We are very familiar with the rigorous lifestyle that comes with being a resident or fellow. We were in your shoes once!
We also know how nice it can be to have a helpful ear and some guidance during difficult times from someone who has been in your position.
Our Wellness Champions are here for just that. Feel free to reach out to any of them to set up time to chat.
John Allen, MD
I'm a Maryland lifer and have been on campus for all levels of training.
I'm familiar with the struggles and sacrifice that can accompany a life in medical practice, and I dealt with my own depression during residency. My journey to recovery motivated a desire to look out for other healthcare providers' health and well-being.
As a chief resident and faculty member, I'm very familiar with the available resources on campus. I actively direct wellness initiatives within the School of Medicine and want to be a shoulder to lean on for anyone encountering hardships.
I'm thrilled to be asked to participate as a Wellness Champion, and I look forward to sitting down with anyone who wants to talk or may need a helping hand.
Forrest T. Closson, MD
I have been working with and mentoring medical students and residents for almost 20 years and have frequently been asked to talk to and advise several of our Pediatric and Med/Peds residents who were having difficulties or experiencing work/life balance issues.
I understand just how difficult life can be as a resident, especially one with a family and a busy workload. My first child was born 3 days before I started my residency and suffered through many Q3 call months during my intern year. Then, during my last year of residency, my wife (and now 2-year-old son) moved into a different city as she was starting her own residency. In addition, I have personally seen how work/life balance issues caused my brother to switch residencies mid-program and how similar issues caused my wife to give up clinical medicine, assuming a non-patient care position within the Maryland Department of Health.
I firmly believe that being a physician with the ability to care for our patients is an honor and does entail significant sacrifice to achieve our desired goals. However; I also believe that evolving demands of medicine (long hours, endless documentation and time spent apart from family/missed family events) in addition to the emotional trauma we all experience in the day-to-day performance of our jobs can leave many young physicians with a sense of burnout, turmoil and bitterness.
I believe that the best way for physicians to achieve their own "wellness," to avoid "burnout" and to stay committed and focused to the profession is to focus on obtaining a healthy work/life balance, focusing on such things as faith, family, fellowship with friends and engaging in enjoyable outdoor activities. As the saying goes "Happy Wife - Happy Life," the same can be applied to physicians "Happy Doc ..." You get the picture.
Janaki Deepak, MD
Internal Medicine – Pulmonary/Critical Care
I am in the middle zone of my life nearly being 50 and having a 23-year-old son. This is my second career in medicine as I am a radiologist by training from India. I have been very interested in work/life balance and finding joy in what we do after I had a personal experience, which really changed my life.
I was working too many shifts and keeping late hours, which affected my mental and physical health to an extent that I was emotionally exhausted. It made me into a person that I couldn't live with or identify with anymore. Even though I did not get into depersonalization, I was very close to it and struggling.
My husband and son finally helped me see that I was harming myself, made me start taking compulsory breaks, and taught me it was okay to say no. This was a difficult lesson for me to do that much and no more.
I shared my experiences with the internal medicine residents and that actually helped lighten the load. I know a lot of us in medicine want to be nice and helpful, and we take on a lot because we feel obligated to but I have realized that if I do not volunteer someone else will and that is okay.
It is important to be functionally happy in full capacity than be overloaded, sad and angry.
I always felt I had to prove to others that I was worthy, which was my grave mistake. I now concentrate instead on making myself happy and satisfied in the work I do and the roles I play, and have found it much more fulfilling. I am happy to discuss the good, bad and ugly of my journey in medicine to help prevent others making the same mistakes I did.
Andrea Desai, MD
“Health is a state of mind, wellness is a state of being.” - J. Stanford
As a former medical student and OBGYN resident at UMMC, I understand the rigor and challenge of medical training at our institution. After my residency, I ventured out into the world to complete a Maternal-Fetal Medicine fellowship at Yale School of Medicine, because I felt it was important to expand my horizons and perspectives. My interest in well-being and burnout began there, when I was asked to be an advisor for a newly created OBGYN residency wellness committee.
Leading a wellness committee inspired me to seek further educational opportunities to strengthen my knowledge base. The more I learned, the more I found myself becoming increasingly invested in and passionate about the subject matter. More importantly though, it taught me about the importance of having an open mind, an open dialogue and a willing ear.
