colleagues. Your career goals will be accommodated: ensuring scheduling preferences, streamlining fellowship applications, and supporting research ambitions. Your transition into residency will be smooth. Administrative paperwork will be kept to a minimum to allow you to focus and thrive as a resident. Most importantly, you will always feel that you have an advocate in the Internal Medicine residency program office.

The Attendings
As a Cleveland Clinic resident, you have access to some of the most brilliant minds in medicine. You will pick their minds about nuances in medicine. You will join them in research endeavors. They will give you autonomy and offer supervision. Most importantly, they remember you, they appreciate you, and they trust you.

The Co-residents
The overarching feeling among co-residents is that of cooperation rather than competition. Your Cleveland Clinic co-residents will act as a genuine support system in moments of weakness, a source of motivation and inspiration in both career and personal development, and a champion for your accomplishments. Here, you will meet some lifelong friends.

The Hospital
The reputation of the hospital speaks for itself. The facilities are state-of-the-art, there is space dedicated to teaching and research, and there are well-kept resident work areas. By navigating the systems based practice of medicine, patient care is managed in an efficient manner. Residents and staff of other disciplines are friendly and they contribute to your education.

The details above set the stage for a wealth of opportunities that a Cleveland Clinic resident has access to. As a Cleveland Clinic resident, it is your responsibility to take advantage of this place: learn medicine from experts in their fields, engage in research opportunities with world-renowned staff, and establish strong professional relationships for your future.

David Seastone, DO, PhD

  • Chief Fellow, Hematology/Oncology
  • Medical School:  Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

A physician is constantly making decisions that strive for the best care of their patient.  Additionally, we routinely face many decisions that impact our careers which we spend so much time fostering.  When I reflect back on my decision to pursue internal medicine residency (and later hematology/oncology fellowship) at the Cleveland Clinic, there has never been a moment of doubt in my mind that I made the right choice!

The internal medicine residency at CCF can be described in so many ways, but a few key words come to mind: opportunity, flexibility, diversity.  I initially came to CCF because it has a tremendous reputation in the medical community and although there are many opportunities to pursue clinical and even basic science research, the main focus always remains on patient care.  My training here armed me with all of the necessary tools to pursue a multitude of career paths but I know it especially prepared me for my career as a hematologist/oncologist.

The structure of the residency not only allowed me to gain the broad knowledge base necessary to succeed as an internal medicine physician, but also allowed me the time and resources to focus on my chosen area of subspecialty.  During my residency, I had the privilege of working with some of the finest people the world has to offer.  The residents at CCF hale from all over the map and the variety of ideas, life experience, and culture is amazing; the bonds I forged with my colleagues during residency will be life-long.

Nancy Vu, MD

  • 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.