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Class of 2023

Click the links below to jump to each bio: 

Jake Beecher | Derek ChristensenSiri EricksonMichael FalahatChristine Fricke 
Beau Fry | Joseph GerberLize LoubserHolly LoutKathy Nguyen
Sidney Pearson | Justin ReiswigJordan SmithGabe Stewart
Grace StrellaBlake Stucky | Garrett WalkerGarrett Westman 

 

Jake Beecher

Hometown:  Medicine Lodge, KS
Undergraduate:  Grinnell College
Medical School:  Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences

Bio:  Hey everyone! I grew up in Medicine Lodge, KS a small town about an hour and half away from Wichita. I did just about everything one could do in a small town and decided to go to college in a slightly bigger small town in Iowa to play baseball and football. After graduation, I married my high school sweetheart, Mara, and moved to Kansas City for medical school where I went to Kansas City University. Medical school brought its own beautiful challenges when we had our daughter during second year and our son during fourth year! Currently, most of my free time is spent soaking up as much family time as I can get with my wonderfully supportive wife and crazy kids! 

From early on in high school, I had always known that I wanted to go into medicine, but what kind of doctor I wanted to be changed just about every year! I finally settled on family medicine for a couple of reasons. First, having grown up in a small town with a single family doctor, I saw first hand the impact a single doctor could have on a whole community. Second, I always enjoyed having the ability to sit down and really get to know your patients. I didn’t think there was a single other specialty where this was everyday life, other than Family Medicine, where you get to know and can treat your whole patient, not just one aspect of them.

Why Via Christi?  Having rotated in Wichita as a medical student for 2 years, often with the VCFM residents, I saw first hand some of the best qualities of this program. The support and camaraderie that the residents have for each other, the incredible knowledge and willingness to teach that the faculty and specialists exhibit, and the hands-on experience that every single person here received, are only a few reasons why Via Christi was such a great choice!

Passions/Hobbies:  Just about any sport or sport related activity, Family time, Cooking/grilling, Board games.

Favorite Movies:  Lord of the Rings, Remember the Titans, Marvel Movies

Favorite Quotes:  “Never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game.” -Babe Ruth

Advice for medical students:  When trying to decide where you want to go for residency, there is no magic check-list that will give you all the answers you want. At the end of the day, your decision should be based on the intangibles that you can't quantify on any list. The people, the "feel," the fit. Every program can give you training, but only a few will have those intangibles that really make a difference. 

Plans after residency:  Head to a smaller town in Kansas and practice in a way that will benefit the community best. Whether that is with OB or sports medicine or anywhere in the middle, we will see what the future holds!

 

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Derek Christensen

Hometown:  Crawford, Texas
Undergraduate:  Baylor University
Medical School:  Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine

Bio:  Howdy, y’all! I grew up just outside of a small Texas town called Crawford, which is near Waco (yes Chip and Joanna Gaines live near my house.) I am blessed to have two amazing parents, two brothers, and more cousins than I can keep track of. 

When I was 6 months old, I had open-heart surgery. When I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with NF1. These things meant that I saw far too many specialists and MRI machines growing up. With all that, I am blessed that I have no physical limitations. It was in high school, after realizing all that the medical community gave to me and how I was blessed for being healthy, that I decided I wanted to give back and become a physician as well. I chose Family Medicine because of the variety of care and the ability to have continuity with not only a patient, but with an entire community.

Why Via Christi?  As it’s echoed by my fellow residents, it’s the people that drew me here and away from Texas. This was the only high quality full-spectrum FM residency, that not only felt like home but that the residents/faculty all genially enjoyed working/living here. I knew that by coming here, I would not only grow as a physician but also as a leader for the community that I will one day serve.


Passions and Hobbies:  Cooking, reading, running, dancing,  doing anything outside, and board games

Favorite Books:  Anything by CS Lewis or Atul Gawande, Mountains beyond Mountains, When Breath Becomes Air, In the Likeness of God, Death of Ivan Lynch, Roses Among Thorns (If you ever want to borrow any of these or other books, just ask!)

Favorite Quotes:  
“If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.”   - Woody Allen.

“Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”   - C.S. Lewis.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be gifted, talented, or  special ?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”   - Coach Carter

Post Residency Plan?   This changes by the week and sometimes by the day. I can see myself doing full-spectrum in a rural setting or inner-city area in Texas or Kansas, or possibly internationally for a time-period. Hospital and rural emergency medicine also sound like a solid option.

Advice for Medical Students?  When it comes to ranking make a list of your non-negotiables, whatever they may be and stick to them, they are important to you and that’s just what it is. For me, it was high-quality hands-on training and the people, and that’s why I am here.

 

 

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Siri Erickson

Hometown:  Toledo, Oregon
Undergraduate:  University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, Washington)
Medical School:  Oregon Health and Science University (Portland, Oregon)

Bio:  Hello future pals! I hail from the lovely state of Oregon (seriously though, if you have never been to the PNW, put it on your short list - I will be happy to give adventure recs!) I spent my childhood in various rural/mid-sized towns with my parents and younger brother Marcel (see photo, also with his wife Sarah). Growing up, medicine was never something on my radar. Through various friendships and experiences during college, I started to realize my white privilege and the easy access I had to education that I didn't necessarily earn. I began considering medicine after volunteering at a local free clinic in Tacoma WA, where I saw the potential to use my access to education to expand access to healthcare for underserved communities. After college, I spent two years in Los Angeles as an intern with Servant Partners Organization, where I learned more about how to enter into a community as an outsider and work with local leaders on community development projects. From there, I went back to Oregon for medical school, and I fell in love with Family Medicine, a specialty that emphasizes meeting patients where they are at and considers social determinants of health. 

