Letter from the Program Director

Terrie Mendelson, MD, FACP

Welcome to the Internal Medicine Residency Program at St. Mary’s Medical Center. We are a small, vibrant, and highly collegial program that combines the best educational aspects of a community safety net hospital and a major academic medical center. 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, Board pass rates, or fellowship placement as much as our residents, faculty and –most importantly– 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 community hospital.  Let me tell you what I find to be so special about St. Mary’s:

Our Hospital
Located in the heart of beautiful San Francisco (literally across the street from Golden Gate Park), St. Mary’s Medical Center has a 170-year history of educating physicians and providing care for the incredibly diverse San Francisco population, with a focus on the medically underserved. 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 uninsured, undocumented, and medically underserved. We’re also the official healthcare provider for the SF Giants, and we’ve been recognized as a national 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, from immigrant families to San Francisco’s Silicon Valley tech innovators. It’s true that the more you see, the more you learn and you will see and learn more than you can imagine. 

Academics
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 have the opportunity to 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 national recognition at the ACP Annual Meeting.  

St. Mary’s residents can rotate to UCSF and zSFG for Emergency Medicine, Neurology, Hematology/Oncology, Nephrology, Endocrinology, and a wide variety of elective rotations where they work alongside UCSF residents and fellows. UCSF and California Northstate University medical students rotate at St. Mary’s for inpatient and outpatient rotations, and several Stanford fellowships and residencies have core rotations at St. Mary’s. UCSF faculty run our inpatient teaching service and participate actively in noon conference, core seminars, POCUS training, and resident mentorship. St. Mary’s has a collaborative relationship with UCSF for inpatient admission of patients for limb salvage, cardiac EP, adolescent psychiatry, or complex migraine on designated services at St. Mary’s.

Through our academic associations with UCSF and regional medical schools, our residents have the opportunity to teach and supervise third and fourth-year medical students doing medicine clerkships and sub-internship on the medical and ICU wards. Stanford, UCSF and CPMC residents and fellows train at St. Mary’s for dedicated rotations in neurology, physical rehabilitation medicine, interventional vascular, sports orthopedics, plastic and microvascular surgery, cardiac electrophysiology, and adolescent psychiatry.

Our faculty
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 teachers 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 resident by name, and play a very active role in mentoring residents for their future careers. All Core St. Mary’s faculty are UCSF professors, and many of our faculty hold academic appointments at Stanford, California Northstate and Creighton. Resident satisfaction with our faculty is rated as outstanding on annual ACGME surveys.

Our residents
Our Preliminary interns come from excellent medical schools and match into 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, and most remain in touch with us for years. Our categorical residents are recruited from academically excellent medical schools throughout the world. We are strongly committed to training residents who represent the same cultural and racial diversity we value in our patients, so in addition US grads, 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. As a group our residents are remarkably happy, resilient, socially conscious, intellectually curious and well-balanced people who love living and learning in San Francisco and are intensely committed to our mission to provide best-practice medical care to every patient, regardless of immigration and insurance status, and social equitable circumstances of ability to pay. 

Our graduates
Our graduates of the last 3 years achieved a 100% Board Pass rate and matched successfully in outstanding academic fellowships in cardiology, pulmonary-critical care, infectious disease, gastroenterology, nephrology, endocrinology, rheumatology, and allergy-immunology. Graduates entering primary care careers had their choice of practice opportunities in the Bay Area with several choosing to remain at St. Mary’s. Residents choosing hospitalist careers secured positions at UCSF and other top regional centers.