The Residency Update

E-Newsletter of the 
UMass Fitchburg Family Medicine Residency

June/July 2011

Inside This Edition
Graduation 2011
News Around the Residency
A Conversation with Residency Graduate Karla Cristo, MD
Celebrations and Congratulations!

Graduation 2011!


From left: Sean Haley, DO; Mo Ayach, MD; Ana Russ, DO; James Ledwith, MD; Residency Administrator Elaine Desjardins, Awais Siddiki, MD and Ivan Briones, MD


On Friday, June 24, friends and family members joined faculty and staff for the Class of 2011's Graduation Dinner and Ceremonies at the Chocksett Inn in Sterling. A highlight of the evening was a video/slideshow tribute to the graduating class by their PGY-2 colleagues, coordinated by Katie Fitzgerald.


Congratulations to our five graduating residents and our two graduating Sports Medicine fellows!


Sean Haley, DO, and Chief Resident, will be joining Family Medical Associates, a Family Medicine practice with offices in Canton and Seekonk.  


Mouhanad Ayach, MD has been accepted into a Surgical Residency at Berkshire Health Systems in Pittsfield, MA.  


Ana Russ, DO will be married this summer and is still choosing where she will decide to practice. Congratulations on your wedding, Ana!   


Awais Siddiki, MD has accepted a position with Stanley Street Treatment and Resources Center in Fall River, MA.


Ivan Briones, MD has been accepted into the Hospice and Palliative Care Fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center and University Health Systems.  


From left: James Broadhurst, MD; Sports Medicine Fellow Gabriel Lurvey, DO; Sports Medicine Fellow Bradley Bley, DO; Katherine Riggert, DO and Herb Stevenson, MD.


Sports Medicine Fellow Bradley Bley, DO is joining an Orthopedic Group in Delaware as their Primary Care Sports Medicine Physician. Sports Medicine Fellow Gabriel Lurvey, DO is joining a Sports Medicine Clinic in Nashua, NH working with another Primary Care Sports Medicine Physician. Both Bradley and Gabriel will also be working with local high schools and colleges in the area.  


The residents honored the faculty members below with awards as well: 


Teacher of the Year Award - Katherine Riggert, DO


Specialist of the Year Award - The Pulmonary/Intensivists Group: Payam Aghassi, MD,FCCP; Plutarco Castellanos, MD and Corey Saltin, DO, FCCP


The residents also presented thank you gifts to Program Director, James Ledwith, MD; Elaine Desjardins, Residency Administrator; and to Administrative Assistants Ellen Becker and 

Carol Roberts.

 News Around the Residency


Welcome to Our New Interns!

We are delighted that our six new interns have hit the ground running over the last week and have had the chance to mingle with residents and staff both at Graduation and at the summer barbecue. Welcome to all of our new PGY-1s!  To read their full bios, just click here. 


From left:

Nicolas Hernandez, MD, Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara in Mexico

Stephanie Muriglan, MD, Saint George's University (new member of Global Health Track)

Samantha Richards, DO, University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine

Jennifer Lin, DO, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Ryan Montoya, MD, UMass Medical School

Luisa Pineda, MD, Ross University             


Narrative Writing

We encourage all residents to write reflectively - on training experiences, new insights, anything that reflects on your role in caring for your patients, their families, or the community. Please consider sharing these reflections through the Thursday Memo or feel free to submit them to Michael Smith for posting on our residency website. 


Call Schedule

The new duty hour rules produced major changes in the resident schedules. The most significant changes are ending the PGY2-3 call duty after 24 hours and PGY-1 duty after 16 hours. To facilitate the transfer of care and allow the post call resident to assist with daily rounds on weekend days, we arranged a staggered duty schedule for PGY2-3 residents to cover FMIS. The resident on call on Friday night will assume coverage duty at 11 AM with the late morning sign-out.  A new resident will cover after 10 AM on Saturday, and 9 AM on Sunday.   



During July preceptors will provide more intense focus on direct supervision with specific formative feedback to all residents. Use these opportunities to address challenging areas.  

Faculty, staff and residents relaxed at Saima Park in Fitchburg on July 1 for the annual Residency barbecue

Collaborative Care
Team-based care will be essential to future models of care delivery. Our commitment of behavioral health resources to the family health center provides an opportunity to receive guidance and work as a team with our colleagues to address the care needs of our patients. In the near future, a nurse will join each care team as well.  More on this when arrangements are complete. Collaboration and joint visits will be a focus of our care and training this year. Residents interested in developing this project are invited to join a curriculum planning group. Contact Jim Ledwith or Elaine Desjardins if
Dr. Nicholas Apostoleris will serve as the Chair of the Education Committee for the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. He continues to serve on the organization's board of directors. The Education Committee is responsible for overseeing technical assistance and training activities, including national and regional training conferences for the Council, which is a HRSA grantee tasked with providing training and technical assistance to all HRSA HCH grantees. He will work to bring a stronger educational component to Health Care for the Homeless programs nationwide.

Dr. Felix Chang participated in the New Medical Director's Training Course, organized by the National Association of Community Health Centers. The program was held in Boston on June 14, 2011.

Stefan Topolski, MD made several presentations on the application of complex systems at the
International Conference on Complex Systems in Quincy, MA which ran from June 26 to July 1. He will also present his work to the Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology and Life Sciences in Orange, CA in August. 
Upcoming Events
July 28-30, 2011
Residency Recruiting Fair at AAFP National Conference
Attendees this year will be Kristin Kavulich, Nancy Larkin, Katie Fitzgerald, Jim Ledwith
and Mike Smith.