Why Via Christi?  This was an unexpected choice for me - when I started the application process, I never pictured that I would end up in the Midwest! It's hard to put into words exactly why Via Christi - I interviewed because of the full-spectrum training (OB, inpatient, POCUS, procedures, etc.), but I came here because of the people. I saw faculty and residents that I wanted to emulate and grow from professionally, personally, and spiritually. I found a culture of humility and learning here. At my time at Via Christi so far, I have been simultaneously challenged and supported. Via Christi is a place where you can grow and flourish as both a physician and human being. 

Passions and Hobbies:  Dancing (whether it's tap dancing, salsa, west coast swing, or anything in between!), trail running, backpacking, rock climbing, and traveling. Also general silliness, new activities, and deep conversations.

Favorite Books:  It's hard to pick a favorite book of all time, but here are some recent favs: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Aichie, Rethinking Incarceration by Dominique DuBois Gillard, and Educated by Tara Westover

Favorite Podcasts:  This American Life, Reply All, Radio Ambulante, Ear Hustle, The Liturgists Podcast

Post Residency Plan?  TBD - I know I want to work within underserved medicine and practice OB, but still figuring out what context (rural, urban, international, etc.) 

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Michael Falahat

Hometown:  Birmingham, Alabama
Undergraduate:  University of Alabama at Birmingham
Medical School:  Ross University

Bio: Hello! My name is Michael Falahat. I was born and raised in the country of Jordan. I moved to the United States at the age of 13 with both my parents and 3 sisters. I barely spoke any English... well, I knew 5 words “sorry, I do not understand.” I had no idea how anything worked, and I failed every single class first semester in 9th grade. Rough start for sure, and a huge cultural shock, but by God’s grace, I was able to carry out a full conversation by year 1, and things got a lot better from there. I’ve always known that I wanted to be a doctor. Growing up, I remember how hard it was for people to get medical care in my hometown. There weren’t too many medical facilities and people were too poor to afford health care. I told myself that one day I’m going to be a doctor and help people in need. That passion only grew stronger and stronger with time. I’m thankful to be where I am today and to do what I’m passionate about every single day at one of the best residency programs in the country, is a dream come true. I also got married to my beautiful wife Meriana 2 weeks before residency started. Specifically, before my medicine block, first week being on nights... soooo, that was interesting. Speaking of my wife, she makes the BEST avocado toast known to mankind, just saying. 2 more things about me. I’m a huge outdoor enthusiast. I love rocking climbing, hiking, kayaking, and really anything outdoors. I also love music. I play multiple instruments, mainly guitar and I enjoy writing my own songs. So if you play an instrument, let me know. I’m down for a good jam session!

Why Via Christi?  I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS PROGRAM! I honestly can’t see myself being anywhere else. The program feels like one big family. The faculty are amazing and take a personal interest in you. Everyone is willing to help. I must have gotten 10 different calls/messages from residents offering to help me move in. The program is strong medically with emphasis on ultrasound and procedures which is something I’m very passionate about. It is truly full spectrum; you get to do everything! Side note, don’t be weirded out if everyone keeps talking about the YMCA during interviews... well, now that I’m a member, I kinda see what the hype is all about.

Passions/Hobbies:  Rock climbing, hiking, writing music and playing guitar, traveling and hanging out with my wife

Favorite Books?  The Bible, Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Favorite Music?  Radiohead (best band on earth), Alternative Rock, Worship music

Favorite Movie?  Lord of the Rings

Favorite Quotes?  “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” ~C.S. Lewis
Psalm 16:9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Favorite Podcasts?  HeartCry Missionary Society, the Bible Project, Ask Pastor John, The Joe Rogan Experience, Sawbones, The Curb Siders Internal Medicine

Post Residency Plan?  I have a passion for medical missions. Not entirely sure how that would look like. Anywhere I end up, I’d like to practice full spectrum family medicine including surgical obstetrics and procedures.

 

 

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Christine Fricke

Hometown:  Seminole, Florida
Undergraduate:  John Brown
Medical School:  Liberty University

Bio:   I was born and raised on the Gulf Coast of Florida with 2 older brothers, whose constant bullying and bickering (err, love and affection) helped to shape me into the person I am today. I also have amazing parents who showed me day by day how to work hard and love others. I attended college at John Brown University in NW Arkansas, where I studied Biology and Chemistry and met some lifelong friends. It was also during my time as an undergrad that I had the opportunity to spend a month in Uganda on a medical mission trip, which helped to solidify my desire to become a physician. After college I returned to Florida and worked as a pharmacy tech while applying to medical school. It was during that time my boss introduced me to family medicine, and, well, here I am today. Along the way I have gained 2 sisters-in-law and I am the proud aunt to 3 of the world’s most amazing nephews.

Why Via Christi?  The location, mostly. I grew up along the sandy beaches of Florida where the sun always shines and the seagulls can be heard atop the crashing of the salty waves. When it came time to look for residency programs, the allure of packing my bags and moving myself and all my life possessions 20+ hours away from the people I know and love to a landlocked state that is best known for how much wheat it produces…well, that just seemed like too great of an opportunity to pass up on. Ok ok, so maybe I jest. What really brought me all the way out to the great plains for residency? The people and the program (but after moving here I can also promise that the place is pretty great too). During medical school I learned that not all family medicine programs are created equally. I am grateful I had the opportunity to work with family medicine docs in rural towns that performed endoscopy and delivered babies, and I knew I wanted to incorporate that into my future practice. I was looking for a program that would allow me to practice family medicine to the fullest, knowing that residency is a critical time to build my skills and lay the foundation for the rest of my career. My original list did not include Via Christi. I had made a list of places East of the Mississippi River, but after I saw what the program had to offer (strong OB, inpatient medicine, POCUS training, sports med, pediatrics, international…) and met the amazing residents and faculty at the program, I decided to trade in hurricanes for tornadoes and move to the Midwest. 

