Week 16: Hail to the Chiefs

This is a special time of year for us in the department of medicine (DoM). The current chief residents are winding down and preparing to hand over the reins to the new chief residents. Thus, for this week’s post, I want to highlight and thank our current chief residents and welcome those who will start in a little over 2-months from now.

On any given day, DoM Professional Group (DMPG) patients account for ~ 50% of inpatients at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center (RRUMC) and ~75% of inpatients at Santa Monica Hospital (SMH). That is a total of 370 patients! Our house staff (residents and interns) play essential roles in managing many of these patients. Moreover, at the Greater Los Angeles VA, the medicine service oversees ~ 80% of inpatients (including acute medicine, ICU, cardiology and a pre-op team), nearly 120 patients in total. Our residents also rotate at Olive View Hospital and manage many patients in outpatient clinics at the VA, RRUMC, SMH and Olive View . I am also particularly proud of their role in providing care to the unhoused such as through the VA. Our residents kept the hospitals afloat during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our chief residents oversaw these activities, while organizing complex scheduling, promoting wellness, and ensuring that our residents met the strict and specific training expectations to be eligible for board certification. This is where our chief residents provide essential leadership that ensures that our residency program remains one of the most sought-after programs in the USA. Although our chiefs are well-known to our trainees and some of our faculty, they are unsung heroes that many of you in our broader community might not know very well.

Learn more about these 9 amazing leaders who also shared with us reflections about their experience as chief residents in the department of medicine. I encourage you to thank them for their service when you have a chance.


Marielle Bolano, MD
Primary Care Chief Resident

"I’ve had so much fun working with the primary care residents as they explore what it means to provide high quality and equitable care to their patients across health systems. It’s inspiring to see how dedicated they are to their continuity patients at WLA VA’s Homeless PACT clinic, Olive View, and UCLA Santa Clarita and Santa Monica. I’m also grateful that I got to spend another year learning from our generous clinical and HSR faculty—we are so lucky to have their mentorship in advocacy and research. I love watching our residents work with them in spaces like PC Journal Club, PC Retreat, and their Primary Care Medicine blocks. I think those moments get everyone excited about what primary care can be. The biggest thank you to this family!"

Adam Braun, MD
Ronald Reagan Medical Center &Santa Monica Hospital Chief Resident

"Serving as a chief resident is humbling. The training prior to this year and the duties I attend to now are not so directly related, as everyone who knows a current or former chief is well aware. The residents taught us so much about how the lived experience as a trainee differs by circumstance. The journey between rotations, hospitals, clinics, and through surges of COVID were felt differently by so many, and navigating this helped grow us into the chief class we became. Seeing how senior leaders in our department advocated for residents, and empowered us to make changes, though sometimes subtle and incremental, has changed the way I see my path in the next stages of my career."

Karissa Britten, MD
Greater Los Angeles VA Chief Resident

"This was an incredibly special year to serve as the chief of equity, diversity & inclusion for our residency program: there was unique momentum surrounding the promotion of health equity and a genuine commitment to building a culture of inclusivity in both our residency and greater UCLA community. It was a true joy to work with and learn from many of our residents and colleagues in the department (especially the DOM Associate Vice Chair for EDI Dr. Christina Harris) who are so dedicated to making our institution a place where individuals from all backgrounds belong and are empowered to succeed. Some of our proudest achievements for the year include integrating EDI topics into all corners of our curriculum and successfully Matching one of the most diverse intern classes our program has ever seen."

Adam Custer, MD
Ronald Reagan Medical Center & Santa Monica Hospital Chief Resident

"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as a chief resident at UCLA. This year has been an incredible opportunity working alongside the most supportive and invested group of faculty that truly care about improving the lives and training of the residents. My passion projects this year have involved designing a longitudinal POCUS curriculum for residents as well as constructing a fellowship guide and research tool kit for residents. This experience will forever shape my future career in academic medicine."

