JOSH BACK, MD - DFM
UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER
I grew up in Albany, NY and went to undergrad at Colgate University, where majoring in Peace and Conflict Studies sparked my passion for social justice. WWOOF’ing around Kenya and looking for direction after graduating, I found my way to a small fishing island in Lake Victoria, where a grassroots effort was taking a more holistic and participatory approach to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Seeing the power in blending clinical care, public health and community development, and wanting the tangible skills that would allow me to better serve such efforts led me to brush off my neglected pre-med reqs and attend medical school at the University of Rochester.
There, my involvement with homeless outreach and “Hotspotting” among high-utilizers of care further convinced me of the central importance of education and patient empowerment in health and well-being. I was also lucky to have had the opportunity to take a year-out in rural Honduras where I overcame my ineptitude for foreign languages, learned to wield a machete and organized projects in water and sanitation. I came to family medicine because it best blends my interests in working on both individual patient and population health levels.
I was immediately drawn to Swedish First Hill for its commitment to truly full-spectrum family medicine, its track record of producing graduates who walk-the-walk in service and innovation and its passionate faculty and residents. I cannot wait to move to Seattle and am most looking forward to endless Bahn Mi and Bubble Tea options, finally living in a bike-friendly city, and the opportunity to adventure all over the Pacific Northwest.
ALEX BERNADETT, MD - FIRST HILL
Born in Newton, Massachusetts to a dental student and a brew master, I moved to my parents’ hometown of Grass Valley, California after 16 months of Red Sox onesies and Boston Lager-laced binkies. The next 16 years in “The Dirty 5-30” were full of sporting events, mountain bike rides through the woods, a propensity for sprained ankles, and a realization that I wanted to pursue education and life experiences in a different part of the country. I left Grass Valley after high school to attend Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tulane satisfied my desire to engage in an incredibly broad education with amazing people while New Orleans satisfied my desire to experience a foreign land without the inconvenience of having to own a passport.
Upon graduating from Tulane, and after a two month stint working in a hot dog restaurant, I stayed in New Orleans to attend the Tulane University School of Medicine. I entered medical school with a desire to help a diverse group of people with a diverse range of needs, develop meaningful relationship with my future patients, and approach healthcare in a humanistic, personal manner. After spending a month working with a family physician in rural Louisiana after the first year of medical school, I had a feeling that family medicine was meant for me. Fortunately, my third and fourth years of medical school confirmed that notion. I was drawn to the multitude of avenues that family medicine offers to make a significant impact in the lives of our patients, families, and the community. My interview at Swedish-First Hill convinced me that this program was full of passionate people with incredibly diverse backgrounds, but a common goal of becoming leaders in healthcare. I am beyond excited to spend the next three years working and learning among such dedicated, kind, and genuine residents, staff members, and faculty.
Spending my childhood in a small town and eight years of early adulthood in New Orleans proved to be excellent training for having fun outside of work, school, and medicine. Given some free time, I’ll jump at an opportunity to participate in an outdoor activity (biking, running, skiing, snowboarding, etc.), play or watch any sport, go on a road trip, explore a new restaurant/bar/brewery, discuss 19th century United States history, attend live music shows, or anything else that involves the words “adventure” or “boondoggle”. I’m ecstatic to explore all that Seattle has to offer, including the chance to try foods and beverages I can’t pronounce, rediscover the words “hill” and “elevation”, listen to radio stations that still play Nirvana, and drive around my 2002 Prius without looking out of place.
LAURA COLMAN, MD - FIRST HILL
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
I'm originally British-Canadian, but grew up mostly in Cincinnati, OH before moving east to study biology at Yale. I returned to my Midwestern roots for medical school at the University of Michigan. There I was involved with the student-run free clinic, spent time abroad in Uganda and Ethiopia, and discovered family medicine was the perfect platform to find continuity and address growing health care needs. It helps that I have a few relatives (sister-in-law, mother, grandfather) to inspire me in the specialty as well! I'm interested in education, prevention, access to healthcare, addiction, women's health, and obstetrics, and am thankful for the opportunity to pursue this field at Swedish First Hill.