Passions/Hobbies:  cooking/baking, restoring antique furniture, running, hiking, watching The Office, Parks and Rec, or Netflix original docuseries (yes, including true gems like Tiger King) 

Favorite Podcasts:  The Curbsiders, Dr. Death, The Office Ladies, most podcasts put out by Wondery

Favorite Quote:  “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”   – C. S. Lewis 

Post Residency Plan?  Time will tell, but I hope to practice full scope family medicine in a rural/underserved setting.

 

 

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Beau Fry

Hometown:  Ewing, Nebraska
Undergraduate:  Wayne State College, Nebraska
Medical School:  Des Moines University

Bio:  Hey there! I’m a small-town kid from rural Nebraska where my hometown has more cows than people, not kidding (<400). I was raised just outside of my grandparent’s dairy farm by my parents and 3 other siblings where faith, family, and community are everything. Even though the top two social activities were driving around and hanging out at bonfires, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Growing up in a huge agricultural community, I was the black sheep that was drawn to the sciences and medicine. I chose medicine as a vocation because it would best allow me to care and preserve the shrinking rural communities.

I attended a small state college, Wayne State College, where I played football and received my degree in Biology. I definitely took the non-traditional route to medical school as I did two years of phlebotomy and a one-year post-baccalaureate program at Creighton University before being accepted to DMU. 

I married my highschool sweet-heart and have an adorable daughter, Lainey Jo #girldad. We have enjoyed our transition to Wichita, visiting many of the local parks, breweries, and restaurants. I couldn’t be more honored and excited to be a part of the Via Christi family. Oh and of course GO BIG RED!!!


Why Via Christi?   I chose Via Christi because it has some of the best training and people (both faculty and fellow residents) that I could ever hope for. The full-scope family medicine training was some of the best I had come across as a medical student. I remember being on my Sub-I here doing a busy overnight shift on the OB floor and leaving that morning with the biggest smile on my face . I felt the program was well rounded in all facets: inpatient, continuity clinic with OMT, POCUS, plenty of procedures, and scopes. 

While I will admit my initial impression of Wichita was that it was a little rough around the edges, the more I submerged myself the more at home I felt. It has awesome YMCA’s (super kid friendly), great parks, an interactive zoo, and a great food and brewery scene.  

What I found that set Via Christi apart from other programs was their interest not only in my well-being, but the well-being of my family (wife and daughter). The people here are so genuine I knew that my family and I would have an amazing support system from day one.

I also knew that this program was going to push me and help me be the best physician I could be. Whether that be keeping up with evidenced-based medicine, procedural training, informative didactics, and faculty/mentors galore with a wide variety of teaching styles and interests. It’s cheesy but true, this isn’t just a residency, it’s a family.

Hobbies:  Exercising/Working out, going on adventures with my wife and daughter, recreational sports indoor/outdoor, hunting/fishing, cooking, and I love going to the movies with the family (pre-COVID).

Favorite Books:  Moon Walking with Einstein, Hammer of God, 12 Rules to Life

Favorite Quote?  “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times” - Martin Luther
“When you're at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.” - Theodore Roosevelt

Post Residency Plan?   I plan on returning to rural Nebraska to practice full-scope family medicine at a critical access hospital doing inpatient, outpatient, OMT, obstetrics with C-section privileges, emergency medicine, and scopes.

 

 

 

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Joseph Gerber

Hometown:  Conway Springs, KS 
Undergraduate:  Kansas State University
Medical School:  University of Kansas - Wichita

Bio:  Born and raised in small-town Kansas. I’m the second youngest of nine and my beautiful wife is the third youngest of eight. Naturally, we’d like to have eight kids. Luckily, we already have one adorable daughter with the chubbiest cheeks you’ll ever see. I’ve had the best support system anyone could ask for with all this family. Outside of medicine I enjoy the easy life, taking time for God and going on long walks with my little family. 

Why Via Christi?   After spending four years of medical school in Wichita learning with the Via Christi program it became an obvious choice. I’m surrounded by role models that will challenge me to become the best version of myself daily. From my experience working with Via Christi alumni in rural Kansas, I have also become confident that I will not be limited when I head out into the world after residency. I’ll be able to practice safe, full-scope family medicine. 

Passions and Hobbies:  Basketball, golf, softball, board games, cooking/grilling/smoking, going to the lake

Favorite Quote:  My dad wrote this Bible verse on a piece of paper when I was in grade school, then taped it to the top of the back door for us to read every time we left the house. 15-20 years later the verse on the same piece of paper is still there: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." - Matthew 22:37

Advice for Medical Students:  You’ll hear this from several of your superiors: Imposter syndrome never ends. This is good though, it’s important to stay humble. When you have doubts try to keep in mind how far you’ve come since you were a pre-med student. 

Post Residency Plan?  I plan to go out into rural, south-central Kansas to practice broad spectrum family medicine including scopes, OB with procedures, inpatient medicine, and emergency medicine. 

