Class of 2015
Class of 2015 Mission Statement
"We the class of 2015 embrace the beauty of life in all of its stages, understanding the human condition requires flexibility and compassion. We pledge to provide quality patient centered care in the context of family and community. We are dedicated to improving local and global health through all endeavors."
Craig Betchart, MD
University of Rochester
I grew up in Concord, NH where I developed a love for skiing, hiking, biking, and swimming. I left New England and moved to Oberlin, OH where I went to college. During undergrad, I was involved in physical chemistry research using solid state NMR. I was also a varsity swimmer and golfer and played many club sports includingWater poloand UltimateFrisbee. After graduation I moved to New Jersey for two years where I was a medicinal chemist for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. I worked on synthesizing small molecules in the hopes of created new drugs to treat diseases like chronic pain and Alzheimer's disease. Although I enjoyed learning about the diseases and their treatments, I needed more human interaction and more impact in people's daily lives, so I decided to pursue medicine as a career and ended up in Rochester for medical school.
I love Rochester so much I decided to stay for residency! The city has a perfect balance between access to the outdoors while at the same time has great music, theaters and restaurants. The affordable real estate makes it even more attractive. I own my own home, and I got a dog while in medical school. I live right on the Erie Canal so I have easy access to the parks to walk my dog, jog, or ride my bike. I also chose Highland Family Medicine for residency because of the extremely strong faculty, the emphasis of teamwork and developing a medical home, extremely strong OB/GYN training, and because as a medical student I got to see first hand how happy the residents are here. After just 2 months of my internship, I have to say, I'm not disappointed. Please feel free to email me with any questions! Email Craig.
Christine A. Cameron, MD
Medical University of South Carolina
College of Medicine
“Live from Rubber City!” Christy grew up in Akron, Ohio where she lived for most of her life- ‘surviving’ an all-girls Catholic school education that gave her the skills necessary to venture down to college in the south- specifically the College of Charleston. During undergraduate and medical school she participated in research projects studying the immune system and its interactions with various cancers, including Burkitt’s lymphoma, glioblastoma, and several others, while also learning to be a barista, baby-sitter extraordinaire, and retail salesperson.
She then had the honor to pursue a career in medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina (its right down the street from the College of Charleston) which opened doors that Christy never thought possible; including a trip to India where she had the chance to observe Indian health care at a private hospital as well as at a leprosy clinic, learn some traditional Indian dance, and devour home-made chutneys with chapatti bread all to her little heart’s content. Her current interests include healthcare improvement (both quality, preventative, and economic), complementary and alternative medicine, and international health. She is extremely happy to be coming to the Rochester area with her fiancé, Dan and two cats: Mona and Tinkerbell.
Jessica L. Ferger, MD
State University of New York
Upstate Medical University
I was born in Olean, a small town in the southern tier of New York, my first exposure to small town rural life. I moved to Rochester when I was five years old. I grew up going to Hilton schools, and then went to University at Buffalo, a family tradition, for undergrad. I originally started off in political science and law, and then got sucked into the sciences after my first biology course. I ended up majoring in biomedical science and set my sights on medicine. I went across the I-90 to Syracuse for medical school, where I decided on Family Medicine after my clerkship there with a University of Rochester family medicine graduate Dr. Bailey. I am interested in sports medicine, political health advocacy, and rural medicine. I am extremely excited to be returning home for residency, being close to family and friends. I love the Bills, Sabres and Red Sox. I also enjoy a good night of bar trivia, Xbox, baking, and trying new and challenging fitness programs. I am a very passionate animal lover, and have a lab Luna, who I bring with me everywhere I can. I love doing almost anything outdoors, and hope to expand that interest into wilderness medicine. I am a strong believer in life balance; work hard, play hard and make a difference!
