Brett Robbins, MD
Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
Vice Chair for Education, Department of
I am pleased to share this inaugural edition of the URMC Internal Medicine Residency Alumni Newsletter with you. We are creating and sending this regularly to help you stay connected with our programs, their successes, and with each other. The Department of Medicine at the University of Rochester has sponsored three incredibly successful residency programs in internal medicine since its inception in 1926. These are the Internal Medicine Residency Program, the Associated Hospitals Program/Primary Care Program in Internal Medicine, and the Combined Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Program. We are hopeful this regular newsletter will lead up to an in-person reunion for all three programs in the next few years, as we celebrate our 100th residency class in 2026.
The sociologist and author Kathryn Hunter shadowed internal medicine residents at Strong Memorial Hospital in the early 1990s. She recorded her observations in her 1993 book Doctors’ Stories. In her book, she summarizes that internists are NOT primarily scientists. We are primarily storytellers. We gather stories. We synthesize and make sense of stories. We relay stories to each other in print and orally. This inaugural newsletter will tell the stories of two of our three Department of Medicine residency training programs through the stories of those who took part in creating and living them, Dr. Rudy Napodano and Dr. Barbara Schuster. In a subsequent newletter, Dr. Donald Bordley will assist in telling the story of the Internal Medicine program.
Our Departmental educational goal is to continue to be a nationally eminent training program. We continue to anchor in academic excellence, bedside teaching, professionalism, advanced communication skills and a uniquely collegial supportive and psychologically safe learning environment. We have developed our programs to embrace leadership, high quality scholarly endeavors, interprofessional teamwork, diversity, inclusion and equity. A few high level points of history follow below. Please browse THE STORIES of Drs. Napodano and Schuster, and please feel free to browse our current residency websites.
Internal Medicine Residency Program Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program
The University of Rochester appointed the first chair of Medicine, Dr. William McCann in 1923. He began work officially January 1, 1925 on the ground level of Strong Memorial Hospital. Along with Miss Lucille Savage, he organized the department and chemical laboratory. Dr. McCann selected Dr. Lawrence A. Kohn as the first internal medicine resident in 1925. After his arrival from Johns Hopkins, Dr. Kohn and Dr. McCann drafted policies and procedures, creating the organization of the Department of Medicine and Internal Medicine Residency Program. Dr. Kohn recruited Dr. Bernard Rogowski and Dr. James I. Knott and these three constituted the first internal medicine resident staff when Strong Memorial Hospital opened on January 4, 1926. In July 1926, five medical interns joined the service (photo) officially launching the first complete residency class, including the first woman resident, Dr. Bettina Warburg.
L-R, Back: Dr. Thomas M. Palmer; Dr. Lawrence A. Kohn; Dr. Lemuel W. Diggs; Dr. David M. Rioch; Dr. Bettina Warburg; Dr. Morgan J. Rhees; Dr. Bernhard A Rogowski; Dr. Walter W. Fray.
L-R, Front: Dr. John Staneslow; Dr. Richard Lyman; Dr. William S. McCann, Professor; Dr. Eric Kent Carke; Dr. Stafford L. Warren; Dr. Leverett S. Woodworth
Timeline: Our Program through the Years
Save the date: 2026 for in-person reunion
Contact Updates and Class Notes
Have you had a change in address? Do you have good news to share with your fellow alumni in a future edition of the newsletter? Let us know through one of the links below.
Update your Contact Information Share a Story or Photo
Rudolph J. Napodano, MD
Professor Emeritus, Department of Medicine
“During my career as director of the Associated Hospitals Program-Primary Care Program in Internal Medicine, I found the maturation of all my interests in teaching and working with residents. Residents often teach faculty more than faculty teach residents. They keep us up to date with the cutting edge of our discipline. Teaching was very rewarding for me. As a primary care provider, when you try very hard to do the job correctly, you can prevent a patient’s serious illness from going undetected. We need faculty who have depth as well as breadth, who broaden out the differential at the time they are working directly with residents in a wide variety of clinical settings. Those in senior positions must be supportive of learners as they come through an intense educational environment. Residency is like a family. A mentor must be an effective teacher as well as a supportive person to all members of the program. At the time of my retirement, a fund was established by several of the graduates. Its purpose was to support a teaching role with residents by a physician in practice. My first direct contact with this fund was in 2016. Drs. Levy, Berliant and I met regarding options that might enhance it. Based on these discussions, my wife and I started the Rudolph and Carol Napodano Endowment fund to continue to support some of the goals previously established by the program’s graduates. I have always believed in supporting the education of medical students and residents and found this opportunity one way to accomplish that.”
Meet Dr. Napodano
Barbara L. Schuster, MD
'77 (MD), '80 (Res)
“The med-peds program is a part of me. I saw the value in starting a combined medicine and pediatrics residency at the University of Rochester because it’s an approach that opens all doors. Graduates of the UR program are fabulous doctors, taking care of both adults and children. These doctors develop a broad base of medical knowledge with the depth of both an internist and a pediatrician. The medical approach to the extremes of age, neonatology, children under two years, and frail elderly may present some specific challenges but the majority of medical care is more similar than different. When adolescents present with a systemic illness, their problems are more akin to adults, though their social, behavioral, and emotional skills are still developing from a childhood base. So, this combined program made sense for the education of a generalist physician practicing primary care in most communities or as a foundation for a subspecialty.
"I was very touched when my former residents started a resident award in my honor. Several years later, I took the initiative to endow the Schuster Residency Award to provide support for resident education. It was all about the education and leadership opportunities for the residents. I am incredibly pleased with how the med-peds program has turned out. It is challenging to feel comfortable and maintain competency in both internal medicine and pediatrics. You have to think broadly, integrating knowledge, human development, and clinical skills. It is what I believe is the best approach to excellent patient care.”
Meet Dr. Schuster