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Lize Loubser

Hometown:  Pretoria, South Africa
Undergraduate:  Hope College in Holland, Michigan
Medical School:  Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan

Bio:  Originally from South Africa, I was born in Cape Town and spent most of my childhood in Pretoria, South Africa with parents, older brother, and two younger sisters. As a child I remember enjoying family trips to the ocean, camping in the Drakensburg mountains, doing ballet, and playing field hockey. In 2007 my dad's engineering job took a transatlantic turn, and my immediate family and I moved to Michigan. 

Amidst the culture shock of starting highschool in a new country, I first became interested in the science side of medicine in my 9th grade health class, and by my first year of college I realized the relational aspect of being a physician was important to me too. Since then I've been interested in broad scope of rural family medicine and the opportunity it affords to meet needs anywhere in the world. My journey through medical school and residency thus far has very much confirmed this as a good path for me.


Why Via Christi?  I applied to Via Christi because I was looking for full scope family medicine programs, and it seemed to fill that niche. I didn't expect to rank a residency program in Kansas as my first choice; however, when I visited on interview day that changed. Besides seeing the broad scope of training and OB experience I was looking for here at Via Christi, I found a welcoming and supportive community where I could belong, more so than at any other program I visited. Inpatient blocks require long hours working, but it's so much better to do it here where the residents and faculty I work with care about me, are fun to be around, and want to help me succeed. If I'm going to have a bad day, this a good place to have a bad day. It also turns out Wichita is much cooler than expected! Lots of bike trails, a fun rock climbing gym, and outdoor waterparks at the YMCAs!

Passions/Hobbies:  Dancing (Salsa, West Coast Swing, Lindyhop, anything!), rock climbing, gardening, cycling, swimming in the ocean, backpacking, ultimate frisbee, anything outdoors. My bio photo is from an overnight back country skiing trip with my brother in Northern California.

Favorite Books:  The Kite Runner; And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Post Residency Plan:  Currently thinking I'd like to do outpatient family medicine and OB including deliveries (and C-sections if applicable), possibly some inpatient medicine, but I'm not sure in which state or country.

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Holly Lout

Hometown:  The Woodlands, TX
Undergraduate:  Texas A&M  (Gig 'Em!)
Medical School:  Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine

Bio:  I grew up outside of Houston, Texas and decided it was time to finally leave the great state of Texas after falling in love with Wichita of all places.  I originally decided on applying to medical school after losing a friend to cancer and planned on becoming a pediatric oncologist.  Through a number of experiences and the right people placed in my life at the right time, I discovered Family Medicine.  The Lord used a few trips to Haiti and many conversations with the homeless at an outreach in Fort Worth to help me realize that Family Medicine would best equip me for the population I want to serve in my career.

Why Via Christi?  The people.  I did a sub-I here at the end of interview season and within the first week, I felt like I already had a family here.  I also felt that Via Christi was a place where my faith would deepen by growing and learning from many of the residents and faculty here.  I also was impressed by how the residents and attendings here were one big family.  Despite the program being one of the largest in the country for family medicine, everyone seemed to have strong friendships with each other.  I noticed that social activities outside of work were a priority.  And for those of you who like me are city people and are wary about moving to Kansas, Wichita is awesome!  There are tons of places to shop, a Starbucks on almost every corner (but really the local coffee shops are where it's at), and fantastic non-chain restaurants, many of which serve an amazing brunch (the most important meal of the day).  And we have TWO Targets, a Whole foods, Torchy's Tacos, an REI, and a Trader Joe's.  What more could you need? 


Hobbies:  Pre-Covid Era: Traveling the world!  I also enjoy Orange Theory, spin, running, and drinking wine.

Favorite Books:  The Bible, Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter series

Other Favorites:  Taylor Swift, The Notebook, Suits, Schitts Creek, This is Us

Post Residency Plan?  My dream is to work at an FQHC and practice full-scope family medicine with OB.  I also would like to be able to go overseas for a month at a time every year or so.

Advice:  When interviewing and making your rank list, consider the culture of the program and the people.  There are SO many fantastic family medicine residency programs across the country, so go where you will fit in best!  Ask yourself if you can see yourself not only working with the residents there, but also becoming part of their family.

 

 

 

 

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Kathy Nguyen

Hometown:  Santa Ana, California
Undergraduate:  University of California, Irvine
Medical School:  Western University of Health Sciences

Bio:   I was born in Vietnam and the oldest of four kids. Throughout my upbringing, my parents would take me on trips to remote places to work with and minister to isolated people. Naturally, I have gravitated towards similar communities throughout my life and deeply desire to serve in a similar way. 

In college, I double majored because I wanted to learn more about people (psychology) and communities (public health). In medical school, I chose family medicine because I value building long-term relationships with patients, the ability to provide care through all seasons of life, and opportunities to champion community health changes. During my time at UCI and medical school, I was fortunate to experience global health through coordinating trips to provide medical and educational services for remote villages in Southeast Asia. 

I also took a number of years between college and medical school to work as a project specialist for a pharmaceutical company and serve as a youth group leader (where I met Johnson, the youth pastor). My parents knew I was not fulfilled and persistently challenged me to pursue medicine as I had intended. Johnson and I got married a week before medical school. These are my key supporters, and I would not be where I am without their constant and unwavering support. 

