Alfredo Colon, MD
Ponce Health Sciences University School of Medicine
Hello! My name is Alfredo Colon, and I come from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. I have a Bachelor’s in molecular biology and a masters degree in medical sciences. During my medical education at Ponce Health Sciences University, my passion for education, mentorship and community service flourished. It was during this time that I discovered the importance of creating long lasting relationships with patients therefore facilitating patient-centered care.
Outside of my time of medicine, I enjoy listening to music, playing the guitar, watching movies & TV shows, playing video games, and exercising. And yes, there is time to continue doing the things you love, even in residency!
I chose Baystate because despite the virtual interview format, I felt a real connection with the faculty and residents I spoke with. It reassured me this would be an excellent place to train as a physician and to grow as a person. It was clear quite early to me that Baystate created a welcoming learning environment that prepares all its residents well for their future practice. Since my arrival, I have yet to see otherwise!
Mina Iskandar, MD
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland - Medical University of Bahrain
Hi! My name is Mina Iskandar, and I am originally from Alexandria, Egypt. I went to school at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (the Bahrain Campus), and am beyond thrilled to have matched at UMMS-Baystate.
IMGs wanting to match into the United States have some difficulty navigating medical school, as they adhere to their home medical school's graduation requirements, arduous as they are, while also preparing for (and taking) USMLE examinations and facing the air-tight National Residency Matching Program. God knows how difficult my road was, and God knows just how challenging and competitive the 2021 NRMP Match season was.
Nevertheless, I am so blessed and lucky to have matched into one of the oldest and most impactful Internal Medicine/Pediatrics residency programs: UMMS-Baystate.
We are tested every day in a challenging yet highly protected and nurturing environment to learn, to push our boundaries of knowledge, to apply ever-evolving skillsets into practice, and to show compassion and sow trust in our patients that are in dire need of compassion and trust.
As such, your work has an impact here, despite being an intern, because that's the philosophy at UMMS-Baystate: you matter, your work matters, and your patients see that. This holds true across all departments here, but is particularly so at UMMS-Baystate Internal Medicine/Pediatrics program.
Nicole Kasher, MD
Technion Israel Institute of Technology
Hi, I’m Nicole! I grew up in Los Angeles, California. I completed my undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at UCLA and took a few years off to work on clinical research projects in Parkinson’s disease where I learned the value and necessity of advocating for patient rights and education. I made my first move to the (south!)east coast to complete a degree in public health in Atlanta, Georgia after which I moved abroad to Haifa, Israel to pursue my medical studies. Beginning in my first year there, I worked with a diverse, local, and interprofessional group of friends and colleagues to open Israel’s first free, student-run health center for underserved individuals. In this period, I was privileged to learn about the impact and importance of passion, teamwork, leadership through action, and our responsibility to social justice and change.
During my interview, I knew I wanted to be a part of Baystate because I saw those values represented in the program and in the physicians here. Equally important for me, I was able to feel how incredibly supportive, kind, and warm the atmosphere and people of Baystate are, even through the virtual interview setting! My interests in medicine are currently and very broadly women’s health and underserved health and I can’t wait to see how my next 4 years here helps me further mold my career goals!
My interests outside of medicine include cooking (vegan, Persian food), dancing, rock climbing, and board games like backgammon. I also love exploring new restaurants and being outdoors!
Jessica Malhotra, MD
Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University
Hi! My name is Jess and I was born and raised in Stamford, CT. I got a degree in Chemistry from Quinnipiac University and spent a year working as a medical assistant, biller, and tutor for middle school students. I went back to Quinnipiac for medical school where I focused a lot on teaching and peer tutoring. I spent my third year in a rural hospital (Northern Maine Medical Center) all the way up in Fort Kent, ME for a longitudinal core clerkship and loved it! My career interests go far and wide, currently including medical education, hospitalist medicine, and possibly GI or critical care, who knows where Med-Peds will take me!
When I’m not in the hospital or at clinic, I like to cook, play with my two dogs, watch TV with my partner, or play an occasional arc of Dungeons and Dragons with my family. You may also hear me singing quite loudly in my car on my drive into the parking garage. I’m trying to improve my knitting skills but I still have a long way to go, so far my repertoire solely consists of scarves and mittens.
I chose Baystate because everyone I met on interview day seemed really happy and motivated. I thought I would be welcomed with warm arms (and I was!) and Baystate had everything I wanted in a Med-Peds program. Most of my family is still in CT so being near them is really great too. So far working at Baystate is everything I had hoped for and more. I’m excited to see what the rest of my 4 years here will bring!
