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Letter from the Chief Residents

Chief Residents, Michael Crone, DO, and Joseph Assam, MD

Pooja Nair, MD and Alyssa Caplan, MD

Welcome to St Mary’s Medical Center, where research and medical training have been part of the hospital’s tradition since 1904. As you surf through our program’s website to find the answer to your question “Why should I want to do my Internal Medicine residency at SMMC?”  Let us help you find the answer!

What Makes Our Program Stand Out?

Education, Education, Education

Our program’s philosophy is “education above service”. Our faculty values and promotes education in every setting whether it’s practice-based learning, didactic sessions or scholarly work. St. Mary’s teaching program is affiliated with UCSF, and we maintain the high educational standards of the UC system. Many of our core faculty serve as teaching faculty at UCSF. In addition to faculty-led bed-side teaching rounds, we have daily noon conferences given by our best SMMC and UCSF faculty and weekly grand rounds with invited speakers from top bay area hospitals and institutions. The core and subspecialty faculty (i)ncluding many of our Division Chiefs conduct evening Board Review sessions weekly using both ACP course review modules and MKSAP to prepare us for the ABIM Board exam in the best way. Our program directors are very accessible and personally involved in our teaching every day.

Diverse Pathology

Our hospital is located in the heart of San Francisco, literally across the street from world-famous Golden Gate Park, so we care for patients from a wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and see amazing pathology. About half of our patients come from middle-class communities of the neighboring Richmond, Fillmore, Castro and Sunset districts, each with a distinctive population. Another half are poor and/or underserved people coming from Haight-Ashbury, Golden Gate Park, the Tenderloin and Chinatown, factor in tourists from all over the world who had the bad luck to get sick on vacation, and you will see we have a little bit of everything! We have a combined medical-surgical and cardiac ICU that provides us with the opportunity to learn medical management of post-operative spine, cardiac, orthopedic, bariatric and urologic surgery patients, as well as the more traditional multi-organ system failure and mechanical ventilation patients. Our board certified critical care faculty teaches state of the art POCUS bedside ultrasound so that by the end of internship we become  well skilled in all procedures needed to optimally manage our patients in the critical setting. Our residents rotate to the SF General Hospital and UCSF Parnassus, which allows us to work in high-level trauma centers and see even more diverse pathophysiology and patient populations in the County Hospital and University settings.

Humane Training Schedule

Our program is compliant with all current ACGME requirements regarding admission and census caps, duty hours monitoring and sleep deprivation teaching. We have a Night Float system and an Intern and Resident Day float. This serves primarily two purposes:

  1. Predictable days off for interns and residents so that you can plan ahead (i).e. your own doctors, dental appointments or fun activities.
  2. Our senior residents are actually acting as residents every day on wards, perfecting their teaching and leadership skills while managing their team. Many of our residents have families and children; some have children during residency. Many residents are active skiers, snowboarders, bicyclers and even mountain climbers. It is all doable!


According to our residents, this is the best part of the program! As you will see when you come to interview, camaraderie is really great among our residents and interns. We are very supportive of one another, and there’s a great spirit of teamwork. We often get together for social activities - much of it sponsored by the program - such as wine-tasting, October-Fest, barbeques in the park, pool parties, sports events, informal meetings with the faculty, and our annual residents’ retreat in the Marin Headlands. Last year our residents together with our faculty initiated a volunteer community service initiative, serving meals to the homeless and poor in the Tenderloin. 

Fellowships And Research

St. Mary’s residents may complete program director approved research projects at UCSF, San Francisco VA Hospital, and Stanford. Our program has a strong record of matching residents to highly competitive fellowships at top institutions, including UCSF (G)I), Hem-Onc, Geriatrics, Endocrine; Stanford (G)eriatrics, Palliative Care; Columbia (G)I); UCLA (ID, Geriatrics); UC Davis (Oncology); University of Texas Southwestern/Dallas (Nephrology); Oregon Health Science University (Nephrology), Fox Chase Cancer Center (HemOnc), Loma Linda University (Hem-Onc), UCI (Hem-Onc), UCSF Fresno (Cardiology, Pulm –Critical Care), Harvard, UCSF (Health Informatics), Tulane University (Cardiology and Pulm/Critical Care), USC (Pulm Critical Care), and University of Pittsburg (Cardiac Transplant Fellowship). Dedicated one-on-one mentorship helps our residents to develop strategic plans for fellowship application and career development. Our Program Directors and sub-specialty faculty support and encourage fellowships and provide personal mentorship to every resident who should choose that path. Our faculty will help strengthen and promote your fellowship application by providing strong letters of support, place phone calls on your behalf, assist in organizing outside rotations/research projects, and even conduct fellowship mock interviews to build confidence and prepare you for the real thing!

Location, Location, Location

Living in San Francisco is amazing! You will find an overload of cultural activity (museums, opera, ballet, theater and concerts, (many of which are free such as the fantastic annual Hardly, Strictly Blue Grass Festival and the Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park, amazing restaurants and bars, and plenty of outdoor activities year-round. St Mary’s Medical Center borders Golden Gate Park, which makes it tempting to get in an early morning run before you start your day or after a long day. We are only minutes from the Pacific Ocean (c)heck out the view of the Golden Gate Bridge from our eighth floor!, a short drive from downtown San Francisco, an hour’s drive from the wine country, and 3 hours from Lake Tahoe’s ski slopes.

Bottom Line

Our residency program will train you with academic rigor in a supportive environment, and will prepare you well for your career, whether you choose primary care, Hospitalist practice, or subspecialty fellowship training. Come visit us and check it out for yourself, we’re happy we did!!