 

 

Why Via Christi?   So, I had a few priorities....
- compatible mission
- strong full-spectrum training in obstetrics (including primary on C-sections), inpatient medicine, continuity clinic, pediatrics, OMM, and procedures (including EGDs and colonoscopies)
- supportive teaching culture of seniors and faculty
- supporting staff on-site (pharmacists and behavioral health)
- diverse population with underserved patients
- international opportunities
- spousal inclusiveness
- essential resources (designated work space and free food)

People commented that I was asking for too much and that no “ideal” program exists. However, I discovered my ideal program during my sub-I and witnessed the generous and supportive culture of VCFM. A resident family hosted me for a month and fed me home cooked meals. Spouses of residents, whom I have never met, picked me up at the airport at midnight. On rotation, residents arrived early to make sure the night team could sign out and leave on time. No other program matched up to VCFM. My husband and I were confident I would not only become proficient in my clinical, procedural, and people skills, but together we would become better people and grow stronger in our faith. We ranked VCFM #1 and were overjoyed our prayers were answered! We cannot wait to meet and host you when you visit Wichita! 

Passions and Hobbies:  Being my husband’s sous chef. Finding good deals. Airports and plane rides. Being with people and open to doing whatever they enjoy! It could be eating, talking, hiking, camping, fishing, cooking, crafting, playing board games, or watching a show/movie/football.  

Favorite Books:  Philippians and James, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, Sacred Privilege by Kay Warren. A number of mystery/suspense novels.

Favorite Shows and Movies:  Friends, The Amazing Race, Grey’s Anatomy, This is Us, The Blind Side, Instant Family, The Blacklist.

Favorite Quotes:  "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift, that is why it is called the present."
"We're sorry about the bumpy landing. It wasn't the pilot's fault. It was the asphalt."

Post Residency Plan?  I have so many plans! I want to practice full-spectrum family medicine in an under-resourced area and go on missions overseas annually. I enjoy teaching and admin, so I hope to become a faculty member in a residency program. Personally, my husband and I have plans to adopt and foster children. We are still considering staying in Kansas or going back west. We have enjoyed living in Wichita and the community we have built here, so we are excited to see where my husband is called for ministry. 

Advice for Medical Students?  Residency is only 3 years and in many ways shapes the trajectory of your life. Consider your priorities. Seek out a program that will stretch you.

 

 

 

 

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Sidney Pearson

Hometown:  Fort Collins, Colorado
Undergraduate:  Colorado State University
Medical School:  Rocky Vista University

Bio:  Hey there! Thanks for checking out our program! I was born and raised in Fort Collins, Colorado, where I fell in love with the outdoors and met my high school sweetheart and now husband, Seth. I went to Colorado State University for my undergraduate degree, and I loved it so much there that I stayed an extra year to earn my Master's degree in anatomy. I went to medical school thinking that I would become a surgeon, but during my clinical rotations, I realized that full-spectrum family medicine was the right field for me. I love the continuity of care, the diversity of the patient population, and the broad-scope of training.

Why Via Christi?   Having spent my entire life prior to residency in the beautiful mountains of Colorado, I would never have pictured myself actually wanting to move to Wichita, Kansas. But at the end of the day, the culture of this program and the scope and strength of its training would have been enough to convince me to move anywhere. I did a sub-I with Via Christi early on in my fourth year of medical school, and I was completely floored by the community I found here. The residents seemed genuinely happy. The faculty were incredibly approachable. The residents' spouses and children were as much a part of the program as the residents themselves. I never came across another program where I felt so welcomed, supported, and respected as a sub-I, and I have found that to be even more true as a resident. The people in this program are wonderful, and the full-spectrum training is phenomenal (particularly if you love OB)!

Passions and Hobbies:  Singing, crafting, home improvement, dancing, hiking, archery, going to Disney parks!

Favorite Books?  Harry Potter (especially the audio books)!

Favorite Quote?  "Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."  - Gandalf

Post Residency Plan?  My goal is to practice full-spectrum family medicine (including OB), with an emphasis on medical weight management. I love teaching, so I may end up working in academic medicine at some point!

 

 

 

 

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Justin Reiswig

Hometown:  Wichita, KS
Undergraduate:  Tabor College for 1 year, then Newman University
Medical School:  University of Kansas - Wichita

Bio:  I was born and raised in Wichita, KS, and I like to joke that Wichita hasn’t managed to get rid of me yet as I went to Undergrad, Med School, and now Residency in Wichita. Growing up, I was surrounded by medicine and don’t remember ever wanting to be anything other than a doctor. My Dad (as well as my uncle, their cousin, and my great uncle) are all practicing Family Physicians, and my Mom is/was a nurse by training. In addition, my paternal grandmother who is now in her 80s, has been a nurse for greater than 50 years and continues working to this day (she has a work ethic I can only hope to aspire to). We have managed to keep it in the family, as my older brother will graduate Med School in 2021, my younger sister is a nurse, and my younger brother is currently in college with plans to pursue Medical School. Growing up, I spent many days going to “the office” to visit my dad, going to his clinic on the weekend to freeze warts and then play with the liquid nitrogen, and having family friends come get impromptu stitches on our kitchen table. However, as I grew older, I began to appreciate how much of a difference physicians (especially Family Physicians—No Bias…) could make in their communities and in their patients’ lives. I knew I wanted to pursue a career where I could solve complex problems, serve multiple roles (doctor, counselor, teacher, etc.), and, most importantly, get to personally know and take care of people from all walks of life and be a healer and beacon of hope. Medicine aside, I married my best friend and high-school sweetheart, Erin, at the young age of 19 after our freshman year of college. She received her degree in accounting and has had the grace to love and support me through **years** of studying. I am so thankful to have had a steadfast companion every step along the way in my journey to become a physician. Although we have not yet braved parenthood (we’ll see if this statement remains true by the end of residency), we became parents to an Aussiedoodle during my 4th year of medical school. 

