Letter from the Program Director
Terrie Mendelson, MD Welcome to the Internal Medicine Residency Program at St. Mary’s Medical Center. We are a small, highly collegial program that strives to combine the best educational aspects of both community hospital and major academic medical center settings. A Program Director has only one product: her residents. Regardless of your future career plans within Internal Medicine, my faculty and I will devote 100% of our energy and attention to assuring the best possible training experience for you over the next 1-3 years, customized to meet the educational needs of each individual resident in a way that is impossible to achieve in most large residency programs. Residency programs look remarkably similar on paper: what differentiates us is not our curricula or fellowship placement rates as much as our residents, faculty and –most important– our patients. My own background is entirely academic: I trained at UCSF and served as Program Director there for many years before making the 8-block move to this UCSF-affiliated academic community hospital.
Let me tell you what I find to be so special about St. Mary’s:
Located in the heart of beautiful San Francisco (literally across the street from Golden Gate Park), St. Mary’s Medical Center has a 160-year history of educating physicians and providing care for the incredibly diverse San Francisco population. As our hospital’s motto states, “We started health care in San Francisco” and we continue to lead the way in health reform today: we are the only training program whose residents and faculty all participate actively in Healthy San Francisco, SF’s universal healthcare program for the medically underserved. We’re also the official healthcare provider for the world champion SF Giants, and we’ve been recognized as a center of excellence in cardiac care, stroke, geriatrics, joint replacement, diabetes, and bariatric surgery. It is difficult to imagine a more diverse patient population: we care for patients across the entire socioeconomic spectrum and from around the world, and it is true that the more you see, the more you learn.
I describe our residency as an academic program in a community setting. Our residents are strongly encouraged -and mentored- to engage in scholarly activities including research, quality improvement projects, abstract and poster presentations and authorship of systematic reviews and primary research manuscripts. More than half of our residents present posters at the American College of Physicians meeting each year and senior residents can travel to the national Society for Hospitalist Medicine, SGIM or subspecialty society meetings to present their quality improvement or research work. Our residents’ group Quality Improvement initiative on Opioid Reduction recently received recognition at the National ACP “big meeting”.
St. Mary’s residents rotate to UCSF and SFGH (the City and County public hospital within the UCSF system) for Emergency Medicine, Neurology, Hematology/Oncology, and a variety of elective rotations, where they work alongside UCSF residents and fellows. California Northstate School of Medicine students rotate at St. Mary’s for inpatient and outpatient rotations, and several UCSF fellowships and residencies have core rotations at St. Mary’s. UCSF faculty run the St. Mary’s inpatient hospitalist teaching service and participate actively in noon conferences, core seminars, POCUS and procedures training, medical grand rounds and resident mentorship at St. Mary’s.
Through our academic associations with UCSF and other medical schools, our residents have the opportunity to teach and supervise third and fourth-year medical students doing medicine clerkships on the wards. Stanford, UCSF and CPMC residents and fellows train at St. Mary’s for dedicated rotations in neurology, physical rehabilitation medicine, radiation oncology, interventional vascular, ophthalmology, plastic, microvascular surgery, and cardiac electrophysiology.
At an academic community hospital, physicians join the residency faculty and teach because they want to, not because they have to. Our Faculty are highly enthusiastic clinician-educators whose top priority is your education. Residents at St. Mary’s enjoy an unusually close working relationship with both core and subspecialty faculty, working 1:1 with subspecialists on consultation services. Our subspecialist faculty, Chief of Medicine, and Chief of Staff know every one of our residents by name and play a very active role in mentoring residents for their future careers. Core St. Mary’s inpatient faculty are UCSF professors and several of our faculty also hold academic appointments at Stanford, Creighton or other regional medical schools.
Our Preliminary interns come from excellent medical schools and go on to top national programs in Radiology, Radiation Oncology, Anesthesia, Neurology, Dermatology, and Physical Medicine/Rehabilitation. A growing number of former “Prelims” are choosing to return to St. Mary’s for practice after completing their residencies. Our categorical residents are recruited from academically excellent medical schools throughout the world, although the majority are US medical graduates, we are strongly committed to training residents who represent the same cultural diversity that we value in our patients, so we also recruit bilingual/bicultural residents from the best international medical schools. The resultant diversity in background and professional interests fosters a stimulating, collaborative working environment that often results in life-long friendships. Our graduates consistently provide positive feedback about their training at St. Mary’s and do extremely well in fellowship and career placement, with 100% fellowship match rates and outstanding career placement in Hospital and primary care medicine. Most of our graduates stay in contact with us for many years, and many choose to establish their medical practices at St. Mary’s, either as UCSF Hospitalist faculty or by joining a primary care or subspecialty group affiliated with our institution. As a group, our residents are remarkably happy, engaged, intelligent and well-balanced people who love living and learning in San Francisco.
Our hospital leadership, program directors, and faculty are extremely supportive of our residency programs, enabling residents to have a great deal of “ownership” of their program and hospital through the Resident Advisory Council, GME Committee, and other major hospital committees on which all senior residents sit. Residents have a powerful voice in this hospital: our residents are the core of our mission to provide state-of-the-art, compassionate care for our diverse and underserved community.