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Inspirational Physicians

The AMA-WPS Inspirational Physicians (formerly the Physician Mentor Recognition Program), provides an opportunity for physicians to express appreciation to the special men and women who have offered their time, wisdom and support throughout their professional journeys.

AMA-WPS members are invited to tell us about a professional colleague or teacher who has served a special role in your life and career. The individual may have inspired you to greater heights, steered you into a specialty you love, helped you find balance in life and work, guided you through your professional society, challenged you to surprise yourself, or unknowingly been a role model for you and others.

A special presentation highlighting the 2014 Inspirational Physician Honorees is now available.

2014's Inspirational Physician honorees include:

Honoree: Maura Brennan, MD

Maura Brennan, MD"Dr. Brennan is an exceptional clinician, teacher and mentor. She is passionate about residents' education and welfare. Despite her intensely filled schedule, she is always happy to help me out in personal and career development. Without her, I would not have achieved what I have today. She serves as a role model to me, and I will constantly remind myself how dedicated she is to medicine throughout my life." —Kah Poh Loh, MD

Nominated by Kah Poh Loh, MD

Honoree: Paul Brown, MD

Paul Brown, MD"Dr. Brown served as my mentor during my dedicated research year at MD Anderson, but he is much more than my mentor—he is my role model.

When I started my year of research, I had no prior experience, but Dr. Brown took me under his wing and changed my life forever.  With his help, I learned to write abstracts, present at conferences, deliver oral presentation and submit my first manuscript. In total, my research year resulted in first authorship on six manuscripts, co-authorship on two manuscripts, and five oral presentations.  Dr. Brown didn't just teach me; he changed my life!  He motivated and pushed me to new heights and helped me realize that academic medicine is my calling. 

Dr. Brown genuinely cares for all his students, residents and patients; he is inspirational!" —Benjamin Farnia, medical student

Nominated by Benjamin Farnia (Medical Student)

Honoree: Duane Cady, MD

Duane Cady, MD"Duane was a wonderful mentor who introduced me to organized medicine. When he was president of our county medical society, he first put me on his specialty board. Then I became an officer and followed in his footsteps to become president. From there, he went to Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY), and I followed again. He went on to become chairman of the AMA Board of Trustees while I became the first female chairman of the MSSNY Board of Trustees." —Patricia A. Randall, MD

Nominated by Patricia A. Randall, MD

Honoree: Alice Coombs, MD

Alice Coombs, MD"Dr. Coombs has been an amazing mentor, friend and driving force in my life. I first met her eight years ago as a medical student, and she encouraged me to become involved in the AMA. Since then, she has shared in my triumphs and tribulations and is always there to steer me in the right direction. Not only has she mentored me, but I know that she has been as close and vested in many others in her personal life and within the AMA. I am eternally grateful to have her as a surrogate mother." —Busayo Obayan, MD

Nominated by Busayo Obayan, MD

Honoree: Ricardo Correa, MD

Ricardo Correa, MD"Ricardo has been an inspiration for me and many other IMGs. We worked together as residents, and he was always trying to teach everybody, including co-residents, interns and medical students. I have never seen a person who loves teaching as much as him. He started many projects in our program including an evidence-based medicine teaching session and a resident scientific journal. He also helps international medical graduates in their journey of coming to the United States for residency. He is a person who gives 100 percent of his time to others."—Sheyla Zelaya, MD

Nominated by Sheyla Zelaya, MD

Honoree: Gayatri Devi, MD

Gayatri Devi, MD"Dr. Devi is a past president of the American Medical Women's Association, and she was a bold and fierce leader who has taken the organization in a new direction. Her determination to be more inclusive of the student group and to make unpopular but important decisions helped to create a stronger organization. She also wrote a book and continues to see patients and mentor new physicians." —Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD

Nominated by Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD

Honoree: Michael Devlin, MD

Michael Devlin, MD"Dr. Devlin's compassion and sensitivity can be seen in everything that he does, from a smile during lecture to taking time out to address students' concerns about curricular activities. Every week Dr. Devlin meets with a group of students to discuss topics ranging from patient communication to health care delivery to health promotion. As one first-year medical student recalls, Dr. Devlin doesn't shy away from getting emotional about a topic or sharing his personal experiences with us when he is a discussion leader. As a result, students truly feel comfortable joining the discussion and sharing their own experiences and opinions." —Ravi J. Shah, MD

Nominated by Ravi J. Shah (Medical Student)

Honoree: Rachel Finck, MD

"Dr. Finck is our program director and is very involved with helping and guiding us residents to strike balance between work-life and improving communications between resident and faculty members. I feel very fortunate to have a supportive program director like Dr. Finck. I am inspired to go into academia and be involved in teaching in the future because of her role as a teacher/mentor in our lives." —Christina Wei, MD