Why Via Christi?  Where to begin? The short answer is the people and the community of the program. The long answer? Via Christi has always been on my radar as it is where my dad trained during his residency. In addition, during college I participated in a shadowing program which paired me with a resident in the program. I was shocked when the resident I was paired with told me he was from southern California. I asked him how/why somebody from California ended up in Kansas for training in Family Medicine, and he told me about Via Christi’s reputation as being one of the top Family Medicine programs in the country. Up until that point, I had no idea Via Christi was held in such high esteem. Moreover, throughout medical school, I continued to hear great things about the program and its residents. During my 3rd year of medical school, I was able to spend 2 days of my FM rotation with the VC residents, and I felt very welcomed by the residents. I felt challenged to be an active participant on the team and could tell the residents here really knew their stuff and valued my input. In addition, I knew that I would be welcome and encouraged to integrate my faith with my medical training as the residents prayed over patients on both days I spent with them. During my Sub-I as a 4th year student, I immediately felt that I was home. As I had more time to spend with the residents and faculty, I could tell that these were “my people,” and their personalities and values resonated with my own. I appreciated how all of the residents and faculty support each other, have mutual respect for each other, and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. I appreciated that the interns were regularly offered help by their seniors rather than being given all the scut work and that the residents regularly stepped up for each other when someone needed to trade a shift for personal or family reasons. I liked that the spouses and families of the residents were supported and included in activities, and I knew that my wife would be well-cared for. During the interview process and call-back, my wife also immediately felt welcomed and at home. In addition to a well-rounded and challenging curriculum which could train me to practice true full-spectrum Family Medicine, I felt that this program would care for me and my well-being and encourage and help me develop in my personal life as well. Finally, I believe that this program genuinely and intentionally works to maintain their mission statement, core values, and program aims to (among other things), “teach comprehensive Family Medicine to residents of character who are called to serve the community with an emphasis on patient-centered care” and “Create and nurture a culture of wellness and gratitude among residents, faculty, and staff by respecting each other and our patients, building individual and organizational resilience, and reducing unnecessary stressors.” 

Passions and Hobbies:  I am passionate about my family and love to spend time with them when I have time. I am blessed to be able to stay in Wichita and have my family close by. I am a Christian, and my faith is an important part of my life and how I view and approach the world. Other hobbies of mine include playing guitar, traveling, and disc golf (especially in the mountains—there is nothing more fun than chucking a frisbee down a mountain side while surrounded by beautiful scenery). 

Favorite Books:  The Bible, the Harry Potter series (I usually read them about once every year or two), Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Favorite Shows:  The Office, Parks and Recreation, House

Favorite Quotes:  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7 

“The privilege to begin does not imply the right to continue.”  - Unsure of original source, but Dr. Dooley said this during orientation 

Post Residency Plan?   I have always dreamed about joining my dad’s practice one day and working alongside him. I plan to practice full scope family medicine with inpatient and outpatient, urgent care, and procedures. At the moment, I do not see myself practicing OB long-term, but I am open to having my mind changed. I had never thought about pursuing a fellowship, but I may consider Sports Medicine. I also enjoy working with pre-med and medical students and plan to provide mentorship, shadowing, and clinical opportunities as an attending. I also look forward to working with my brother(s) and cousin down the road. 

Advice to Medical Students?  Know your priorities (inside and outside of medicine). When life inevitably comes at you—which it will—you need to have your priorities laid out and well-defined so you will make the right choices for yourself and your loved ones. As such, surround yourself with people who will help you define and maintain those priorities and who will step up for you and support you when needed. Work hard, but find balance between your personal and professional life. Continue to pursue your passions and do the things you love. Finally, enjoy the “slower” pace of 4th year. Continue to work hard on your rotations, but rest your mind and take care of yourself during your off time.

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Jordan Smith

Hometown:   McFarland, Wisconsin
Undergraduate:  Marquette University
Medical School:  University of Wisconsin

Bio:   Hi there! So glad you are reading through these! I found them incredibly helpful to get a feel for the program when I was building my residency short list. My name is Jordan, and I am a cheese loving, Packer cheering, Wisconsin Badger that is thrilled to be in the land of the Jayhawks (and Wildcats, for all you K-Stater's).  I was born and raised outside of Madison, WI with my sister, Allyson, by our two amazing parents, Bryan and Leslie. Growing up I had aspirations of becoming a pilot or engineer and I pursued my interests to Marquette University where I studied Biomedical Engineering. Halfway through undergrad, I met a Family doc who offered a chance to see what a career in medicine looked like, and I loved it. I came back home to Madison for Medical School, during which I discovered my excitement for Family Medicine. I am married to the legendary, Michelle Smith, who is a Physical Education Teacher extraordinaire, a wicked ping pong player, the Vince Lombardi of High School Volleyball Coaches, and an absolutely phenomenal mom to our daughters, Acadia and Juniper. 

Why Via Christi?  I first heard whispers of Via Christi as a 3rd year medical student from a few faculty at my school, and my friend Ryan Bures. It was this mythical place where in 3 years you could train to be a truly full spectrum doc, battle tested and ready to care for whomever in whatever situation. I was obviously intrigued and when I looked into the program, I found that the rumors were true! Not only were residents receiving an unparalleled training, but alumni from the program were putting these skills into practice in rural and urban communities around the country and across the globe. While all of these were huge pros, I ultimately decided to rank VCFM #1 because of the incredible community established between residents, faculty, and their families. I was confident that my family and I would be entering into a community that would love and support us through the undulations of residency training. I was also inspired and drawn to how genuine and humble the residents were and how so many of them were practicing what they preached by faith in their communities and on the wards. 