Jorge Rivera, MD
University of Illinois College of Medicine
My name is Jorge and I was born and raised in the Chicagoland area (Bloomingdale to be specific). I graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in pre-medicine and anthropology. I took a year off to do a small research project in anthropology and volunteer at local hospital while also starting to interview for medical school. I went to the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago where I discovered my love for Med-Peds and how versatile the specialty could be. My career interests include medical education, primary care, maybe Med-Peds heme onc…but ask me again in a few months and that might all change.
Outside of medicine, I enjoy eating, watching too many TV shows at the same time, taking a nice walk, yoga and dancing.
I chose Baystate because during my interview, I got an instant sense of the supportive atmosphere the program has cultivated. They really emphasize making sure you are doing well and everyone from the residents to the leadership check in on you throughout the year. This was proven tenfold during my first week of working on the wards when many of the Med Peds seniors took the time out of their busy schedule to make sure my co-intern and I were doing okay. Other major pluses include, but are not limited to, the emphasis that Baystate puts on educating their residents to be thoughtful physicians and the clinic at Mason Square.
Lillian Seo, MD
School of Medicine at Dartmouth
My name is Lily, and I'm from Westport, CT. I spent most of my life on the East Coast before making a four-year foray to the Midwest where I attended the University of Michigan for undergrad (Go Blue!) and completed my degree in computer science. I came back closer to home for medical school, spending the last four years in New Hampshire where I went to Dartmouth for medical school and learned to embrace the beautiful outdoors - which Western Mass has plenty to boast about!
I chose Baystate initially because of the warmth and support that translated so powerfully even through Zoom, and that I found to be even more genuine when I finally met everyone in person. The people here are passionate, kind, and mission-driven. Since being here, I have been humbled and inspired by the culture of support that I encounter every day. The dedication of upper-year residents and attendings to supporting all the Bambi-legged interns is incredible. The Learner-Manager-Teacher model of medical training here is also unique and a really effective way of lending graduated autonomy. I did not come across any other program on the interview trail with this kind of model, and I'm glad I'm at a place that approaches medical education so thoughtfully. Lastly, my interest lies in correctional health and prison medicine, as well as all the advocacy and social justice work that inevitably lies in that work. Baystate has many people dedicated to this kind of work, taking advocacy to its most meaningful ends.
Outside of medicine, I love taking long walks outside (catch me on the rail trail in Northampton!), hiking (so many peaks to explore in the area), baking, and trying all the amazing local ice cream shops (despite my GI system's apparent lack of adequate enzymes to handle that much dairy).
Aladdin Sufyan, MD
The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences
My name is Aladdin Sufyan and I was born and raised in Michigan. I grew up in Dearborn, MI and completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan - Dearborn. I attended medical school at the University of Toledo College of Medicine.
I enjoy visiting parks, forests, beaches, & waterfalls with my wife and four children. I also enjoy traveling to different cities and checking out their local restaurants.
I chose Baystate because my interview experience was wonderful, and what really stood out to me most was the fact that even after my interview day, everyone was so genuine, welcoming, and willing to answer all of my questions. I was especially impressed by the excellent ambulatory experience at Mason Square. In addition, the general culture of the program and "family-feel" really made me feel at home. I am interested in primary care, specifically working to improve health care access to under-served communities, and I felt that Baystate was the perfect program to help me achieve my career goals.
Lastly, the Springfield and surrounding areas have plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities to keep my family and me busy, and there are many different food options available to try (I've tried Turkish, Indian, Pakistani, Yemeni, and Lebanese so far).
Amanda Whitehouse, MD
University of Massachusetts Medical School - PURCH Track
My name is Amanda. I grew up south of Boston. I did my undergrad at University of Michigan (Go Blue!). I spent some time between college and medical school teaching sixth grade science (chemistry, anatomy and space oh my!) and doing some device innovation research in T1DM at Joslin Diabetes Center.
I attended the University of Massachusetts SOM for medical school and was part of the first graduating class of PURCH. Through this program, we did some of our pre-clinical work in Springfield and all of our clinical years at Baystate. In medical school, I was very involved with state and national health policy as a way to intervene on social drivers of health that disproportionately impact historically disenfranchised communities, like Springfield and some of the surrounding towns. I hope to continue this work as a resident.
I chose Baystate for a number of reasons. First, I am interested in medical education and this institution is really committed to educating residents through their innovative learner, manager, teacher model. They also have many opportunities to help residents to become good educators. Second, the patient population that we have the privilege of taking care of is passionate and resilient. In addition, there are so many brilliant community organizers working to push the needle towards a healthier community and as we know good healthcare delivery takes a village. Third, my sub-I at Mason Square fourth year really sealed the deal. In addition to taking care of patients in MSQ neighborhood, the providers/preceptors here are second to none. They do amazing community-based medicine and top-notch primary care, they are constantly learning and they love teaching residents! It is awesome having role models, whose practice you hope to emulate.
