People Profile – Dr. Christine Petrin

Christine Petrin, MD, (PGY 4; Internal Medicine & Pediatrics)

Christine Petrin, MD, (PGY 4; Internal Medicine & Pediatrics) originally moved to DC to work on health policy, specifically related to health services delivery and improving access to care. She soon discovered, however, that she might be able to make a more tangible and immediate impact by becoming a physician. And that, as a physician, she’d still be able to advocate for the health policies most important to her.

“Watching my mentors have a broad impact on far-reaching federal policy while also maintaining the smaller, but even more impactful, individual connection with their patients led me to consider medicine for myself,” Dr. Petrin reflects.

Around the time that Dr. Petrin started her residency, firearms became the number one cause of death for children aged 1 to 17 in the United States, surpassing motor vehicles. It was through her residency, and after seeing painful and often preventable gun violence in the community and across the country, that Dr. Petrin would develop a passion for her current advocacy work: gun violence prevention.

“I have spent the last four years learning how to treat pediatric infectious disease and childhood cancers, but I had no training on how to counsel my patients and their families on safe firearm storage,” Dr. Petrin explains.

Seeking to address this need and to promote change, Dr. Petrin helped MedStar Health partner with Brady, the nation’s oldest gun violence prevention group, to develop a firearm safety and violence prevention curriculum for trainees.

In addition to the opportunity to make a difference with her advocacy work, Dr. Petrin loves that her specialty allows her to care for patients of any age, especially the families she’s been able to build relationships with over time. She also enjoys the transition of care from pediatrics to adult medicine.

“Being the bridge and point of coordination for both healthy and medically complex adolescents and young adults as they navigate that transition is a really rewarding and special part of our specialty,” she explains.

Soon, Dr. Petrin will return to New York City for her first job post-residency. As a lover of all things theater, she looks forward to taking advantage of the city’s theater scene and plans to see the New York City Ballet’s performance of Jewels soon.

As she moves on from MedStar Health GME, Dr. Petrin says her co-residents have been the key to her success, making residency a little more fun even when the days are tough. Her message to incoming residents and fellows to help get through those tough days: “Always plan a post-call brunch to celebrate after a string of night shifts.”

People Profile – Dr. Karina Charipova

Karina Charipova, MD, (PGY-3, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery)

Karina Charipova, MD, (PGY-3, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery) never imagined that a job would be where she’d find such an incredible, supportive community.

Dr. Charipova began her medical education at Georgetown University School of Medicine and, through the MedStar Health-Georgetown University Partnership, was able to start forming the relationships with MedStar Health faculty and associates that she relies on today. Now, some of her biggest mentors, and even friends, are the people she first worked with during medical school.

Looking back, Dr. Charipova is thankful that she put effort into her relationships at work and knows that stepping out of her comfort zone was essential to forming these connections. “I am an introvert through and through, but getting to know the people I work with has been worth every initially awkward interaction. Residency can be challenging, and we spend so much time at work that finding unity in that experience makes every hard day just a little easier,” she reflects.

As a Graduate Medical Education Committee (GMEC) representative, Dr. Charipova serves as a liaison between residents and the system-wide GMEC and helps to ensure that MedStar Health GME administrators are in touch with the issues residents care most about.

Dr. Charipova also supports the MedStar Health-Georgetown University Partnership—now from a different vantage point than when she was a student—by helping with the organization of the plastic surgery rotation for third-year medical students, including orienting students and serving as their point of contact during the rotation. “Teaching and working with learners has amounted to some of the most valuable experiences within my own education, and I hope to make medical education a big part of my future career,” she says.

As someone who hopes to one day work in an academic setting, Dr. Charipova values the many ways in which plastic surgeons are able to collaborate across surgical and non-surgical disciplines to help patients, especially those who are affected by chronic medical problems. She also appreciates that plastic surgery is much more than meets the eye. “We care for patients young and old, healthy and not, in the hospital and in ambulatory settings. We are given the privilege to operate all over the body and to work toward making our patients look and feel whole again,” she explains.

Dr. Charipova hopes that the future of medicine will mean the United States becoming healthier overall. “I hope that new developments—like those in technology, innovation, and AI—can help even the playing field instead of just making the best medical care even better. We have a long way to go when it comes to making our country a healthier place, and I hope that we do not lose sight of that,” she says.

