On Friday, April 17, more than 100 Einstein fourth-year medical students graduated a month early so they could begin working in various hospitals on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Among them were 33 newly-minted doctors who elected to remain at Montefiore to assist the Medicine teams treating COVID-19 patients at the Moses, Weiler, and Wakefield hospitals.
“I spent my entire life wanting to be a doctor so I could be useful in exactly this type of situation,” said Elana Levy, MD, who was among the five “coalition physicians” that reported to Wakefield Hospital on Monday, for their first day as practicing physicians. “As someone who is interested in infectious disease and critical care, I think I will get a lot of benefit from learning in the hospital during this crisis,” added Dr. Levy, who is set to begin her residency training in Montefiore’s Moses-Weiler Internal Medicine residency program in July.
“We’re really excited and happy to have them here,” said Grace Kajita, MD, Director of the Wakefield Internal Medicine Program, who is overseeing the team of the coalition physicians at that hospital.
Fifteen of the early graduates were assigned to Moses and 12 new physicians went to Weiler hospital, where they will be working on all COVID-19 units as well as mixed units with COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.
“They will be active members of the team and the oversight is being done by mentors from the medical school, the GME office, and the residency programs,” said Lauren Shapiro, MD, Director of the Moses-Weiler Residency Program, who is overseeing a team of coalition physicians at those hospitals.
On Friday, the 33 early graduates attended a video orientation and Q&A led by Catherine Skae, MD, Associate Dean and VP for Graduate Medical Education (Pediatrics). “I couldn’t be more in awe of these brand-new physicians and their commitment to our patients and staff,” said Dr. Skae. “We are so fortunate to have so many of them sign up to join the frontlines.”
As part of the orientation, Montefiore President and CEO Dr. Philip Ozuah; Andrew Racine, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer; Josh Nosanchuk, Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education; Yaron Tomer, Chair, Department of Medicine; and others congratulated the new grads and welcomed them on board.
“This was a truly unique experience,” said Dr. Tomer, who addressed the graduates on Friday by phone, wearing a mask while on service on a COVID-19 unit at Moses, Klau 4. He offers the following words to the new doctors who are embarking on this incredible journey at Montefiore:
“Dear Einstein students of the class of 2020 graduating today. First and foremost, congratulations on this amazing achievement! After years of hard work, you have graduated from one of the top medical schools in the country. On your graduation, you have joined the global community of physicians taking the sacred oath to do everything in our capacity to protect our patients, to heal them, help them, and alleviate their suffering. We also took an oath to put our patients’ best interests above our own. Soon, when you will be deployed at the frontlines of the COVID-19 epidemic you will do exactly that. You, the graduating medical students are the future of our profession, and when I see the dedication, compassion, and courage you have shown volunteering at the frontlines of the COVID-19 epidemic immediately after graduation I know the future of our profession is bright. I know that you all aim high and you will succeed. You make us all very proud. Congratulations!”
Giving Back to the Bronx Community
These words rang true for early graduate Ana Paula Morales Allende, who was assigned to work at Moses Hospital until the end of May, and then will begin her Vascular Surgery residency training at Montefiore in July.
“I feel a big attachment to this community,” said Dr. Morales Allende, a Queens native, who has been volunteering at OHS since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic. “Even for the graduates who are here for only a month helping to treat COVID-19 patients, it’s right to give back to the people they learned from.”
Dr. Tushara Surapaneni, who will be working as a coalition physician at Weiler Hospital, is one such early graduate who hopes to give back to the Bronx community before heading in June to Oakland, CA, for an Emergency Medicine residency at Highland Hospital. She credits her experience in the Bronx for influencing her decision to seek a training program that serves as a “safety-net hospital” for an underserved/vulnerable community. Dr. Surapaneni said, “I have no doubt that working at Montefiore will prepare me in unique ways, just as it prepared me for all of the patients I saw during my EM sub-internships.”
Posted on: Monday, April 20, 2020