Outside of medicine, I love living in the valley! (Sometimes people from eastern MA forget there is life beyond 495, guilty..). I have a pandemic pup, named Bader. Much of my free time is spent hanging with her! We love hiking and checking out new breweries, of which there are many. There is lots of great food in the area. It has also been so fun getting to know co-residents—dinners, board games, bike rides—the people who choose Baystate are great! I also love the proximity to Boston, NYC and Cape Cod because I am still able to see family easily. There might be something to this whole "Western MA, "Best'ern MA!
Charlotte Beers, MD
University of Rochester School of Medicine
My name is Charlotte, and I grew up in a town outside of Syracuse, NY. I attended Hamilton college, where I studied Neuroscience. After college, I attended the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry for Medical school. While at the University of Rochester, I developed a passion for working with the underserved community and saw first-hand the opportunities that a career in Med-Peds could offer.
I chose Baystate Med-Peds because of the friendly Med-Peds community and the unique teaching style they offered. I was also drawn to the combined Med-Peds continuity clinic at Mason Square, as my academic interests primarily focus around primary care.
Outside of medicine, I enjoy any outdoor activities including running, biking, hiking, and basketball. I also enjoy watching Syracuse basketball, and spending time with my family and friends!
Janette Farrell, MD
University of New Mexico School of Medicine
Hi! I am Janette Farrell. I was born and raised in Mexico and moved to the United States at the age of 12. My family and I moved to the beautiful and sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico. There, I completed all of my education, including my Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry in the University of New Mexico and then my medical degree at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
I enjoy being outdoors. I enjoy going hiking, camping, and exploring new sceneries and trying new things. I also enjoy dancing such as country and salsa dancing.
What attracted me to Baystate was their philosophy and the people. I became very interested in the program after learning about their “learner, teacher, manager model”. This made me feel like this program would support the concept of graduated autonomy and truly be invested in my learning. After meeting the leadership staff I was very pleased to see how genuine, approachable and transparent they were. I also felt like Springfield was a good town to live in and I was excited to explore the East Coast!
Jennifer Grom, MD
Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai
I grew up in a small town outside of New York City, but frequently visited my extended family in Ajijic, Mexico. I attended The State University of New York at Geneseo where I studied biology. There, I developed passions for independent international documentary filmmaking, as well as, serving marginalized communities. After college, I attended the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. I also obtained a Masters in Public Health at Columbia University. There, I received formal training in grant writing, and quality improvement, to advance care for under-served populations. During the height of the COVID crisis in New York City, I volunteered to graduate early from medical school to serve as a front-line physician in the heart of downtown Manhattan at Beth Israel Hospital.
Outside of medicine, I enjoy hiking, kayaking, skiing, filmmaking, and playing soccer.
I chose Baystate because of the supportive community and mentorship. I’m surrounded by other individuals who are both, genuinely committed to creating a better world, and also, committed to doing so while upholding humility and kindness. I also chose Baystate because of its unique teaching style with a strong emphasis growth mindset. Lastly, I chose Baystate because the Mason Square Clinic offers extensive supplemental support staff including nutritionists, therapists, social workers, case managers, and community health workers, allowing us to really focus on the medicine for our patients, while supporting them in ways that address systemic inequality and therefore, ensure they are healthy in a more sustainable way.
Stephanie Lawanto, MD
University of Utah School of Medicine
Hi, I’m Stephanie! I was born in Surabaya, Indonesia where it’s summer all year long. My family moved to the US when I was 12 and we lived in Urbana-Champaign, IL for 4 years before moving to Logan, UT. After high school, I studied Biological Engineering at Utah State University. After graduating, I took a year off to assist with a number of research projects, learn acupuncture (fascinating!) and volunteer at the free clinic.
In medical school, I continued to pursue my passion in serving the underserved and homeless population where I served as the manager for the homeless clinic in Salt Lake City, UT. During 3rd and 4th year of medical school, I had the opportunity to interact with awesome med peds mentors at the University of Utah and I was impressed with the versatility of med peds and comprehensive training to care for the newborns to geriatric patients. During my interview at Baystate, I was drawn to the family atmosphere between the residents and the faculties. All the residents were very friendly and they raved about the strong med peds training and great work life balance at Baystate. In speaking with Dr. Wretzel and Dr. Borden, I quickly felt welcomed and supported.