Dr. Charipova has called the “DMV” home for some time now. Though she was born in Russia and first immigrated to Toronto, she came to Northern Virginia with her parents in the early 2000s. A big NBA fan, Dr. Charipova says when she’s at home, more often than not, there’s a game on in the background while she catches up on work.

People Profile – Dr. Christina (Kan Hong) Zheng

Christina (Kan Hong) Zheng, DO, (PGY-3, General Surgery)

Christina (Kan Hong) Zheng, DO, (PGY-3, General Surgery) has a hard time sitting still. (Well, except for the time she finished a 16-scoop ice cream cone by herself in one sitting…a moment she admits may not have been her healthiest but will go down as one of her proudest!)

Originally leading Dr. Zheng to medicine was a love of and curiosity for science and an interest in helping others. Surgery was a good fit, she says, because it allowed her to keep moving and to use her hands to get things done.

When she isn’t using her hands to perform the intricate work of a surgeon, you might find Dr. Zheng snapping pictures for the MedStar Baltimore General Surgery Residency Instagram account. As the main photographer and poster, Dr. Zheng says @medstarbaltimoresurgery was initially launched to reach other aspiring surgeons. No one expected the tremendous support of residents in other programs and specialties or the interest of the general surgery residents’ families and friends. Encouraged by the response, the residents are happy to share even more of their day-to-day with their audience because, as Dr. Zheng explains, “We love our program, and we want to share that love with others.”

Despite her fondness for her residency program, Dr. Zheng readily admits that residency has come with its share of challenges. She reflects, “I’m not sure how I got stuck with this group of wonderful and supportive beings, but they’re the ones helping me get through a difficult residency.”

On @medstarbaltimoresurgery, Dr. Zheng documents the residents’ activities, like a recent cardiovascular and thoracic anatomy lab where they learned to perform chest tube placements, tracheotomies, open thoracotomies, and exposure of great vessels, among other procedures. She also highlights some of the things that help residents stay upbeat—including their furriest family members, featured for National Pet Day; morning yoga led by one of their coworkers before grand rounds; and some friendly competition during their annual man vs. food contest.

To other aspiring surgeons or residents—maybe even those following along on @medstarbaltimoresurgery—Dr. Zheng offers the following: “Regardless of your stage in training, there will be as many ups as there will be downs. We are all continuing to grow. Take any and all opportunities to learn, be adaptable and flexible, and stay humble.”

People Profile – Dr. Sharmeen Husain, MD

Shar Husain, MD, (PGY-5, General Surgery)

Shar Husain, MD, (PGY-5, General Surgery) will soon complete her fifth year of residency and join the faculty at the MedStar Health (Baltimore) Residency Program in General Surgery. While many of her peers will go on to fellowship training, Dr. Husain is eager to pursue a different calling—”to help fill the country’s need for community general surgeons.”

Dr. Husain recalls, at a young age, being exposed to the issues associated with a lack of accessible healthcare. Since then, she’s always wanted to be able to do something to counteract that.

Dr. Husain also loves that her specialty offers her the ability to help people through some of the most dire points in their lives, especially since, she says, “Surgery often has a direct and immediate impact on someone’s lifestyle and well-being.”

The MedStar Health (Baltimore) Residency Program in General Surgery is a small and close-knit program where everything is truly a team effort, according to Dr. Husain.

To highlight this camaraderie and tell others about the program, Dr. Husain manages its X account, @MedStarBaltSurg (which is definitely worth a follow!).

“We have a lot of fun and love working with each other. It’s an excellent place to train and we do some pretty amazing things, and I want to share that with the world,” Dr. Husain explains.

While Dr. Husain writes and posts the content, she says @MedStarBaltSurg is also a team effort as other residents and faculty regularly contribute photos—and are often the subject of posts! Last year’s Halloween pumpkin carving contest, a trip to Boston for the American College of Surgeons meeting, recent grand round presentations, and a welcome to the new general surgery interns are just some of the topics that have been featured.

Through @MedStarBaltSurg, Dr. Husain hopes to reach not only MedStar Health GME learners and faculty, as well as hospital staff, but also incoming potential MedStar Health GME residency candidates.