Sarah Jensen, MD
Ronald Reagan Medical Center & Santa Monica Hospital Chief Resident

"I came into this position with a strong love for the UCLA internal medicine residency family, and so it is no surprise that forming relationships with individual family members shaped my time as a chief resident. My work with faculty and peer mentorship as well as inpatient mortality review and debrief allowed for multiple avenues to cultivate professional, emotional, and personal connections with residents. I am most grateful and honored for this opportunity to have supported our incredible physicians in a variety of spaces."

Jiwen Li, MD
Chief Resident in Quality & Safety

"Our program uniquely incorporates trainees across 6 specialties and has a more profound impact on trainees in this health system than arguably any other residency. I can give personal testament as a graduate of the med-peds program who had the pleasure of serving as an internal medicine chief resident this year. I am happy to have contributed to our scholarly innovations by co-developing a hybrid LEAN quality training module with asynchronous, online modules interspersed with in person seminars to increase the robustness of our quality training. We hope to make this available to trainees across all specialties in upcoming years."

Danny O'Brien, MD
Greater Los Angeles VA Chief Resident

"As a chief resident primarily located at our West LA VA site, it has been particularly rewarding to connect our residents with many of our amazing VA faculty through both formal lectures and mentorship opportunities. Morning report at the VA has been a personal favorite this year, giving our chief resident group the freedom to guide resident education on topics such as clinical reasoning, ultrasound, and critical appraisal of literature."

Jack Sharp, MD
Greater Los Angeles VA Chief Resident

"It has truly been an honor to serve as a VA-based chief resident this year. As a resident, I loved the robust academic culture and supportive learning environment at UCLA. I applied for the chief resident position hoping for an opportunity to make a positive impact on resident education and to enhance the curriculum, specifically with regards to critical appraisal of clinical trials. My passion project this year has been the development of a morning report series entitled “AM Annals” which aims to teach residents to be more discerning readers of the medical literature through both didactic lectures and interactive journal club sessions. I could not have accomplished any of this without the help of my incredible co-chief residents or the immensely collaborative faculty with whom I have the privilege to work and learn from every day. The chief resident year has been an invaluable experience that I will take with me wherever I go in my career."

Megan Trieu, MD
Ronald Reagan Medical Center & Santa Monica Hospital Chief Resident

"I have enjoyed strengthening our residency community through curricular innovation. Developing a longitudinal POCUS curriculum has brought our residents back together (away from Zoom) to learn ultrasound with one another. Not only has it given residents the confidence and skills to incorporate ultrasound into their practice but it has brought back the joy of shared learning."


You will have to wait until next week to read the details of the next class of chief residents. But here are their names and a picture of most of them at the incoming chief’s retreat with Program Director Lisa Skinner at the Annenberg Beach House.

Pictured from left to right are Rachel Sarnoff, Brandon Smith, George Tran, Lisa Skinner, Cameron Henneberg, Roshni Bhatnagar, Rachel Ohman and Yuliya Zektser. Patrick Holman and Rebecca Tsevat (insets, joined by Zoom).


The second group of partners that I want to acknowledge are members of the senior administrative team within the DoM. A department of our size could simply not function, were it not for the tireless efforts of many working behind the scenes under the leadership and direction of our administrative directors. I use this post to acknowledge and thank you for the essential work that you do for the DoM and to introduce you to many in the department who benefit from your expertise.

Albert Haro
Chief Financial Officer

Albert has been with UCLA for 16 years (20 years if including undergrad). He has worked for the DoM for 15 years. Albert oversees the finance office for the department of medicine. The finance office is responsible for financial oversight of our annual budget totaling over ~1B dollars.  Albert and his team provide support, training and guidance to departmental research, education and clinical areas. 