Outside of medicine, I love to draw and paint. I recently learned watercolor and it’s unpredictably relaxing. I also play the violin and piano. During the quarantine, I somehow became interested in amigurumi (crocheting stuffed animals from yarn) and I’m currently still a little bit obsessed with it.
Sarah McCullough, DO
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Hi! My name is Sarah and I grew up in the suburbs outside of Houston, TX. I graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Biomedical Sciences and Entomology. I spent two years gaining clinical experience working for a Med-Peds physician and realized that this was the best specialty to go into! Shortly after, I packed up and moved to Georgia to attend medical school at PCOM-Georgia Campus.
During my fourth year of medical school, I had the opportunity to rotate at Mason Square. I immediately felt a connection with the residents and faculty and knew that this was exactly where I wanted to continue my training as a Med-Peds physician. I am so excited to return to Baystate and to finally experience four seasons!In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and pets, hiking, cross-stitching, and watching Netflix.
Rachel Robinson, MD
Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans
My name is Rachel and I am a born and raised Louisianan. I am originally from Lake Charles, LA. I went to college at Louisiana State University where I studied biochemistry. In college, I considered pursing either an MD or PhD. After spending a summer as a research intern at MD Anderson with good exposure to both disciplines I chose medicine! I went straight from college to medical school in New Orleans at LSU. I faced the same dilemma my third year in clinical rotations where I loved both internal medicine and pediatrics. Rather than having to abandon either worthwhile pursuit, I chose both! I have a passion for learning and teaching, so I plan to go into academic medicine.
Baystate was a perfect fit for what I was looking for in a program. For me, my most important criteria were a program with a strong Med-Peds identity, opportunities to hone my craft in becoming a medical educator, and an emphasis on wellness and community. The first was immediately checked off as Baystate is one of the strongest med/peds programs in the country with an amazing multidisciplinary clinic! The second criteria was met in a number of ways with one of my favorite being Baystate’s unique learner-manager-teacher model. The third was what really made me fall in love with Baystate. I immediately felt at home on my interview day. The faculty and residents were genuine, warm, and friendly. I was also drawn to the charm of Massachusetts and New England in general. I am honored and thrilled for the opportunity to train under a program as renowned as Baystate!
In my free time, I enjoy listening to podcasts (either medical or true crime), spending time with my animals, collecting record albums, LSU football (8 years a tiger!), traveling, skiing, and fishing. I especially cannot wait to explore all that New England has to offer!
Emily Ruseski, MD
University of Texas Medical School at Houston
Hi, my name is Emily Ruseski and I am happy to be back in the northeast for residency at Baystate! I am a New Hampshire native but completed my undergraduate studies in Biology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. During college, I developed an interest in global health and rural/underserved medicine after participating in two medical mission trips to Central America. After graduation, I took some time off from school to work as a patient advocate in Dallas, TX before attending University of Texas Medical School at Houston. In medical school, I encountered several Med-Peds residents who inspired me and proved that this was the specialty that would best prepare me to advocate for the patient populations I wanted to serve.
I was initially drawn to Baystate’s Med-Peds program because of its reputation for having some of the happiest residents in the country. On interview day I was blown away not only by the friendly, family-like atmosphere of the program, but also by the excellent exposure to community-oriented primary care at Mason Square Neighborhood Health Center. I realized it was the perfect place to pursue my interest in primary care while also training at a top-of-the-line teaching hospital.
In my free time, I enjoy doing outdoorsy things like finding new hiking spots and skiing, or staying inside and reading whatever I can get my hands on. The Springfield area is filled with history and beautiful parks, so on any given day you can also find me exploring all the cool places around town!
Rachel Schmidt, MD
University of Kansas School of Medicine
Hi, my name is Rachel Schmidt! I am from Kansas, born and raised, but I was very excited to relocate to New England. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto! I went to Fort Hays State University for undergrad, in the delightful, small town of Hays, KS, and received a degree in Physics. After graduation, I was fortunate to be able to travel to Kolkata, India for eight months to work in wound care and medical clinics, which founded my interest in global health and underserved medicine. I then went on to the University of Kansas in Kansas City for medical school. There, I had the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors for KU’s student-run free clinic, which reinforced my love of serving patients of all ages. This brought me to the wonderful world of Med-Peds.