While colleagues may know Dr. Husain as their team’s social media chief, ready to capture all of the fun and interesting moments of their MedStar Health GME residencies, they may not know she’s also musically inclined and plays both the clarinet and the saxophone.

People Profiles – Dr. Jason Crowner

Jason Crowner, MD, Vascular Surgery

For Jason Crowner, MD, (Vascular Surgery), his specialty is the perfect intersection of the things he likes most about being a physician: his patients and the opportunity for problem solving.

“Vascular surgery,” he explains, “usually has a couple different right answers to a problem. The key is to choose the one that works best for the patient. So, figuring that out with the patient is one of my favorite parts of my job.”

Dr. Crowner pursued medicine not only because he liked the idea of helping people but also because he found the biology and physiology of the body to be interesting and amazing. “The vascular system is fascinating—how our body works to get blood flow to places that don’t have it…how our body can adjust to vessels that become narrowed or obstructed­. When I learned about vascular surgery, all of this came together and just seemed to fit,” Dr. Crowner explains.

To learn more about the human body, Dr. Crowner performs clinical research on peripheral arterial disease and operative techniques for treatment. With the help of MedStar Health GME residents and fellows, as well as medical students, Dr. Crowner also studies how surgical education can be improved. For example, his team recently completed a project that assessed medical students’ opinions of surgery as a career and the factors that would encourage or discourage them from pursuing a career in surgery. Another study currently underway is a surgical simulation project that assesses multi-tasking and stress as it relates to surgical teaching. Through this study, his team hopes to determine how these factors influence the overall ability to train surgical residents.

Dr. Crowner says his partners and his chief have been instrumental in his own surgical career and his success at MedStar Health.

“Having people you work with who are there to back you up and help you out is vital.” To foster supportive relationships with peers and attendings, he offers the following advice to MedStar Health GME learners, “Be nice to everyone, and ask for help early.”

Dr. Crowner is originally from a small town in Illinois called Nauvoo. He attended Illinois State University for undergrad and Southern Illinois University for medical school before traveling to the University of North Carolina for surgical training. Eventually, he made his way to Baltimore, Maryland, where he now lives, to join MedStar Health. If Dr. Crowner had his way—namely if student loans didn’t exist(!)—he says, “I would be very tempted to live the ‘van life’ with my family and travel around the US/world.”

People Profiles – Dr. Eric Wisotzky

Eric Wisotzky, MD, (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation) says that a passion for helping people get through difficult life experiences is what led him to pursue a career in medicine, and in particular, his specialty. The philosophy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), he explains, is based on helping patients participate in the things that are most meaningful to them—for example, family roles and recreational activities—despite debilitating medical challenges.

Dr. Wisotzky credits his mentors at MedStar Health with his own ability to pursue what he most values. “From day one, my mentors have supported me in pursuing the parts of my career that are most meaningful to me: caring for the patients I’m so passionate about, pursuing the academic areas I’m interested in, and working with and leading training for medical students, residents, and fellows,” he says.

Now a mentor himself, Dr. Wisotzky reminds his residents and fellows to really observe their attendings and to try and put themselves in their attendings’ shoes. “They are not so distant from you,” Dr. Wisotzky says. “Try to imagine yourself doing what they do each day. This will help you maximize your training to prepare you for what your attendings do.”

Though he always planned to attend medical school, Dr. Wisotzky majored in theater as an undergraduate. One of his theater professors once offered a piece of unexpected advice to help him prepare for his future and, in his professor’s words, to make him a better doctor. The advice was to take an improvisation class, and only later would Dr. Wisotzky fully appreciate its impact. “As a physician, we have to think so quickly on our feet and respond to a variety of unexpected situations. I truly believe that this improv class helped prepare me for the adventures each day would present,” he says.

Dr. Wisotzky serves as the residency program director for PM&R and an associate designated institutional official on MedStar Health GME’s Executive Team. He is also a subgroup leader on the MedStar Health Academic Affairs Working Group for Racial Justice, where he’s had the opportunity to listen and to learn about what residents and fellows from under-represented backgrounds need to feel supported and thrive in MedStar Health’s learning environments. In partnership with Georgetown University Medical Center, the Working Group for Racial Justice focuses on developing and implementing sustainable positive change in MedStar Health’s clinical learning environments.