Arlene Bieschke
Director of Academic Personnel 

Arlene has been with UCLA for 29 years, all with the DOM. Arlene oversees the academic personnel office. She manages 1600+ faculty and academic appointments at the UCLA campus and across seven affiliate institutions, in addition to 900+ volunteer clinical faculty.  In coordination with the division managers and academic personnel coordinators, she facilitates the review of academic personnel actions including appointments, merits, 4th year appraisals, promotion, 8-year limit reviews, temporary appointments, and recall appointments.  Arlene conducts bimonthly meetings of the department of dedicine Committee on Appointments and Promotions (CAP) and coordinates meetings of the Subcommittee on Appointments and Promotions for volunteer faculty personnel actions

Thuy An N. Lu
Director of Compensation

An has been with UCLA for 7 years, 6 with the DoM. And oversees the DOM compensation office. An and her team are responsible for academic and staff payroll for research, education and clinical employees. Her team provide support, training and guidance to research, education and clinical faculty and staff. 

Libby Shin
Director of Education

Libby has been with UCLA for 15 yrs., all with the DoM. Libby provides administrative oversight for department of medicine education programs and administrative leadership for the core internal medicine residency program.  Libby and her team directly support the internal medicine residency program and its residents, chief residents, and program faculty; the core internal medicine clerkship; and the CME-accredited Department of Medicine Grand Rounds.  In addition, Libby and her team offer guidance, expertise, and coordination to other accredited education programs in the department.

Catherine Rujanuruks
Director of Research Administration

Cathy has been with UCLA for 23.5 years, and with the DoM for 18.5 years. Cathy oversees DoM research administration by providing a wide range of Research Administration (RA) support to all 18 divisions/sections within the department of medicine.  Support includes assistance in hiring, fund management training, creating resource materials, being a source of knowledge and experience to answer RA questions, providing research administration staff coverage and overflow, reviewing and submitting proposals on behalf of the university, liaison between divisions and various university central offices, creating standard operating procedures, and performing audit and compliance reviews of sponsored projects.

Raellen Man
Departmental Research Associate

Raellen has been with UCLA for 29.5 years, all with the DoM. Rae provides guidance & training to the divisional fund managers and administrators. She plays a key role in creating new policies, procedures, and best practices for DoM research administration. Rae offers guidance and support to Divisional fund managers with policies & procedures. Serves as one of the three departmental DRA’s submitting federal proposals on behalf of the university.

Rosa Guerrero
Director of Communications

Rosa is the newest member of our team. Although with the DoM for 2 months, she previously spent 5 years as an undergraduate at UCLA. Rosa leads the integrated communications strategy for the department of medicine to inform key audiences about advances in all the missions of the DoM.  Rosa is charged with overseeing a creative team in the development and dissemination of this content. Roles include developing department messaging, creating promotional materials and conducting quality control to ensure a consistent message and tone across various department channels including the department website, social media channels, and email communications.

Nicole Conner
Sr. HR Business Partner, Department of Medicine, Ambulatory & Community Practices, Access Organization (PCC)

Nicole has been with UCLA for 34+ years, 27 of which have been with the DoM. Nicole oversees the human resource business unit for departmental research, education and clinical staff. Nicole and her team provide staff personnel support.

Yanina Venegas
Interim DoM Executive Director

Yanina has been with UCLA 25 years, all with DoM. During the last 3 1/2 years Yanina has served as the interim executive director. In this role she is responsible for overseeing the department’s academic, research, education, and administration for the central offices and 18 divisions/sections. While in this role, Yanina continues as the division manager for hematology-oncology.  This is no small feat IMO.

Cumulatively our administration team has more years of experience than the DoM has been in existence, by nearly 2.4-fold.

In closing, let me reiterate how privileged I feel to be working with such a talented team. As the department embarks on our strategic plan to chart our course for the next decade, I am confident that with your commitment and support we will not merely pull it off, but we will exceed expectations.



I was delighted to learn that Yanina has now joined the coveted grandparent’s club.She welcomed her first grandchild last week. A boy!  Yanina described being a Nana as an amazing feeling. She went on to say that she was, “so in love”. Nana Yanina, I get it. I have been living this dream now for 8 months and it is showing no signs of growing old. I mean the feelings. Me, that’s a different story!

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