I was drawn to Baystate for a number of reasons. First off, it is clear in everything the administration does that they truly care about you as a person. From the communications that I had with everyone even before my interview, to the incredibly warm and personalized interviews that I had, this was evident. Secondly, the website will tell you that Baystate has “the happiest residents in the country”, and I could certainly see why that is true. The emphasis on teaching in a challenging but constructive environment is a priority at this program, and it is closely balanced with care for your well-being. Finally, being able to train at a highly reputable institution for both inpatient and outpatient care made this a truly remarkable program.
I recently got a golden retriever puppy, Poe, and in my free time, I love to take him on walks in different parks or trails in the area. I’m also a huge Star Wars nerd and enjoy re-watching the movies to the point of memorization. I love reading, watching professional football and baseball (accompanied by sports-watching food) or trying new restaurants with friends. I am also a huge fan of musicals, and look forward to seeing some in NYC. This is a stellar place to live.
Sara Brenner, MD
University of California San Diego School of Medicine
Hi, I’m Sara! I grew up in a town outside of San Diego in California and went to college at UC Berkeley. I took a few years off to do biomedical research at UC San Diego, where I found my love for medicine and microbes. I subsequently enrolled there for medical school. As a medical student, I had the opportunity to embrace my love of diverse people and explore global health, both in the local community and through the global health training program there.
During my interview day, I was impressed by the rigor and meticulous planning of Baystate’s curriculum, the warm and friendly residents and faculty, and the unique community that Baystate Medical Center serves. More importantly, I observed residents thriving in a supportive environment where they felt like they could succeed in whatever they chose to do!
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, soccer, salsa dancing, tasting and trying to replicate cuisines from different cultures, baking, petting dogs, and exploring nature.
Mitch Milstein, MD
My name is Mitch and I am originally from South Florida. I spent my first 25 years in Florida, only leaving South Florida to attend college at FSU. I got my first taste of cold weather when I left Florida to Penn State College of Medicine.
I was drawn to Baystate because of the message and feel I got interviewing here. All the residents and program staff at Baystate seemed extremely genuine, welcoming, and really invested and interested in me.
I spend most of my spare time catering to my 3 year old Australian Shepherd, but in the rest of my free time I am a Miami sports enthusiast (lets go heat and fins up) and enjoy winding down with movies and cooking (or trying to cook)
Peter Morton, DO
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
My name is Peter Morton, and I am Philadelphia-native who decided to pursue Medicine/Pediatrics after not being able to decide definitively between medicine or pediatrics I have been told that this is a very common trajectory. My interests include music theory, street art, and anything revolving around the animal kingdom, especially entomology. I graduated Muhlenberg College for my undergraduate education, a small liberal arts college in Allentown PA, with a dual degree in Biology and Music theory.
Although physician-ship was my endgame, I essentially had a dual degree in Zoology and Music theory, having not taken human physiology until medical school (instead taking ornithology, invertebrate zoology, comparative anatomy, etc.).
My wife and I share this quality – we have season passes to the Philadelphia Zoo, swam multiple times with turtles on our honeymoon, and visit the Camden waterfront aquarium with alarming frequency when considering our combined income. Music has also always been a passion for me as well, and I try to retain some relative proficiency in Organ, Guitar, and Piano, as well as overall composing when I have the chance. In contrast, following the street art community in Philadelphia is a relatively new hobby.
My wife is a graphic artist by trade, however she entered the street art/mural art scene of Philadelphia (which is the most congested and prolific in the USA) about three years ago. She became infatuated by it and me in turn. Ask me more in person about her presence on the scene – she likes to maintain a level of anonymity about her work.
The interview process is a bit of a decathlon, mentally, physically, and financially. Interestingly, Baystate was my last interview on the trail, a time colloquially considered to be at the zenith of interview fatigue. I write about this to impress on others just how flooring and inspiring Baystate's program, residents, and faculty are. As with many other programs, there is a huge socioeconomic diversity as well as a wide range of patient catchment – things vital to becoming a well-rounded Med/Ped. However, the spirit of Baystate truly captures the spirit of Medicine/Pediatrics, and it only takes a few minutes with the residents to realize that.
If you ever have any questions about the life cycle of wasps, how to put a mural up without getting to much wheat-paste on your jeans, why Debussy is the best combination of the older composers like Bach and the 20th century Avant Garde movement, or the other incredible virtues of Baystate's program and community, I will certainly be your guy.
Mojdeh Mostafavi, MD
Tufts University School of Medicine
My name is Mojdeh Mostafavi and I am originally from Western MA. I grew up in the neighboring town of Amherst, before making the big move (all of 12 miles) to Smith College, where I studied biochemistry. From there, I made my way to Boston, studying medicine at Tufts University. While at Tufts, I was fortunate to rotate in the Mason Square Med-Peds Clinic at Baystate and absolutely loved every moment of it! I am excited to continue my training in Med-Peds at Baystate with the ultimate goal of working with children and adults with developmental special needs.