As a Wellness Champion at University of Maryland, I pledge to continue to support and mentor our medical trainees in whatever way that I can. I hope that I can be a resource to help guide individuals toward realizing that personal wellbeing is not a one-size-fits-all concept (and meditation/yoga are not the only solutions).
I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but my door is always open to those who are looking for support, for ways to build resilience, for strategies to integrate work and life, and for ways to feel happier in their lives overall.
Katelyn E. Donohue, MD
Internal Medicine – Pediatrics
I am an Internal Medicine, Pediatrics trained attending, and I work in the Intermediate Care Unit, on the General Medicine teaching services, and in the Pediatric Emergency Room.
I am very interested in resident and medical student education and am currently pursuing a master's degree in Education in the Health Professions through the Johns Hopkins School of Education. In my personal life, I am married to a pediatrician, have a new baby (June 2019), and a rescued chocolate lab, whom I adore. I graduated from residency in 2017, and I developed an interest in addressing burnout and wellness issues first as a chief resident, and have continued to address these issues as an attending.
I remember the rigor and stress of residency well and I am excited to work with residents from all specialties on making your lives better! Topics that are of a special interest to me include: balancing a career with being a parent, the experience of women in medicine, working with residents to build superior interpersonal skills, and teaching senior residents how to cultivate wellness in interns and medical students. I am looking forward to working with you, please reach out to me anytime!
Dara Farber, MD
I am originally from upstate New York and graduated from the combined Internal Medicine-Pediatrics residency program at UMMC in 2016. I am currently an attending in the Medical Intermediate Care Unit and on the General Medicine teaching service. My interests are in medical education, resident mentoring, work-life balance and women in medicine.
In my free time I enjoy traveling, yoga and spending time with my Australian Shepherd, Levi. I completed the UMSOM Healing Pathways course in 2019, and have a special interest in Integrative Medicine techniques as a means to manage stress, build resiliency and prevent burnout.
Caron Hong, MD
I am an Associate Professor and Program Director in the Department of Anesthesiology.
I help mentor and guide our residents and medical students through their journey and feel that I can be a resource to others as a Wellness Champion.
My family, and being a mother, makes my need for a work-life balance very important.
Rosemary Kozar, MD, PhD
I am a Professor of Surgery, Director of Translational Research at Shock Trauma, and the Associate Director of the Shock Trauma Anesthesia Research (STAR) Center. I am also married with two grown children. I spent many years as a resident, taking four years out to get a PhD. During those years, I also obtained a husband and a son and then had my daughter as a junior faculty.
I understand the demands of residency and raising a family.
Although it's always a struggle to find time, I have been committed to health and wellness. I am up at 5 am every day to get in my work out and enjoy hiking in the middle of nowhere when I can get away. I am married to an avid skier so I also spend time in the winter outdoors. I am happy to discuss family, work/life balance, fitness or anything on your mind.
Jessica Lee, MD
Internal Medicine – Pediatrics
Wellness, resiliency, burnout... the words used over and over in recent years regarding medical education and its effects on learners. What does it actually mean?
It would be easy to improve your wellness if I could give you more days off (what I asked for at every meeting with my program director when I was a resident), but the reality is I cannot. What I can offer is someone who will listen to you without judgment and work with you to get through the inevitable frustrations, disappointments and feelings of impostor syndrome we have all felt at one time or another. I am trained in internal medicine and pediatrics, and am currently an attending at the general internal medicine clinic. I also attend on the inpatient internal medicine team (Med 2) a few weeks scattered throughout the academic year.
A little bit about me… I was raised in California but lived in New York City and Milwaukee before landing in Baltimore for residency. My husband is not in the medical field, which is wonderfully balancing but also challenging at times to explain why medicine makes me feel the way I do.
My wellness interests include: balancing life with a non-medical partner, the experience of women in medicine, and cultivating meaningful relationships with our peers and our patients.
Please reach out at any time, I am here for you!
Mary J. Njoku, MD
I am an Associate Professor and Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), the Matjasko Professor for Education in Anesthesiology, and the ACGME Designated Institutional Official for Graduate Medical Education for the University of Maryland Medical Center.
