Residency Program Celebrates Fourth Graduating Class

On Friday, June 11, the fourth class of the Augusta University/ University of Georgia Medical Partnership Internal Medicine Residency Program in partnership with St. Mary’s Health Care System celebrated their graduation at the Georgia Club outside of Athens.

The night began with a dinner buffet followed by opening remarks from Medical Partnership Campus Dean, Dr. Shelley Nuss.

Nuss spoke about how proud she was of the class for making it through the tough time of COVID-19.

“We are so proud of this class,” said Nuss. “We’ve had some dark days in the last year. The stories that I’ve heard, the stress, the sadness, the grief, the deaths that you’ve all delt with is something you will hopefully never have again in your life. But you’ve learned a lot. You’ve come through it, and you’re resilient, you’re stronger, and you will take these skills with you wherever you go. Congratulations to our 10 graduates. You are all amazing.”

Nuss was followed by Montez Carter, St. Mary’s President and CEO.

“Day in and day out, our entire team was impressed by the skill and dedication and determination you demonstrated this past year,” said Carter. “We are impressed by your compassion and your empathy and your attitudes you demonstrated to our patients. All this was more than we all bargained for, but in the heat of the pandemic, you made a difference. You saved lives. Decades from now when you look back over your career, I hope that you will be proud and humbled about what you were able to accomplish with us at St. Mary’s.”

Residents are graduates of medical school who are working toward full licensure as independent physicians. The Internal Medicine Residency Program is a three-year program with increasing levels of independence. It’s the final stage in their internal medicine education. At the end of the three-year program, they will sit for their Boards and then either go into practice or continue into training for a specialty.

The IMRP is accredited to host up to 34 residents. They provide supervised inpatient care at St. Mary’s Hospital on Baxter Street and outpatient care at Community Internal Medicine of Athens on Oglethorpe Avenue. In addition, third year residents spend two months in a rural healthcare setting, providing inpatient care at St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital and outpatient care at TenderCare Clinic, both in Greensboro.

Nine of the 10 residents from the Class of 2021 are staying in the southeast, and two will remain at St. Mary’s: Dr. Jamila Pham and Dr. Joshuam Ruiz Vega will be co-Chief Residents.

Pham praised the leadership from those at the Medical Partnership and St. Mary’s.

“Somehow, in three short years, you have taken scared, timid interns and turned them into competent physicians who are ready to take on the world. I hope we have made you guys proud,” she said.

“All I want to say is how proud I am of you all,” said Interim Program Director Dr. Andy Albritton. “I wish you all the best, and thank you for the last three years.”


The Class of 2021

Yvonne Akabogu – Floyd Medical Center – Rome, GA

Zachary Hart – North Alabama Medical Center – Florence, AL

Lara Khamo – Kaiser Permanente – California Bay Area

Shabtab Khan – Emory University, Nephrology Fellowship

Chau Nguyen – hospitalist

Somtochukwu Nwokoye – McLeod Medical Center – Florence, SC

Cari Padron – McLeod Health Seacoast – Little River, SC

Jamila Pham – Chief Resident

Joshuam Ruiz Vega – Chief Resident

Vandana Yanamadala – McLeod Medical Center – Florence, SC


Winners from the End of the Year Awards Ceremony

The following were awards were determined by voting by their colleagues and peers.


Subspecialty Attending of the Year: Alan Morgan, MD

Cardiology Attending of the Year: Hiren Patel, MD

Hospitalist of the Year: Amir Shirazi, MD

Intensivist of the Year: Nick Fox, MD

Faculty of the Year: Marla Tschepikow, MD

Rotation of the Year: ICU

Intern of the Year: Taylor Attar, DO

Resident of the Year: Kajal Joshi, MD

Senior Resident of the Year: Caridad Padron, MD

Outstanding Professionalism & Ethics: Maureen Onweni, MD

St. Mary’s Nursing Choice Award: Caridad Padron, MD

For more information about attending the Medical College of Georgia at the Medical Partnership campus

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