My academic interests primarily focus on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the ways in which we can improve the experiences of people with ASD in health care.
Outside of medicine, I enjoy spending time with my two mischievous small dogs, spending quality time watching Disney movies with my siblings, and enjoying the beautiful outdoors!
Jamie Schwarz, DO
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
I was born and raised in South Florida, and although I have never lived outside of the sunshine state I am excited to be moving to Western Massachusetts for residency. I attended the University of Florida as an undergraduate student (Go Gators), which is where I earned my bachelor’s degree in Health Science, and, more importantly, where I met my husband! After graduating, I took a year off from school and worked for a Dermatologist back home as a histotech. During this time I assisted with multiple research projects, volunteered at a free clinic, and went on a medical mission trip. It was these experiences, in part, that sparked my desire to work with underserved populations.
I knew early on in third year that I had found the perfect fit with Med-Peds, and Baystate immediately stood out as a remarkable program. I was fortunate enough to learn this first-hand during an away rotation at the Mason Square Clinic. Dr. Wretzel, the faculty, and all the residents were so dedicated to teaching, made me feel at home, and were always so positive! The culture and reputation of the program drew me here, and I cannot wait to spend the next four years learning and continuing to grow.
After school, I love to cook, eat, and hang out with my husband and rescue puppy. We love the outdoors and are always finding new parks and kayaking spots and we can’t wait to experience real mountains and seasons!
Jessica Urso, DO
University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
I grew up in the suburbs of Rochester NY while most of my large extended family hails from Buffalo. This puts me far enough west to call a can of Pepsi “pop,” to live in western NY not upstate NY (trust me there’s a difference) and to have the dubious honor of rooting for Buffalo sports teams since birth. My parents and younger brother are all accountants, but my lack of math skills and an emergency appendectomy in middle school put me on the long road to becoming a physician.
I went to Le Moyne College a small Jesuit liberal arts school in Syracuse NY where I majored in Biology. During my 4 years on the Heights I was active in too many clubs, campus ministry, and attending as many Syracuse University basketball games as I could. I also made life-long friends, one of whom I convinced to move to Springfield with me! After college, I spent a year working as a residential counselor in a group home for young adults with mental illness. It was during this time I realized how much I enjoy working with adolescents and young adults.
I come from an “indoor” family but moving to Maine to attend the University of New England for medical school I became an amateur “outdoor” person. I may have spent more time hiking through Acadia National Park and riding my bike along the coast than in any clinic or classroom. I also developed a passion for L.L. Bean flannel which may count as professional attired in Maine, but probably not in Massachusetts.
My professional interests include primary care, reproductive justice, sexual and gender health, and infectious disease. Outside of work I am a voracious reader always looking for book suggestions, an amateur hiker who is excited to explore the Berkshires, and a terrible dancer who loves live music. My greatest weakness is ice cream and I’m excited to be coming to Massachusetts to hunt down the best cone in the state!
Lauren Wagener, DO
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
My name is Lauren, and I am thrilled to be starting my journey into med-peds at Baystate! I grew up in a large family just outside of Pittsburgh and throughout grade school was a “jack of all trades”, diving headfirst into science, athletics, and art. I went on to study both neuroscience and studio arts at the University of Pittsburgh. There I made wonderful friends at a neuroimaging research lab, where I worked for several years studying traumatic brain injury.
At medical school I highly enjoyed multiple mentorship positions while continuing to learn “everything about everything and everyone!” This initially resulted in significant trouble focusing on a single specialty to pursue, but the discovery of med-peds was a huge moment of clarity: the perfect fit for a nerdy person who loves people! When it came to choosing a residency program, I sought a supportive culture that would mold me into the kind and confident physician-educator I wanted to become. Baystate’s unique learner-manager-teacher model of learning drew me in, but it was the atmosphere that truly sold the program.
My medical interests remain broad but lean toward primary care, medical education, and reproductive health. Outside of medicine I continue to enjoy athletics by running and swimming with my husband, and my alter-ego, “Snarko”, can sometimes be found out on the roller derby track! I also enjoy coaching new roller skaters, dabbling in art projects, and talking Harry Potter with anyone who will listen.
Diana Yusim, MD
Albany Medical College
Hello, my name is Diana Yusim and I am so excited to join the Baystate Med-Peds family!