Laura E. Gift, DO
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
A Rochester area native, I grew up in Honeoye Falls New York, on the edge of Monroe County and attended Honeoye-Falls Lima central schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. From Honeoye Falls I went to Rochester proper, where I attended the University of Rochester. There I majored in Psychology, minored in Biology, and was active on campus including playing flute in the Wind Symphony and taking lessons at the Eastman school of Music. I worked for a year between undergrad and medical school, both as a medical assistant in a busy family practice and as a tutor for city school students. Medical school took me to Erie PA, to attend the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. There I met my husband Justin Weisenberger, a fellow LECOM graduate and avid fisherman from Columbus Ohio. While I will miss Presque Isle state park and El Canelo, our favorite Mexican restaurant, I am happy to be getting back to Rochester for my residency training. I’m excited about the psychosocial curriculum as well as becoming a home owner, and as time allows, getting back into music.
Jean M. Hamlin, MD
Dartmouth Medical School
I come from a small town in the Maine woods, and went to both college and medical school at Dartmouth in Hanover, NH. I spent a year prior to medical school doing clinical research at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. I have enjoyed my time in the wilderness, but I am also looking forward to my residency in the city of Rochester! I am in the National Health Service Corps, and will work in an underserved area following residency. In my spare time, I like to read, play sports, and go to the theater. I am looking forward to meeting you!
Matthew Heckman, MD, PhD
Pennsylvania State University
College of Medicine
Raised on a multi-generational family farm in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains near Corning, NY, I market myself as an Organic and Local product (at a premium price of course). Prior to medical school I attended the University of Rochester and received a PhD in Biomedical Engineering studying the circadian clock and transcriptional regulation of adipogenesis. I am currently interested in how primary care systems perform and inform research, specifically with regard to efficacy of available and next-generation therapies. My wife Bethany and I were married while living in Rochester, our four children were born in Rochester area communities, #3 and #4 were even born at Highland Hospital! We left our adopted home for medical school at Penn State, Hershey, primarily in preparation to return in service to our neighbors in the Twin Tiers of New York and Pennsylvania. My interest in obstetrics has taken me to Zambia with the non-profit Tiny People Matter to equip and train midwives and traditional birth attendants in basic neonatal resuscitation, and to help develop a cellular/texting based system to track outcomes. Outside of science and medicine I enjoy watching baseball, Little League to Major League. Win or lose, I’m a HUGE fan of the Boston Red Sox.
Gerrit W. Heetderks, MD
Case Western Reserve University
School of Medicine
After being born right in Rochester, I grew up in the suburb of Webster. Since then I have lived in a few different areas of the country. I initially pursued a degree in Biology at Hope College in Holland Michigan. After graduation I lived in Houston for a couple of years, involved in a volunteering opportunity then working in biochemistry research at Baylor College of Medicine. From there I accepted another appointment in a molecular biology lab in Ithaca, NY. After being bitten by the 'medicine 'bug' while there, I matriculated into Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. During my time there, it became clear that I was a family physician. While searching out the best possible place to undertake this training, it became obvious that UR/Highland had a lot to offer.
I am thrilled to be coming full circle and working in the area that I remember so fondly from my youth. I am bringing back with me: my wonderful spouse Sandra, years of exciting experiences, and a great medical education. In addition to learning more about the practice of medicine, I hope to have a great time here cooking great meals with Wegmans ingredients, eating Dinosaur BBQ, bicycling, and hiking.
Karolina Lis , MD
Jagiellonian University Medical College
I grew up in beautiful Vancouver, Canada where I was spoiled with the scenic backdrop of ocean, mountains and old-growth forest. I spent most of my childhood in the west coast outdoors hiking, skiing and sailing with my mother, father and younger sister. In 2005 I completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of British Columbia, after which my passion for travel and languages led me around the world on a two-year trek. It was during my travels that I was inspired to pursue medicine with a particular interest in global and women's health. I decided to get in touch with my Polish heritage while studying medicine at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. During my studies I attended the University of Rochester as a visiting student, where I completed various electives including one in rural Family Medicine. The people in this great city were very warm and welcoming and it immediately felt like a home. Living in Europe for the last four years has been an adventure, but I’m very excited to come back to Rochester for my Family Medicine training and to be part of such a strong community. I have started my Rochester chapter as a newlywed with my husband, Karol, who is a pediatric intern at Strong. We are looking forward to becoming parents to a beautiful new dog (...soon), shopping trips to Wegmans and to a fun three years with new friends!"