Nominated by Christina Wei, MD

Honoree: Joslyn Fisher, MD, MPH, FACP

Joslyn Fisher, MD, MPH, FACP"Dr. Fisher is one of the rare people who is able to make you believe you can become the person you want to be. She has a deep sense of caring and duty that is evident in the meaningful relationships she fosters not only with students, but with her patients and colleagues as well. Few people contribute as much as Dr. Fisher does; she is a gift to the communities that she is a part of."—Rachel Solnick, medical student

Nominated by Rachel Solnick (Medical Student)

Honoree: Latha Ganti, MD, MS, MBA, FACEP

Latha Ganti, MD, MS, MBA, FACEP"Dr. Ganti is the reason I am in academic emergency medicine. As a student I had the opportunity to do research in her lab and discover the world of clinical and translational science—something I never thought I'd be interested in. The most remarkable thing about her is that despite her accomplishments, she manages to do all the daily things of motherhood and be active in organized medicine. There is no question that Dr. Ganti has inspired scores of women to pursue academic careers because of this very ability to balance powerful leadership roles with raising a family. She is my role model and inspiration!"—Ravneet Mann Dhillon, MD

Nominated by Ravneet Mann Dhillon, MD

Honoree: Jennifer K. Green, MD

Jennifer K. Green, MD"Jennifer Green has been a constant inspiration in my life since we met nearly four years ago. She has a deep seated passion for the practice of medicine, that is contagious. She lives out through her actions a life of service: to patients, to the next generation of physicians, and to her colleagues."—Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH 

Nominated by Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH

Honoree: Neil Green, MD

Neil Green, MD"In orthopaedics, a traditionally male-dominated field, he always made me feel that I was on equal footing.  The quality of your work was what mattered. He taught me lessons that have carried over and been helpful in other parts of my life: speak only if you have something meaningful to say, have all of your data organized and vetted before making any decisions, and last but not least, keep it brief. I often think of Dr. Green and his influences on my daily work. I was very privileged to have the opportunity to train under him and will be forever grateful." —Laura Meyers, MD

Nominated by Laura Meyers, MD

Honoree: Stephen B. Hanauer, MD

Stephen B. Hanauer, MD"Dr. Hanauer hired me more than 25 years ago as his research assistant, and since then has never wavered in his confidence that I could achieve whatever goals I set my mind to. He wrote letters of recommendation for my master's degree application as well as for medical school, residency and fellowship. Under his mentorship I flourished as a clinician and clinical scientist, and he afforded me opportunities to work with pharmaceutical companies to serve as consultant and speaker. He has supported my activities at a national level, and now I will serve under him as secretary for his year of presidency of the American College of Gastroenterology."—Sunanda Kane, MD

Nominated by Sunanda Kane, MD

Honoree: Shahram Javdanfar, MD

"Dr. Javdanfar is a role model for medical students and physicians. He inspires and mentors those in training. He is a very special doctor who will inspire and guide you to reach your highest potential. Dr. Shahram Javdanfar is a skilled physician who is truly inspirational. He is a great doctor who has inspired me to grow and achieve great things."—Joseph Javdan, DO

Nominated by Joseph Javdan, DO

Honoree: Tipsuda Junsanto-Bahri, MD

Tipsuda Junsanto-Bahri, MD"As you well know, medical school is an arduous process during which even the most dedicated student can falter. I would like to nominate Dr. Bahri for one major reason: She never lets us falter. She greets everyone with a wide smile and a zest for the profession that makes everyone want to do better and strive higher. She has dedicated countless hours to supporting her students. She is an inspiration to our entire school, but she is also a personal inspiration to me because she is absolutely the type of physician and mentor I hope to be one day."—Clover Youn, medical student

Nominated by Jessica Kim, Hae Lee, Shoji Samson, Berthold Shin, Andrew Valdez, Clover Youn, Rafi Yusuf, Yifan Li, Arjola Cosper, Luis Perez, Bethlehem, Matthew Rosner, Olga Jacques, Catrina LeBlanc, Rivkah Raza (Medical Students)

Honoree: Neil Kaplowitz MD

Neil Kaplowitz MD"It takes a foreign medical graduate 10 times more effort to achieve in medicine. Even when you are ready to put in that much effort, the most important [thing to have] is someone who inspires you and opens the door for you. Dr. Kaplowitz is the one who has changed my life career by introducing me to medicine, gastroenterology and transplant hepatology. He inspires me to research, not just limit myself to patient care. He has provided opportunities for me to work on some research topics and co-author two important reviews. I am working toward becoming an academic clinician. I have to say, without Dr. Kaplowitz, I would not have come this far."—Liyun Yuan, medical student

