By Wendy Sarubbi | June 15, 2015 2:13 pm

The College of Medicine celebrated its new Internal Medicine residency’s first year June 11 with awards, thanks and a pledge to continue bringing more trained physicians to Central Florida. The residency program, in partnership with the Orlando VA Medical Center and Osceola Regional Medical Center, graduated 16 first-year interns and two chief residents and prepared to welcome 17 more medical school graduates this summer.

Graduation “is a very important first in the life of our college and our Medical City,” said Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and founding dean of the six-year-old medical school. “Your success is our success.”

“Pioneering spirit” was a phrase used by many to describe how three independent health organizations had worked together to form the new residency and how the 16 interns and one transfer resident had taken a chance on a brand new program and eagerly helped build it. “Residents, your work has not been easy. It’s never easy being a pioneer,” said Dr. Abdo Asmar, director of the residency and an associate professor of medicine at UCF. “You hit bumps in the road, unexpected challenges. But you all have been fearless, compassionate learners. You have put patients first. We cannot thank you enough for your excellence in serving as our charter cohort.”

Resident Awards 5Three residents and three faculty received awards for excellence. Resident Gerard Chaaya received the Student Educator Award for outstanding teaching of UCF medical students.





Resident Awards 6Resident Bruna Pellini-Ferreira received the Clinical Skills Award for excellence in the diagnosis and management of patients.





Resident Awards 8Resident Mustafa Kinaan was honored with the Humanitarian Award for extraordinary compassion in patient care and outstanding ethical and moral conduct.





Resident Awards 2The Osler Award for Teaching in an Ambulatory Rotation went to Drs. Analia Castiglioni and Arneda Wright.





Resident Awards 4The Osler Award for Teaching in In-patient and Subspecialty went to Dr. Rami Hanna.






Education was a theme of the evening, as participants emphasized the important role of residents as both learners and teachers and the importance of academic endeavors such as research in patient care settings. Four third-year UCF medical students, who are doing their Internal Medicine clerkship at Osceola Regional, attended the celebration, saying they wanted to thank their resident instructors who were giving them important real-world lessons in compassionate patient care.

Medical students Robby Pride and Ryan Burkholder said their Internal Medicine clerkship at Osceola Regional has allowed them to follow first-hand a patient’s hospital journey – including those treated for a crisis in the emergency room who are then admitted to the hospital and patients whose condition worsens and are taken to the Intensive Care Unit. While the first two years of medical school focused on the science of medicine, working with patients at Osceola Regional has shown the students how patients and their families cope with disease and healing and the role that compassionate doctors play in that recovery. Working alongside residents means learning is happening everywhere and the hospital culture is based on teaching and growing professionally, they said. “It’s an innovative approach where we’re included in all patient encounters,” Pride said. “Everyone is learning together at the same time.”

Dr. Angel Colon-Molero, the residency’s first program director, was an important leader in creating this culture. A VA physician for more than 25 years, Dr. Colon-Molero recently accepted a new physician at VA headquarters in Washington D.C. where he will lead four centers of innovation, including Orlando’s new VA hospital. In thanking Dr. Colon-Molero for getting the partnership residency off the ground and accredited, Dr. Edward Ross, UCF’s chair of internal medicine, said the new program “needed a hero to count on, an angel. He is our angel.”

image1Also recognized were the program’s first two chief residents, Drs. Olga Karasik and Mahmoud Farhoud. Dr. Asmar noted that being chief resident at a brand new residency program “takes its own kind of pioneering spirit, its own kind of courage.” Chiefs are supposed to have all the answers, said Dr. Asmar, himself a former chief resident at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital. UCF’s new chiefs had no previous experience at the Orlando VA or Osceola Regional. They hadn’t grown up those programs, didn’t have first-hand knowledge of all their policies, procedures and protocols. The two young leaders had to learn on the fly as they were supervising brand new doctors. “You just did what was needed, and what was needed was tremendous,” Dr. Asmar said. “Let me tell you, we would not be here today if it were not for your hard work, commitment, and dedication.”

Dr. Karasik returns to Osceola Regional next year as assistant program director of the residency. Dr. Farhoud will enter a fellowship in heart failure and transplantation at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland. He said the last year had been “the most productive year in my career so far. I feel like I grew up.” And he says he wants to stay in academic medicine when he finishes his fellowship. “I love teaching,” he said, “because you’re creating new doctors for the community and focusing on the quality of those doctors. You’re helping people at the same time you’re creating more doctors who can help people.”

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