Staff Profile: Meghan Shaver

Meghan Shaver, Corporate Director of MedStar Health GME

Meghan Shaver, the Corporate Director of MedStar Health GME, has seen the health system undergo a lot of change over her 20-year tenure. Her career within GME has experienced some changes, too.

Meghan started out as the program coordinator for the psychiatry department at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Over the course of her career, she’s had the opportunity to work in several other hospitals in the system, including Union Memorial Hospital, Harbor Hospital, and Washington Hospital Center, and she’s seen firsthand the transformation that has taken place throughout the system.

“Twenty years ago, each hospital really was doing its own thing. The way we have brought them together under one umbrella to share resources and ideas…to form a consortium and work together as a team has been really inspiring to see over the years,” she reflected.

First accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) in 2017, the MedStar Health GME Consortium is one of the largest and most innovative GME programs in the country.

In Meghan’s current role as Corporate Director of MedStar Health GME, she oversees this accreditation process for MedStar Health GME Consortium’s 72 accredited programs and nine GME programs in specialties like podiatric surgery and oral and maxillofacial surgery. Meghan was instrumental in the consortium’s recent ACGME evaluation (a process GME programs must undergo every several years to maintain accreditation), in which MedStar Health GME received no citations or areas for improvement (AFIs).

In addition to ensuring that the more than 100 different resident and fellowship programs within MedStar Health GME are operating as one team, the MedStar Health GME Consortium brings other benefits to residents and fellows as well. The consortium’s medical education and clinical partnership with Georgetown University means that clinical faculty, residents, ​and fellows are the primary teachers​ and mentors for medical students at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Depending on the time of the year, Meghan supports other needs of the MedStar Health GME team, including onboarding new residents and fellows and reviewing resident, fellow, and faculty survey results.

In her role on the Metrics and Outcomes Subcommittee of the Graduate Medical Education Committee (GMEC), Meghan also helps to guide the work of MedStar Health GME by evaluating the performance of each program and determining which ones may need additional attention.

Outside of work, Meghan enjoys spending time with her husband and kids at their home in Maryland.

Staff Profile: Gordon Simonett

Gordon Simonett, Database Manager

Gordon Simonett credits his West Indian heritage as the source of his sunny disposition and eternal optimism. Gordon moved to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago when he was just eight years old and became a U.S. citizen in 2001.

Gordon brings his can-do attitude to his role as Database Manager for MedStar Health GME. When he started in this role eight years ago, each hospital within the system largely managed its own resident data. To ensure that data was being recorded consistently across the system and with a single set of best practices in mind, Gordon’s job was, in his words, to become the “control tower” for all things New Innovations for MedStar Health GME.

New Innovations is the software that MedStar Health GME uses to manage onboarding, program evaluations, procedure logging, and other aspects of our residents’ and fellows’ GME experience. New Innovations, Gordon explains, touches each MedStar Health GME resident, fellow, program director, support staff, and others. A nurse might even interact with the software when verifying someone’s qualifications to place a central line, for example.

Behind the scenes, Gordon thinks about how each group interacts with New Innovations and how MedStar Health GME can better leverage the software to give residents and fellows an improved educational experience.

Given his own educational background, Gordon couldn’t have predicted that he would end up in his current career. After graduating from American University as a government major, Gordon had his sights set on working on Capitol Hill. However, Gordon ultimately found a job as a program coordinator for Internal Medicine at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

Nearly 20 years later, Gordon recalls really loving his new, unexpected career path at the time. “What I enjoyed was helping residents and fellows through this very high-pressure period of time in their life…being able to advocate for resources for them. I also really enjoyed being in an academic environment. There’s learning going on all the time.”

Now, as part of the MedStar Health GME team, Gordon enjoys being able to advocate for residents and fellows on a system-level and being part of a team that is always looking to further innovate and improve.

“We have a sincere desire to provide the best clinical learning environment possible for our residents and fellows,” Gordon said. “Whether it’s a technology piece or a well-being piece, there’s constant assessment of what we offer and how we can be the best at it. We always want to be better, and we want to improve the experience for everybody.”

If you find yourself in the MedStar Health GME office, Gordon says he’ll be the one sporting a tie with the University of Michigan colors of blue and maize (not yellow as he’s quick to point out) – to celebrate their recent national championship title in football. Or you might even receive an email from “Go Blue,” which he says he’s currently considering as his new signature.

