Week 22: The Graduates

In the life cycle of our education enterprise, June is a month of transitions highlighted by graduations. Last week, my younger brother reminded me that his daughter, my niece just graduated from elementary school. He then sent me a picture of when she graduated from kindergarten which seemed as if it had just happened yesterday! But time does not stand still in the department of medicine (DoM). This weekend we celebrated an important milestone as our senior resident class graduated from their residency training. This class of residents started at UCLA in 2019, a mere 6-months before the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Wuhan, transforming the global health care landscape in ways that were difficult to imagine at the time. For the past 2 ½ years these residents’ training experience was defined by the pandemic. What would have been a rigorous and intense three years of internal medicine training under normal circumstances, transformed into a pitch battle to save lives from a disease that could take their own. Memories can be short but recall the days when we struggled to find PPE, and the only treatments available for COVID-19 patients was dexamethasone, remdesivir and, for the most severely ill, mechanical ventilation, ECMO and even lung transplantation.

The vaccine gave us hope for a respite. However, then came the Omicron surge which meant that at any point in time during the last winter, significant numbers of our house staff could have been out on quarantine or isolation resulting in the need for many of our residents to provide backup above and beyond their regular assignments. Through this time our residents and their leaders demonstrated amazing resilience and exemplified the strength of their commitment to each other’s well-being, and of course their ongoing commitment to providing the highest quality care to all our patients across multiple hospitals and clinics. Therefore, it was a special evening on Saturday when the senior residents were honored, initially during an online event that was attended by more than 200 friends, families and well-wishers. View the pictures from the virtual celebration HERE. The event was followed by a small outdoor dinner for the graduating residents and their guests on the Luskin terrace. View the pictures from the event at the Luskin HERE.

By any measure, the residency class of 2022 is a remarkable cohort and I invite you to learn more about where they will be going next by visiting HERE. We wish them every success in their future endeavors, and we are confident that whether you are going into practice in primary care or hospital medicine or moving into subspecialty fellowships, everyone will see how well prepared you are for a successful career in your chosen fields. Keep the Bruin flag flying high. You are tomorrow’s leaders in medicine! I want to highlight awards that were received by house staff and faculty last night.


Intern Humanism Award:
Camille Ashbaugh, MD

Junior Resident Bruin Award:
Punya Chittajallu, MD

Graduating Resident Teaching Award:
Philip Kozan, MD, MS

Olga Levin Inspiration Award: 
Jennifer Plotkin, MD


Outstanding Teaching by a Fellow Award:
Srikanth Krishnan, MD
(UCLA Cardiology Fellow)


Outstanding Inpatient Teaching Award:
Satya Patel, MD

Outstanding Outpatient Primary Care Teaching Awards:
Olivia Arreola-Owen, MD and Faizan Malik, MD

Outstanding Outpatient Subspecialty Teaching Award:
Jane Weinreb, MD

Faculty Mentors of the Year:
Rachel Brook, MD and Eric Yang, MD

Staff Appreciation Award:
Armando “Mondo” Medina

Join me in congratulating our colleagues for their achievements and contributions to the high quality of our training program.

The other big graduation event on campus was the DGSOM commencement on Friday. DoM faculty were well-represented amongst the honorees which are selected by our medical students and faculty.

 Let me start with Dr. Arlene Brown MD, PhD, division of general internal medicine, who received the Wilbur S. Schwartz M.D. Prize for Kindness, Compassion, and Humanity:

"Awarded to a physician who has demonstrated to their patients and to fellow physicians the qualities of extraordinary kindness, compassion and humanity to patients in their delivery of medical service and treatment for which Dr. Wilbur Schwartz was known."

Pictured left to right: Olujimi Ajijola, MD, PhD, Arleen Brown, MD, PhD, Daniel Kozman, MD, Carol Mangione, MD, Russell Glen Buhr, MD, PhD, Jason Napolitano, MD, Jodi Friedman, MD, Fola May, MD, PhD, Rachel Brooks, MD

Congratulations Arlene!!

Kaiser Permanente and Lucien B. Guze Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching:

Holly Middlekauff, MD (Cardiology)
Tara Vijayan, MD, MPh (Travel Medicine/Infectious Diseases)

William N. Valentine Award for Excellence in Internal Medicine

Presented annually to the graduating student who has achieved the highest distinction as a scholar in internal medicine. The award is named after Dr. William N. Valentine, who served as the second chairman of the Department of Medicine from 1963–1971, who received international acclaim as an investigator of red cell physiology and enzymology.

Awarded to:

David Simon Shabsovich

Please join me in congratulating our esteemed colleagues.

Many of you have told me how much you enjoyed reading these emails. I am pleased to let you know that these are now archived on my blog on the DoM website at domconnect.uclahealth.org. Our overall web presence is a work in progress but will be improving over time.



I got a gift from the chief residents on Saturday. Thanks for the card and the gift.

As you can see, the gift is a potted plant…

 But not just any potted plant. It is SenecioVitalis aka Narrow Leaf Chalk Sticks.

The gift reflects not only the thoughtfulness of the Come Back Chiefs, but also their brilliance. First of all, it does not need much water, meaning that it is relatively unlikely that I will kill it.Second of all, it does not need much water, which is very responsible of them seeing that watering restrictions are now in place in LA County.

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