Despite leaving behind the world's best ice cream (Graeter's) in Cincinnati, I'm excited for my first adventure to the Pacific Northwest. Outside of residency, I look forward to being near the ocean and mountains, exploring Seattle and its delicious food, continuing to play soccer, and picking up a few new teams to support!
ERICA FOSTER, MD - FIRST HILL
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
After growing up in a fly-in only fishing village in southwest Alaska, I attended Northern Michigan University to study biology and chemistry. Upon graduating from college, I took a year off to spend one final summer commercial fishing in Alaska and enjoyed the winter by skiing the Wasatch Mountains in Utah and traveling before applying to medical school.
I have spent the past four years studying at the University of Washington School of Medicine. During my clinical years, I had the unique opportunity through the WWAMI program to do various rural rotations in a few communities across the region. Family medicine has always been an interest of mine, but these clinical experiences solidified my goals to pursue training in full spectrum primary care. I greatly value the relationships that are built and maintained with patients and their families over time. During my years at UW, I discovered the residency program at Swedish First Hill. I rotated with the program as a Sub-I during my fourth year, and knew it was the place for me.
My husband and I are thrilled to be staying in Seattle for the next few years! We enjoy all of the outdoor adventure that the Pacific Northwest has to offer, including sea kayaking, hiking, skiing, and sailing. We also enjoy a good coffee shop and long urban walks with our labradoodle, Maddie.
SUZANNE GIUNTA, MD - DFM
VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY
Cows, corn, bon fires, and stomping around in the woods with my two siblings were all parts of my childhood in rural Fauquier County, Virginia. Upon graduation from Liberty High School (go Eagles!), I journeyed north to Rochester, NY for a degree in Biomedical Engineering and American Sign Language. Here, I discovered the wonders of fresh snowfall (albeit, a lot of snowfall!) and Wegmans grocery store (yes, a grocery run can also be a social event!). Wanting to thaw out a bit, after graduation I moved to rural Guyana, a small country in South America, encompassing the far reaches of the Amazon River basin. There, I lived for two years and solidified my desire to become a physician. I arrived as a math and science teacher, fresh out of undergrad and ready to change the world. Instead, I was the one who was changed, as I traded amenities like indoor plumbing and electricity to live like billions of others around the world. As a student/teacher in this economically poor, yet culturally rich society, I found myself naturally drawn to the local health hut, where I learned that there is no substitute for a well-trained family physician in a community.
Determined to combine the problem-solving aspects of engineering with the relationships formed in the classroom, I returned back to VA for medical school, where I attended Virginia Commonwealth University. Here, I immersed myself in the wonderful family medicine community of VCU, became involved with the national HotSpotting initiative, and ultimately cemented my desire to pursue family medicine as a specialty. Prior to the interview season, I had never been to Seattle, but was so impressed by Swedish First Hill’s interview day that I knew this program was for me. I am honored and excited to begin my three year journey in such a supportive, positive environment – where I am constantly impressed by the people I’m surrounded by and know that both my professional and personal development are in for quite a ride! In the future, I hope to provide quality, full-spectrum medical care for underserved patients, either in a rural or urban setting, with an emphasis on OB and/or palliative care.
Outside of the hospital, you can probably find me running on one of Seattle’s many trails (always looking for more recommendations!), perusing through a farmer’s market, basking in the sun (when it’s out!), or taking my Subaru out for a local camping trip.
NATHANIEL GUIMONT, MD - DFM
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
In the battle for small-town glory, my hometown of Nowthen, MN has strategically used its army of tractors to swell from a population of 68 to 4,000 in my lifetime. We still, unfortunately, cannot afford a local police force, much to my car window’s demise. From these humble roots, I went to and graduated from the U of MN – Duluth with a degree in biology and a passion for the local music scene. I did not know if I wanted to teach, pursue psychology, or go into medicine, so I signed up for a couple years of teaching high school life science, math and life skills in Namibia. Mad Max – Fury Road holds a lot of nostalgia for me. While there, I discovered a whole new level of respect for my previous teachers, and decided to take the easy road and go into medicine, taking the MCAT in Cape Town. My perspective on community development, passion for social justice, and mission to mitigate the collateral damage associated with poverty, stems from my experience working with my awesome kids who taught me so much. To pay the bills after returning to the US, I worked a brief year in research and development for a start-up that developed “sticky water,” which we tested by setting houses on fire (in a scientific and legal manner).