Staff Profile: Shari Goldston, MBA

Shari Goldston, MBA

Shari Goldston, MBA, says the best part of her job is getting to see the growth in GME learners – from the time they arrive until they move on or even become attendings at MedStar Health.

“Watching them come in as interns and they’re nervous. Everybody’s had that experience, right? When you start your first new job, and you want to do such a good job that you make yourself nervous. Then, to see them six months later, and they’re confident and they know what they have to do…Watching them go through that process is amazing.”

Shari has been in healthcare administration for 24 years and, except for a brief stint at another local hospital, has worked for MedStar Health in various roles since 2006.

The fact that Shari left MedStar Health only to come back a few years later, she says, is a testament to just how much she loves it here. “I love everything about MedStar. I left and came back, so that definitely tells you something.”

In her current role as Associate Director for MedStar Health GME, Shari manages the Finance Hub for the MedStar Health GME Consortium, which means she’s responsible for all things related to the consortium’s finances – for instance, billing, legal documentation and affiliation agreements, management of Medicare dollars, and the scheduling of rotators to work at each facility.

Integral to her success at MedStar Health has been her ability to network with different teams and other departments and realizing that people are there to help one another. “You don’t have to know it all. Asking for help from someone else helps you build relationships, and it helps you to connect and navigate the system better,” she explained.

Shari is excited to see how MedStar Health innovates and changes medicine for the better in the coming years. “I predict that we will continue to be innovative in research. I think technology is going to help us in more ways than we know. To work with the physicians that are learning those new innovative things right now, it’s exciting, and I can’t wait to see where we go.”

Shari’s enthusiasm for the unknown might explain her love of Halloween and mystery and thriller novels, too. Shari is such a fan of her favorite author, Stephen King, in fact, that some of her collection is even autographed and displayed in special cases. “It’s so much fun. Sitting on the edge of the couch…I’m like, oh my God, what’s going to happen next?”

Leader Profile: Dr. Carrie Chen

H. Carrie Chen, MD, PhD

H. Carrie Chen, MD, PhD

Carrie Chen, MD, PhD, chose to pursue pediatrics because it allowed her to think about health in a very broad way. The role you assume as a pediatrician, she explains, is so much more than curing or preventing disease. She says it’s about setting a foundation for a child to be healthy and successful over the course of their lifetime.

Although Dr. Chen is no longer practicing clinically, her background in helping others thrive has been a strength in her role as the Senior Associate Dean of Assessment and Educational Scholarship at Georgetown University School of Medicine. Dr. Chen oversees the development of curricula and assessment programs and provides leadership for medical student, resident, and fellow education. Dr. Chen is also a Professor of Pediatrics at Georgetown University School of Medicine and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

“When you think about children, there’s joy when they learn. People come to medicine because they have a passion for medicine. And in training, we sometimes suck the joy out of it, and it doesn’t have to be that way,” she said.

As an educator, Dr. Chen is always looking for better ways to do things and bring the joy back to learning medicine, asking questions like: Are there better ways to educate someone to help them reach their full potential? How can we make the educational experience a joyful one?

While much of Dr. Chen’s work directly impacts Georgetown University School of Medicine students, Dr. Chen notes that the close partnership with MedStar Health – where so many students go on to become residents – means that, “whatever we’re doing to make things better for our students will also make things better for all of our residents.” To further that work, Dr. Chen serves on the MedStar Health GME Consortium Graduate Medical Education Committee (GMEC).

Dr. Chen and others from Georgetown University also recently partnered with the Working Group for Racial Justice on a series of virtual workshops to educate faculty, fellows, residents, and staff on the basics and core values around creating equitable and inclusive learning environments. These workshops are meant to bring about systematic changes to address potential grading inequities based on student gender, race, or other demographics and combat deeply ingrained perceptions.

Dr. Chen says her talents for helping her students thrive, unfortunately, do not extend to caring for plants.

“I love plants. But I can’t keep any of my plants alive. I’m going to eventually kill off any plant that I bring home, and I keep trying,” she laughed. “Maybe if I actually studied and tried to understand the different plants and their individual needs, I’d have more success.”