My undergraduate education is from the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, which provided a rich liberal arts experience that, in addition to the values instilled by my parents and family, supported a sense of direction and openness to the understanding of others, which follows through my medical career.
After graduation from Meharry Medical College, my first residency training was in Internal Medicine at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, followed by a second residency in Anesthesiology then Fellowship in Critical Care Medicine--both at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation
I have been a member of the faculty of the UMSOM in the Department of Anesthesiology since 1992 and served as the Anesthesiology Residency Program Director for 19 years and for 3 years as the Program Director for the Anesthesiology Critical Care Medicine Fellowship. I have practiced in Critical Care and Anesthesiology for most of my career.
While reflecting on the experiences as a learner, student, trainee, faculty member, colleague and clinician, my goal has been to positively influence the learning environment and to provide a space that welcomes all learners and provides support during professional development. I look forward to the opportunity to hear from you.
Deb Schofield, PhD, DNP, CRNP, FAANP
I am the Senior Program Manager for Ambulatory Nurse Practitioners (NPs) at UMMC and serve as the Director of the ACNP Post Graduate Critical Care Fellowship Program. Also, I am an experienced Nurse Practitioner, having received my Master of Science degree in 1995 from UMSON, followed by a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree in 2009.
I was awarded the 2009 Linda Strangio Award for best scientific contribution in a joint practice JRN publication, "Carotid Dissection: Bluntly", and serve currently on the editorial boards of the Journal for Radiology Nursing, the Journal of Professional Nursing and the Internet Journal for Advanced Nursing Practice. I also served on the Collegiate Commission for Nursing Education's Board of Commissioners for two elected terms and am completing my PhD at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
I elected to serve as a Wellness Champion at UMMC, recognizing the much needed peer support of staff during personal and professional times of stress. Since my time at UMMC began, I have been humbled by the professional and personal support of colleagues and staff which has assisted me greatly through times of personal stress and loss. I am excited to work with my colleagues in this capacity.
Nirav Shah, MD
Internal Medicine – Pulmonary/Critical Care
I am an Associate Professor of Medicine, the Associate Chief for Education & Faculty Development in the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, and the Assistant Dean for Curriculum at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
As a former fellowship program director, I've been an advocate for trainees since 2009, and continue to focus on education at the undergraduate and graduate medical education levels.
In addition, I am a faculty advisor for the Humanism Symposium, which offers UMSOM and members of the Baltimore community the opportunity to examine the full range of what it means to be a humanistic physician.
Lee-Ann Wagner, MD
Internal Medicine – Pediatrics
A lifelong Maryland resident, I attended medical school and completed a combined residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at University of Maryland. I currently work in the department of medicine as a hospitalist, with focus on clinical education, discharge care transitions and hospital resource utilization.
Resident wellness is of particular interest to me, having faced various personal hardships myself during training and beyond. The intensity of residency training rarely grants a reprieve to allow proper processing of unanticipated personal adversity. When I reflect on my own experience, I believe guidance from another doctor who had persevered through similar circumstances would have helped me immensely at the time.
Even in the absence of hardship, residency is overwhelming. I hope trainees find this program to be a source of support, should they encounter difficulties balancing their own needs with the rigors and expectations of residency.
George Willis, MD
I am a graduate of the Emergency Medicine Residency here at the University of Maryland. I remained to complete a year of Chief Residency and a Faculty Development Fellowship during which I completed the ACEP Teaching Fellowship. I was then hired as the Director of Undergraduate Medical Education and, subsequently, an Assistant Residency Program Director for the Department of Emergency Medicine.
I have a passion for mentoring young physicians and physicians-to-be with a focus on bettering education in medicine as well as promoting wellness. I have lectured at multiple local, national and international conferences on how to better education in medicine as well as promotion of wellness. I believe wellness is not just about making the work environment amenable to physician wellness but also how to help physicians realize wellness within themselves.
Michelle Willis, MS, CRNP
Shock Trauma Center
My interest in becoming a wellness champion stems from my investment in addressing the cultural growth at UMMS/STC. Working here for almost 20 years has afforded me the insight to the stresses of our particular environment. Supportive resources should be available from colleagues who may share the unique perspective, and I'm happy to offer my support.
In addition, I'm a certified yoga instructor and Reiki Level 2, allowing me to direct some holistic resources for life/work balance.