Since being accepted into medical school, I have had the honor of participating in programs that have allowed me to continue to work on issues related to underserved, diverse patient populations. I was the director of a free clinic based in a homeless shelter and served on my state’s medical cross-cultural affairs committee. I continue to travel extensively to learn from those that have been gracious to teach me through their stories and experiences. When I have free time I’m running, hiking, or biking--perhaps to explore a new microbrewery. My artistically-inclined wife is also great at balancing my type A tendencies and takes me out to hang with her friends in the theatre world. I can’t wait to work with all the amazing people I met at First Hill, and instantly felt at home when I noticed some of my future co-residents wearing colorful socks.
ANJA JOKELA, MD - FIRST HILL
UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
Before colliding with a car while solo bicycle touring in Europe, I was making a living as a violinist and music teacher in Vermont, with the hope of eventually becoming an organic farmer. After the accident, I continued to make music and dream of farming, but something was different: the saga of hospitalization and rehabilitation had planted a curiosity for a career in medicine. I followed this fascination through a post-bac pre-med program, jobs as a nursing aid and hospital registrar, and an 8-month trip to Peru for medical volunteer work. I eventually applied to medical school at the University of Vermont. While in medical school, I led the family medicine, integrative medicine, and gender and sexuality student interest groups, and traveled to Cuba for a rotation in primary care and obstetrics. During this time, I also achieved my marathon running time goal, and (best of all) met my partner, Ali.
I am thrilled to be working at Swedish First Hill for its respected full-spectrum training and contagious positive spirit. (Can I mention playing fiddle in the residency band?!) My specific interests include women’s health and obstetrics, integrative medicine (with long-standing interests in acupuncture, nutrition, herbal medicine, and mind-body medicine), and culturally-sensitive care. While Vermont is my heartland, I am looking forward to pedaling alongside Seattle’s bike commuters and relishing local eateries and breweries. After backpacking the Vermont Long Trail with Ali, I am inspired to explore Washington’s mountains. I am also eager for our next crop of seedlings (and chickens?!) to thrive in Seattle’s temperate climate.
HARRISON KALODIMOS, MD - BALLARD
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
I was born and raised amongst the corn fields and good manners of the Midwest and studied biomedical engineering at Texas A & M – home of the Original 12th Man. Four sweltering and sun-burnt summers were about all I could handle of the South, so after I graduated I retreated to the more temperate climes of Cleveland, Ohio – a city that, believe it or not, boasts fewer sunny days per year than Seattle—to get my PhD in biomedical engineering at Case Western.
While in grad school, I realized that I was much more passionate about issues of health equity than technological innovation. Paul Farmer’s writing convinced me that physicians can be powerful agents of change toward social justice, so I left Case Western to pursue my MD at the University of Pennsylvania. During med school I worked at United Community Clinic, a free clinic in West Philadelphia. This experience helped me understand that a person’s health is not just the outcome of their medical care, but a state of being that lies at the intersection of economic opportunity, social status, housing, nutrition, and myriad other factors. Here I saw how a primary care practice that understands these factors can be a powerful resource for a community. I chose to specialize in family medicine because I wanted the flexibility to adapt my practice to the particular needs of the communities I serve, and I love the strong physician-advocate identity of this politically active discipline.
In my spare time, I love running, biking, hiking, backpacking, and otherwise conforming to Pacific Northwest clichés. I’ll probably get into rock climbing while I’m in Seattle because, hey, why not. I’m on Twitter way more than is healthy and if I’m wearing headphones, I’m probably listening to a podcast (current faves: The Weeds, 99% Invisible, and Another Round). I’m looking forward to training with the awesome folks at Swedish and taking advantage of everything awesome Seattle has to offer!