Passions/Hobbies:  I find particular enjoyment in the intricacies of seasoning, maintaining, and perfecting cooking with a cast iron skillet. When we got married, Michelle and I made a goal to make it to at least one National Park a year. So far our favorites are Acadia and Sequoia! An ever growing passion of mine is the lifelong pursuit of exploring the Bible and witnessing its ability to transform lives, like it did mine! 

Favorite Books:  The Bible, The Screwtape Letters, Crazy Love, Mountains Beyond Mountains, and The Food Lab

Favorite Podcasts:  Bible Project, Pass The Mic, Exploring My Strange Bible

Post-residency plan:  Possibly head back to the Dairy State and practice full spectrum Family Medicine. I do have budding interests in Palliative care and Addiction Medicine, so wouldn't rule out further training in those areas.

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Gabe Stewart

Hometown:  Belle Plaine, KS
Undergraduate:  Newman University
Medical School:  University of Kansas - Wichita

Bio:  I grew up in the small town of Belle Plaine, KS with my older brother and parents. Both of my parents were educators in the community and always emphasized the importance of taking my education seriously. I have always had many career interests so sifting through these throughout high school was a difficult process. However, upon shadowing a local family physician in Wellington, KS I knew that a career in family medicine would ultimately be where I would find the most fulfillment. Throughout undergrad, I continued to pursue other interests and began Djing weddings and other events in my free time. After graduating college a semester early I obtained my commercial driver's license and drove a semi for the local Budweiser distributor here in Wichita. Prior to starting medical school, I married my saint of a wife Kayla. If there is one thing I have learned from each of these experiences it is that medicine is my true calling and I feel the most purpose by working toward becoming the best person, physician and husband that I can be. My current pursuit is learning to be the best family doc I can be from an amazing group of faculty physicians and co-residents. During my free time I am also working on finishing up training for my private pilot's license.

Why Via Christi?  I chose Via Christi after interviewing all throughout the Midwest at numerous great family medicine programs. With this, I saw many programs that prepared their residents well for whatever they chose to do. Ultimately, for me it came down to where I felt I would thrive the most. This was an easy decision once I looked at programs in this way. Via Christi simply has an amazing culture of supporting one another academically, personally, and spiritually. Another thing that helped me to decide on Via Christi was by talking to family docs that I worked with throughout medical school. I asked several of these role models where they trained and their thoughts on the program. In many circumstances I found that individuals I really looked up to either trained at Via Christi or had great things to say about the program.

Passions/Hobbies:  Spending time with family, going to the lake, flying, riding motorcycles, working on cars and house projects.

Favorite Quote:  “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”   – Muhammad Ali

Post Residency Plan?  I plan to work in a rural community here in Kansas. I hope to do full-scope family medicine including surgical obstetrics and scopes.

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Grace Strella

Hometown:  McPherson, KS
Undergraduate:  Kansas State University (B.A. in Psychology)
Medical School:  University of Kansas - Wichita

Bio:  I grew up in the town of McPherson, KS with a population of 13,000. I attended K-State with plans originally to be an art therapist for adolescents. I did one semester of college as a double major in painting and psychology before my psych advisor asked me if I had ever considered a different path towards psychiatry. I took my first couple of science classes (yuck) and decided that I wasn’t too bad at it, and that maybe I could help more people by getting an MD. During my sophomore year of undergrad I was accepted into the Scholars in Rural Health program at KU-SOM. During this program I shadowed my hometown family doctor for a total of 200 hours, and decided that Primary Care was where I belonged. I realized that I could help patients with their mental health, as well as treat their diabetes, HTN, etc, and wouldn’t be limited by a specialty.

More about my home life:  My husband and I met in the McPherson High School jazz band, where he played drums and I played keyboard. He moved to FL later in HS and ended up moving back to KS to go to Wichita State University as I was finishing up at K-State. We got married between my first and second years of med school. He is in his final year of Law School at KU this year.  We live in Bel Aire, KS and have two German Shepherds named Daisy and Rosie, and two orange cats named Cooper and Toby.

Other fun facts:  I was in the K-State Marching Band for 4 years on the color guard, and I also played Clarinet in the basketball pep band. I love to play video games like Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley in my free time. I also like to craft, crochet blankets, acrylic paint, and do “diamond art.” I spend most of my free time just hanging out at home with my husband and our pets, watching YouTube.  We also recently started catfishing a year ago, and we love to go camping/fishing at local lakes around Central Kansas. 

Why Via Christi?  I honestly chose Via Christi as my number one choice of residency because of the residents and attendings that I worked with during medical school and specifically during my Sub-I. When I was thinking about choosing a program, I honestly couldn’t imagine not getting a chance to work with some of the kindest, most genuine and intelligent people I had ever met. I also wanted to go to a program that would push me and force me out of my comfort zone. I think that this program is OB and inpatient medicine heavy for a reason, and that is to send out competent, confident docs who could practice in any setting. It was important to me to get as much knowledge as possible before going out to rural Kansas, and I am confident that this program will prepare me for whatever I face in the future. 

Favorite Podcasts:  I love listening to true crime podcasts like Crime Junkie and Sword and Scale 

Favorite Shows:  Way too many true crime documentaries on Netflix.

Post Residency Plan?  My goal is to work at a privately owned clinic with a couple other docs somewhere in rural Central Kansas. I love geriatric medicine as well and would love to be the medical director of a nursing home or two.