I was born in Moscow, Russia and my family moved to Brooklyn, New York when I was just a baby. After graduating high school, I entered The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, a 7-year BS/MD program. After graduating from Sophie Davis, I matched to Albany Medical College (AMC) to complete 3rd and 4th year of medical school. Prior to starting at AMC, I earned a Master of Public Health degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center where I focused on childhood obesity and sickle cell disease.
During my fourth year of medical school, I did an away rotation at Baystate Medical Center. During my time there, I felt like Baystate was my second home. I enjoyed working with the doctors at Mason Square and was inspired by their patient advocacy, compassion and commitment toward helping underserved communities. I could feel the warmth and supportive nature of administrative faculty, residents, and attendings. The fact that Baystate is not too far from home was the cherry on top!
I am looking forward to my educational experience at Baystate. I hope to make a difference in the health of my patients and impact the way individuals care for themselves. I can’t wait to see where this new journey brings me. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, trying new food, playing sports, watching Law and Order, and learning how to cook.
Crystal Cobb, DO
Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine
Crystal is a native New Englander and is incredibly pleased to be returning to the region for her residency training! She grew up in the small town of Monmouth in central Maine and attended the University of New Hampshire, graduating in 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science. Crystal initially started her undergraduate studies in pre-law, however she found medicine to be a better fit for her as a field that involves the intersection of advocacy and policy on a fundamentally humanistic level. After undergrad she worked for four years in healthcare before attending Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine outside of Raleigh, NC.
During her interview at Baystate, Crystal felt like she clicked with the residents and faculty. She was drawn by the enthusiastic friendly energy of everyone she met and the supportive training environment. These are just some of the multiple reasons she's excited to spend the next four years training in med-peds at Baystate.
In her free time Crystal enjoys traveling, reading, jogging (slowly!) and spending time with her family and friends. One of her life goals is to travel to all seven continents. She’s made it to four so far!
Anisha Contractor, DO
University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
I was born in India and raised in southern New Hampshire. I completed both undergraduate and graduate degrees at Johns Hopkins University in Neuroscience, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology respectively. I took a brief detour to pursue interests in public health and writing, working for a science-based consumer advocacy non-profit in New York City. Soon there after, I started medical school at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Choosing both Med-Peds and Baystate were choices born out of equal parts research and intuition. I had the pleasure of rotating through both pediatric and medical wards at Baystate during my fourth year of medical school (and experienced a glimpse of Mason Square Clinic). Working alongside Med-Peds residents, I observed a combination of sharp clinical acumen and integrity in delivering patient care.
I look forward to embracing my own growing pains and developing my full potential as young physician because of the supportive academic culture at Baystate. I’m excited to call Western Massachusetts home for the next four years and to foster interests in running, yoga, hiking, and amateur cooking.
Anthony Esposito, DO
New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine
Hey, I’m Anthony. I grew up in a small town on the south shore of Long Island. I went to college at Stony Brook University where I received my BS in biology and shortly after, I attended medical school at NYIT college of osteopathic medicine.
Growing up on Long Island, I was fortunate enough to enjoy the beach during the summer months, but during the winter months, I grew up skiing and snowboarding in Vermont. Although i have too many interests and hobbies to list, some of them include biking, hiking, boating, snowmobiling, basketball, football, dogs, other wildlife (but mostly dogs), and reading.
On my interview day at Baystate, I immediately felt at home. From the moment I walked in, I knew I found the right fit for me. I knew baystate would be at the top of my list of programs before my interview, but after experiencing it firsthand, all of my expectations were not only met, but were exceeded. I can’t wait to see what the next four years has in store for me and I am so excited to start this year!
Nicholas Karr, MD
Florida State University College of Medicine
Nick Karr has finally achieved one of his goals of moving out of Florida after living there all his life. Growing up in a beach town, he longed for snow, cold weather and mountainous terrain. His interest in helping others led him first to receiving a Bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in psychology. He then worked for several years at two inpatient psychiatric hospitals. He gained insights into one of the most disadvantaged populations, those with mental illness. After some personal growth and a little confidence, he attended his alma mater, Florida State University, for medical school.
Nick is ecstatic to be joining the family at Baystate and will hopefully also be one of the countries “happiest residents.” He is most looking forward to practicing what he has learned in medical school, helping the underserved, and continuing to focus on learning.
In the little free time he has after spending time with his wife, daughter, and two dogs, he enjoys board games, hiking, picking things up and putting them down, and lying about how much he enjoys running.
Lucinda Li, DO
Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Virginia Campus
Hello! My name is Lucinda Li. I was born in Manhattan and grew up in Virginia Beach (Hey Virginia Lovers!). As a child, I was a tomboy where I preferred to play outside in nature or gardening with my mom. As a result, I had gained a love for home-grown vegetables! I obtained my degree in Biology from Old Dominion University and gained clinical experiences as an Emergency Medical Technician and Emergency Department Technician.