PETER KUHN, MD - FIRST HILL
MEDICAL COLLEGE OF WISCONSIN
Coming from the Midwest, I am thrilled to journey to the not-so-flat Pacific Northwest to train at Swedish. I grew up about 40 miles west of Chicago in Batavia, the “City of Energy” known for its windmills and high energy particle physics. As the grandson of a Swiss cheesemaker, I gravitated north to the cheese state for eight years of education in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While earning my degree in Biomedical Sciences at Marquette University, I worked as a teaching assistant in the gross anatomy lab and spent my evenings directing a co-ed a cappella choir. During my time at the Medical College of Wisconsin, I helped establish LGBTQ curriculum for pre-clinical medical students. I also enjoyed the challenge of developing programming for LGBTQ youth of Milwaukee to address concerns and attitudes surrounding health disparities faced by their community. Through my experiences, I have found a passion for community-focused healthcare that is an essential component of family medicine.
I am grateful for the opportunity to train at Swedish First Hill where community is the center of patient care. My special interests include LGBTQ care, women’s health, and community education. Outside of medicine, I like to spend my time tapping into the local music scene, attending Broadway shows in town, discovering a new brew (coffee and beer), and enjoying an occasional night of karaoke with good friends. I am also looking forward to exploring Seattle and the beautiful PNW through many outdoor adventures!
KATE PEREZ, MD - FIRST HILL
Growing up in a sleepy suburb of Boston, I developed a fondness for escaping to the mountains of New England at a young age. Eventually, I secured unlimited access to mountain adventures by attending Williams College, where I studied Biology, spent a semester in India, and hung out with people commonly referred to as “crunchy.” After graduation I traveled for a year through Tibet, Bhutan, Japan, and Peru, learning about development strategies in remote mountain communities. That first year rolled into a second as I collaborated with a filmmaker to put the theory of participatory development into action and started an elementary school in the high Andes. Eventually I returned to Boston to gather more skills at Harvard Kennedy School, where I fell in love with community organizing and realized the irony of practicing community-led development in a place far from home. When I evaluated my desire to invest in my community, advocate for social justice, and serve others, medicine became the clear path forward. I spent a year helping to create the Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter and then started at Harvard Medical School. My four years there revolved around the Harvard Primary Care Student Leadership Committee and activities such as researching behavioral health integration and non-pharmacologic approaches to chronic pain, advocating for the creation of a department of family medicine, and coaching peers in leadership skills. When I learned about family medicine’s appreciation for the whole person, focus on prevention, and commitment to social justice, I knew I had found my home within medicine. I am thrilled to now be joining Swedish First Hill and its wonderful community. Beyond the hospital and clinic, I look forward to exploring Seattle’s coffee shops, yoga, salsa, and of course, its mountains, with my husband, Lio, and my co-residents.
ANDREW WEI, MD - BALLARD
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO
Following the Northridge, CA earthquake in ’94, my family relocated to Gilbert, a quiet suburb of Phoenix, where I went to high school and still call home. I studied math and biology at Haverford College and pole vaulted for the track and field team—let’s go Goats! After college, I moved to NYC to work at HEALTHQUAL, an international non-profit with the aim of improving the quality of HIV care through strengthening health systems and quality management programs abroad. During my time in New York, I also volunteered for a local EMS corporation and mentored at-risk youth in Brooklyn. Coming from a privileged background, these were my first real experiences with poverty and the striking difference in opportunity to succeed for people who lived in these communities.
Interested in primary care and public health, I moved west to attend UC San Diego for medical school where I fell in love with the student-run free clinic. Through several experiences in medical school, I realized that so much of illness and chronic disease is a manifestation of social inequity, and that our current health system is too fragmented and isolated from social and community services to effectively make a difference for many people. I became interested in innovative care delivery models and had the opportunity to learn more about the concept of hotspotting—providing better care to patients who are super utilizers of public services. Caring for these medically and socially complex patients not only served as a window into our health system, but also reminded me how important it is to truly understand a patient’s story. Given a common appreciation for whole person care and passion for social justice and community, family medicine as a specialty was the obvious choice.
I am thrilled to join the Swedish First Hill / Ballard family and look forward to learning from all of the amazing residents and faculty. Clinically, I am interested in healthcare for the homeless, palliative medicine, systems innovation, quality improvement and incorporating medicine into a broader goal of health, community, and wellness. Outside of medicine, I enjoy hiking, traveling, cooking, playing/watching basketball, board games and spending time with my partner, Denise, who’s also a family medicine intern in Seattle, and our dog, Pig. We cannot wait to explore Seattle and the Pacific Northwest!