Rachel E. Long, DO
Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine
Originally from northern Indiana, I grew up the daughter of a Christmas Tree farmer and an ER physician, and the youngest of a family who loved to travel. We routinely spent 3-4 weeks a summer camping throughout the US, and as teenagers a week or two on service trips each year. When I was 10 my mother began traveling to Nicaragua routinely to serve as part of a medical delegation. I carried my family's love of travel and being outdoors into college where I majored in Environmental Studies and Peace Studies - a multidisciplinary study of political science, international relations, social movements, conflict resolution, and philosophy. In pursuit of these majors I studied for a month in Costa Rica at the United Nations University for Peace, a year in Quito, Ecuador, and worked for a summer with Christian Peacemakers Teams - an ecumenical international peace building organization in Colombia. After finishing college I completed a massage therapy program in Fort Collins, Co while serving as a nanny (of 6!) to family friends. It was a combination of these experiences and the persistent desire to serve more effectively that brought me back to medicine. I continue to love to travel – to experience new cultures, lose myself in the great outdoors, or just visit old friends, and continue to work with CPT. In my day-to-day free time I enjoy running, kayaking, cooking, knitting, story telling, game nights, and dancing – especially contra and salsa!
Colleen V. Loo-Gross, MD, MPH
University of Kansas School of Medicine
Colleen is a native of Wichita, KS, though her parents are immigrants from different countries – a fact which she credits for inspiring her love for travel. After earning degrees in Chemical Science and Biochemistry at Kansas State University (as well as meeting her husband, now a clinical pharmacist), she went on to complete the MD/MPH program at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. During medical school, she discovered a passion for the care of underserved populations, both domestically and internationally. Her professional interests include health disparities, communication in health care settings, and cross-cultural issues and cultural competency. She hopes to incorporate both global health and academic medicine into her future career. Thus far, she has had the opportunity to participate in medical experiences in Haiti, Belize, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Paraguay. Outside of medicine, she enjoys spending any free time shortening what seems to be a perpetually growing reading list, nurturing her creative side through crafts or the fine arts, and finding fun ways to stay physically active. She and her husband are thrilled to be moving to Rochester and are looking forward to exploring all that the area has to offer.
Nicole C. Vavrina, DO
New York College of Osteopathic Medicine
of NY Institute of Technology
Born and raised in Pittsford, a small suburb of Rochester, I spent my younger years exploring this wonderful city that I’ve come to know and love. As both my husband and I are Rochester natives we couldn’t be happier to be returning home to complete the last leg of my medical education and lay down roots for the road ahead! After completing high school at Pittsford Sutherland, I decided to spread my wings, and make way for a warmer climate in College Park Maryland. At the University of Maryland, as a die-hard Terp, I obtained my bachelor of science in psychology and completed a pre-medicine track, all while almost never missing a Terrapin game. After graduation I decided to return home for a year in which I was involved in various community service and outreach programs; one in particular was a trip to New Orleans with my husband, sister, and several guidance counselors from the Rochester area, to help rebuild parts of the lower 9th ward that were hit hardest by hurricane Katrina. I then attended medical school at New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in Long Island, NY. Finishing most of my clinical clerkships in the NYC area and spending four more years away from Rochester, both my husband and I are elated to be coming back to join both our families and the Highland family medicine team! As Rochester is the place I’ve always called home, I have a special tie to the area, and therefore plan to be greatly invested in the local community throughout both my residency and future career. Outside of work, I can’t wait to get back to the local parks and lakes, cook, paint, and spend as much time with family and friends as possible.