At a young age, I always have a passion for underserved medical care. I was attracted to Baystate Medical Center-UMMS for its mission to both urban and rural community health. With the Mason Square Neighborhood Health Center, I can focus on my passion and continuously improve myself for primary care. More importantly, I was impressed by the “family” atmosphere at Baystate! During my interview, I could envision my future at this program and being happy within its supportive environment.
On my free time, I am a big foodie. Depending on my craving of the week, I love to dine out with my friends. I’m eager to try all the wonderful cuisines within the area. And let’s be honest, it’s way more fun trying new restaurants with the people you love! After spending most of my life in Virginia, I am ready to move away and explore the Northeast. I am thrilled to live in New England and starting my residency at Baystate Medical Center! Looking forward to all these wonderful changes in my life!
Kathryn O'Brien, DO
Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Virginia Campus
Hi! I’m Katie O'Brien. I grew up in the amazing Philadelphia suburb of West Chester, Pennsylvania. I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology at Temple University in Philadelphia, and played club soccer (my favorite hobby!) all through college. Afterwards I moved to Virginia to complete my medical degree at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg.
It quickly became obvious while I was in medical school that Medicine/Pediatrics is the best specialty out there! I wanted a program with a strong Med/Peds presence, and Baystate truly exceeded my expectations. Not only does Baystate have a strong presence within the hospital, but are recognized for their strong national presence as well. Additionally, the residents and faculty I met during my interview were amazing. They were so down to earth, friendly, supportive, and most importantly, all seemed truly happy to be here!
In my free time I still enjoy playing and watching soccer, going on hikes and adventures, cooking meals with my husband, watching the occasional Netflix movie and cheering for my Philadelphia sports teams. I can’t wait to get started here at Baystate and see what adventures are in store for the next four years!
Thomas Presti, MD
University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Hi, I’m Tom. I grew up in Madison, CT where I spent my summers with my family on the beach (although most of the time I was on the water sailing). I always thought I would grow up to be an astronaut, but I’ve realized that being a Med-Peds doctor is close enough.
I did my undergraduate at UConn Storrs where I majored in Molecular and Cellular Biology. I competed in college on the sailing team. You may know that there are more cows than water in Storrs, so we often had to travel to other towns for practice. After college I took a year off to do biochemistry research and then attended UConn School of Medicine.
During the summer between first and second year of med school, I completed a cross country bike trip from Seattle back to Connecticut with four of my classmates. My interests include all things Star Wars, reading nonfiction books, cooking, sailing, biking, and hanging out with friends, family, and fiancée (she’ll be completing a Pediatric Dentistry Residency in Hartford, CT).
I read online that the residents at Baystate are some of the happiest in the nation! During my interview, I found that the residents displayed some of the most important values that I was looking for in my colleagues. There were welcoming and supportive of one another. Additionally, the program director Sharon expressed that this residency could be tailored to different academic interests. Most of all, I really felt at home and I’m excited to be a Baystate Med-Peds resident.
Julieta Rodriguez, MD
Albany Medical College
Hey! I’m Julieta Rodriguez but I go by Juli which is pronounced like Hulu but with an “i” at the end. I was born and raised in sunny San Diego. I attended the University of California Irvine for my B.S. in Biological Sciences and B.A. in Anthropology. After that I headed back home to SD for my MPH in Epidemiology from San Diego State University and did research with the University of California San Diego in tuberculosis, hepatitis C, HIV, drug users, and sex workers. During this time I worked at an Institutional Review Board and maintained my own clients doing research in a multitude of fields. Upon completion of my MPH I did a post-baccalaureate program at the University of Buffalo where I learned what snow actually was prior to enrolling at Albany Medical College.
During my interview trail I met a lot of different people but in all honesty the group of residents that stood out to me in the most positive light were the ones at Baystate. They tell you to choose the residency program that makes you feel at home and when interviewing at Baystate I not only felt comfortable with the residents but also with the other interviewees. I think the fact that the residents were not only able to make me feel comfortable with them but they evoked such a chill atmosphere that everybody got along made me realize that Baystate would be able to offer me the best environment to excel in during one of the hardest parts of our careers.
Aside from the medical world I love soccer whether it is playing indoor, playing outdoor, or watching a game (especially Mexico). I do enjoy watching other sports like hockey (go Kings!) and baseball (Blue Jays and Padres). I also love to cook, try new restaurants, travel, garden, and enjoy fishing…basically if it gets me outside and there will be food I’m down.