 

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Blake Stucky

Hometown:  Garden City, KS
Undergraduate:  Friends University
Medical School:  University of Kansas - Wichita

Bio:  I met my wife Brooke at Friends University. We have been married since 2015.  We have 1 daughter, Navy, who is now 16 months old. We also have a Golden Retriever named Hazel. I grew up in Garden City, KS and have 3 older brothers. My 3 brothers and my sister in law all graduated from Via Christi and they all now practice family medicine back in Garden City. My wife works part time as a school psychologist in Derby, KS and gets to spend her other time with our daughter at home.

Why Via Christi?  The two things that attracted me to via Christi the most was the quality of the education and the quality of the individuals that make up the program. I had the unique experience of getting to watch my 3 older brothers and my sister-in-law all graduate from Via Christi. I have seen how well they were prepared for life after residency. I know that when I graduate, I will be beyond equipped with the knowledge and tools I need to provide quality full scope care to all my future patients.

As a former medical student and now resident I have always been blown away by the humility and clinical intelligence of the residents and faculty at Via Christi. The people I get to work with on a daily basis are examples of the type of physician, clinician, husband, father, and friend that I strive to be. I am blessed to have the opportunity to train alongside and learn from such outstanding people.

Passions/Hobbies:  I mostly enjoy spending time in the outdoors, especially in Colorado. I like to go Jeeping, dirt biking, hiking, and camping. I also enjoy running and working out. My wife and I really enjoy watching Chiefs games on Sundays after Church. I enjoy coffee and especially love playing with Navy.

Books:  Hatchet, Atomic Habits, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Meaning of Marriage, The Reason for God

Podcasts:  Bobby Bones Show, Joe Rogan, White Coat Investor, Gospel In Life (Tim Keller)

YouTube:  Demolition Ranch/Off the Ranch, Mike Patey, Smarter Every Day, Dude Perfect

 

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Garrett Walker

Hometown:  Trinity, Texas
Undergraduate:  Sam Houston State University
Medical School:  Texas Tech University

Bio:  I was born in Northern Missouri but moved to Texas when I was very little and grew up in a small East Texas town.  I had no interest in becoming a doctor until I injured my shoulder while playing baseball in junior college.  I decided to switch majors and pursue medical school after my injury and working with the Orthopedic/Sports Medicine doctors.  I worked as a scribe in a primary care clinic for Dr. Prihoda who is an amazing Family Medicine physician.  I loved the continuity of care as well as the diverse patient population.  I saw how rewarding it was to be there for your patients and their families, and I realized that Family Medicine would help me become the best doctor possible.  Family Medicine also allows for opportunities in Sports Medicine which is my other passion/goal in my medical training.  

Why Via Christi?  There are so many different reasons I chose Via Christi that it would be hard to list them all.  I interviewed at Via Christi relatively early in the interview season.  It was immediately a top choice for me, but I still had other top programs that I thought would be above Via Christi in the end.  When making my rank list, I found myself always comparing programs to Via Christi.  The training here is top notch in all aspects of Family Medicine as well as having a Sports Med Fellowship.  I was also blown away by how welcoming the program is and how everyone felt like a big family.  I decided on Via Christi as my top choice for residency because I knew I would get the training to make me a great family doc, and it had the opportunities I wanted.  Also, I knew that my time inside or outside of the hospital would be enjoyable because of the people I’d be spending that time with.

Passions and Hobbies:   Baseball/Football (Go Royals/Chiefs!), Recreational sports like ultimate frisbee, Hiking/outdoors, and dogs.

Favorite Books:  Not a huge book reader, but I like High Heat by Carl Deuker and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

Favorite Shows/Movies:  Scrubs, Parks and Rec, A Knight’s Tale, Bull Durham.

Favorite Music:  Classic Rock!!  Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, Queen, Creedence Clearwater Revival, etc.

Post Residency Plan?  It's hard to plan for the future but right now I plan on pursuing a Sports Medicine Fellowship.  After that, I imagine myself doing full-scope primary care as well as Sports Medicine (either a Sports clinic or team doctor for a local high school).

 

 

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Garrett Westman

Hometown:  Gurley, Nebraska
Undergraduate:  Chadron State College
Medical School:  University of Nebraska

Bio:  I grew up outside of a small town in western Nebraska that had a population of 200. I went to a small consolidated school with only 53 students in the entire high school. I met my wife, Kelsey, in high school and we got married shortly after graduating. We currently have 3 children, 2 girls and 1 boy. The older two we are currently fostering and will be soon adopting, Eileen (6 yrs) and Phoenix (2 years). Our son Declen is 1 year old. My Mom teaches middle school science and my dad is a mail carrier. I have three brothers, 2 older and 1 younger. I am and always will be a Husker fan. GO BIG RED!

Why Via Christi?  I initially chose Via Christi after searching for midwest family medicine programs with obstetrics. The program also checked a box of providing training for rural practice. The night before my interviews I looked through the Bio pages of the residents. I was encouraged by how many were involved in helping people outside of medicine and had a strong faith base. Interviewing only strengthened what I saw in the Bios. Everyone I met in the program was nice, helpful and seemed to genuinely care. I did not do a Sub-I at Via Christi or had I ever been to Kansas before, but on my drive home after the interview I called my wife and told her this is the place we needed to go.


Passions and Hobbies:  Mostly spending time with my family, reading, board games, and little home improvement projects around the house.

Post Residency Plan?   I plan to go back to western Nebraska and practice in a rural area with OB and C sections. Probably buy a 15 seater Ford Transit for all of our future children.

 

 

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