September 14-17, 2011

AAFP Scientific Assembly in Orlando, FL

October 21-23, 2011

Family Medicine Education Consortium Annual Meeting
Coco Key Hotel and Water Resort, Danvers, MA
Includes a residency fair  

With the Topping Off Ceremony on May 25, construction
of the new health center is moving steadily to its
early 2012 completion

Valeu! (Thanks!)
July 1 was day one of our new call schedule and duty hours. The many puzzle pieces didn't fit together as hoped and we were shorthanded for coverage of the inpatient service. Kristin Kavulich did a great job holding things together while recovering from overnight call duty and being up on two preceding nights for continuity deliveries. Mike Lowney pitched in for morning rounds along with our six new PGY1s. Thank you!

July Residency Spotlight

A Conversation with Karla Cristo, MD

2010 Residency Graduate



The journey to becoming a physician was a long, fulfilling one for Karla Cristo, MD, measured not only by the miles she traveled from her native Brazil, but also by the milestones along her path.  

"This was the place I fell in love with," Karla says during a brief break between patients at her Fitchburg practice. Employed by HealthAlliance CPC Family Practice since her 2010 graduation from the UMass Fitchburg Family Medicine Residency, Karla adds, "I feel very welcome and happy here."  


A native of Vitoria, Brazil, Karla began her medical studies in 1989 at Escola de Medicina de Santa Casa de Misericorda. Upon graduating in 1994, she practiced Family Medicine in chiefly underserved communities, which helped her develop an affinity for the care she would later provide in central Massachusetts.


In 1999, Karla relocated to Brasilia, the capital city, to begin a two-year Internal Medicine residency at Hospital Regional Taguatinga/Fundacao Hospitalar do Distrito Federal. It was upon her 2001 completion of her residency that Karla first contemplated re-locating to the U.S. to join her parents.


"I always thought about going to Boston," to be with her family, Karla explains. Arriving in the U.S and moving to Revere, MA, where she still lives, Karla conducted research in Alzheimer's disease with the Neurology Department at Boston University.


She continued with another research position at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where she published two papers on topics in endocrinology and pediatrics. But after re-locating thousands of miles, Karla looked no further than an hour's drive as she considered her next move.


"The Fitchburg residency was my first... and my last interview," she laughs, noting that she loved the diversity of the community. While her native language is Portugese, she has since learned to become fluent in Spanish through caring for her patients. Joining UMass Fitchburg in 2007, Karla would be elected as chief resident. "I had a wonderful year as chief," she recalls.

Pursuing her particular interests in women's health and geriatrics, her Quality Improvement project last year focused on osteopororis research. As graduation approached, she says, she knew that staying on with the UMass HealthAlliance clinical system was "the right choice."

Karla and her husband Roberto are parents to 8-year-old Victoria and 5-year-old Samuel. She enjoys working only a couple of miles from where she trained for three years. "In life, we have to have goals," she emphasizes. "I'm a physician who loves my patients and enjoys what I am doing." 


Michael Smith, MS, Associate Director of Admissions, would like to thank Dr. Cristo for speaking with him for this profile 

               Celebrations and Congratulations!                    


Celebrating Our New Patient-Centered Home 

Our farewell to graduating residents coincided with the the appearance of the first walls in our new building! Thanks to CEO Mick Huppert and Public Relations Coordinator Marcia Flynn, we were able to secure a panel of the wall board for all members of our care team to sign. The hard work and compassion of each team member is integral to the success of the health center.

A signature moment: Residents and other care team members
  add their names to a wall board of the new health center  


Congratulations to Minh Tran DO, 1999 graduate of the UMass Fitchburg Family Medicine Residency, on recently becoming board certified!  At our request, Minh has provided us with an update on his career path since graduation:  


"After completing my residency in 1999, I pursued a personal business opportunity: I co-founded and ran a successful private dental clinic. I returned to the medical field in June 2006 and from that point completed all board examinations. I rejoined clinical practice in 2009 and recently became AOA board certified in Family Medicine. I presently work at Patient First, an urgent care company, in Fredericksburg, VA where I have just been named its assistant medical director.

My story reveals the undying commitment and the resourcefulness of the staff at Fitchburg Family Medicine to its alumni. Without them, my returning to medicine after a ten-year hiatus would not be possible. I am living an American dream, a second chance at the "big apple" and I am proud to be an alumnus of Fitchburg Family Medicine."


And whether you have been with our residency for one week or for more than two years, we never forget to remember our resident birthdays!

5/16  Matt Plosker (PGY-2)

5/25  Luisa Pineda  (PGY-1)

6/11  Tim Lowney (PGY-2)

7/18  Nicolas Hernandez (PGY-1) 


If osteopathy deals with bones...then why is this last item so tongue-in-cheek?
Dr. Ledwith
reports that the Tuesday evening osteopathic manipulative therapy clinic is running smoothly with active resident participation. Recently, Elliot Schaeffer, PGY-2 was caught trying to "manipulate" his program director. After "pulling Dr. Ledwith's leg" a few times with limited success, Elliot used a different strategy and "cracked his neck."  Dr. Ledwith is recovering nicely and will soon be enrolled in our osteopathic terminology course.  


Thank you to very much to Marcia Maglione Flynn, Rick Swanson, and Herb Stevenson, MD for contributing photos to this month's newsletter. 

Got news for our next newsletter?

Contact Dr. Ledwith at 
or Michael Smith, Associate Director of Admissions, at