Nominated by Liyun Yuan, medical student

Honoree: Anna Lok, MD

Anna Lok, MD"Dr. Lok has been an accomplished physician investigator and educator for more than three decades and has contributed enormously to the field of viral hepatitis and hepatology. She gives constructive and candid advice, something I have found so hard to obtain. Medical and academic professional life is difficult for anyone but especially for women who tend to have many other family responsibilities, and it is just great to have people like Dr. Lok who not only serve as an inspiration, but also provide actual advice and practice guidance for women professionals like myself."—Mindie Nguyen, MD

Nominated by Mindie Nguyen, MD

Honoree: Cara Lye, MD

Cara Lye, MD"Dr. Lye was an exceptional attending on my pediatrics clerkship. She paid special attention to the students and their contributions, making us feel like part of the team. She is enthusiastic about mentorship and helping students along in their medical training. She was my only letter of recommendation writer who took time out of her schedule to meet with me personally, and that meant a lot to me."—Melissa Wallace, MD

Nominated by Melissa Wallace, MD

Honoree: Claudia Lyon, DO

Claudia Lyon, DO"Dr. Lyon is a person who puts me or other trainees on her shoulders to achieve what we dream of … very grateful to have her in my life."—Yanqui Zhao, MD

Nominated by Yanqui Zhao, MD

Honoree: Leah S. McCormack, MD

Leah S. McCormack, MD"Dr. McCormack has been a dedicated mentor and supporter of young physicians. She goes out of her way to help nurture and develop leadership in others. She has been a vocal advocate for the preservation of private practice, and has been very attentive in supporting private practice as a viable option for young physicians. She is most deserving of recognition for all her efforts."—Maya Babu, MD

Nominated by Maya Babu, MD

Honoree: Kathleen Morrell, MD

Kathleen Morrell, MD"Dr. Kathleen Morrell is an inspirational physician. She has contributed significantly to my medical education, particularly helping me develop the skills and confidence I'll need to thrive as an obstetrician and gynecologist. Not only is she an outstanding medical educator, always pushing students to advance their clinical skillset, but she is a remarkable champion for women's health. Her advocacy and commitment to ensuring women can access safe family planning services is admirable. I am inspired by Dr. Morrell's practice of medicine and would trust her as my own physician."—Carolyn Payne, medical student

Nominated by Carolyn Payne (Medical Student)

Honoree: Baharak Moshiree, MD, MS

Baharak Moshiree, MD, MS"She made sure to always take the time before and after seeing patients to explore my interests in each case as well as answer my questions, even on her busiest and most stressful days. Her passion for her work, research and patients is always present, and I feel very lucky to have been able to work alongside such a driven leader. Dr. Moshiree is an exceptional person and physician."—Natalie Cain, MD

Nominated by Shamaila Waseem, MD, Maria Samuel, MD, Natalie Cain, MD

Honoree: Karin Muraszko, MD

Karin Muraszko, MD"Karin is currently the first and only female chairperson in neurosurgery in the United States. She has devoted herself to the neurosurgical field providing outstanding service to her pediatric patients and their families, providing national leadership and serving as a role model to women in neurosurgery. As the mother of two adopted children, she inspires us by finding work/life balance and providing service to the community. Dr. Muraszko should be recognized as a truly inspirational woman."—Aruna Ganju, MD

Nominated by Aruna Ganju

Honoree: Julieana Nichols MD, MPH

Julieana Nichols MD, MPH "Dr. Nichols has been an excellent and reliable mentor to me for almost four years. She has been a wonderful source of encouragement in my academic and personal life, inspiring me not only to pursue my goals in medicine but also reminding me not to neglect my own self-care in this process. She has made herself available to me whenever I have had questions about medical school, residency or other projects I wanted to pursue. She is dedicated to trainee education through mentorship, program development and direct teaching. Furthermore, she is an excellent role model, constantly demonstrating respect for other physicians and patients and considering how she can be a good team player and meet her patients' needs."—Tiana Won, MD

Nominated by Tiana Won, MD

Honoree: Eva Ritvo, MD

Eva Ritvo, MD"I met Dr. Ritvo during a particularly difficult period in my training. I had just begun my PGY-3 year, and was suffering from a lack of direction in my life and career. I was in great need of a mentor, a strong and intelligent woman whom I could relate to and who could also inspire me. Dr. Eva Ritvo was exactly such a person. From career planning to personal advice, she was always there for me and believed in me. Because of her constant support and encouragement, I have grown into the resourceful and determined professional woman I am today."—Dalia Balsamo, MD

Nominated by Dalia Balsamo, MD

Honoree: Martha Rolli, MD

Martha Rolli, MD"Molli Rolli, MD, is a physician leader who has inspired countless numbers of young women physicians and medical students to reach for the stars. She is the board chair of the Wisconsin Medical Society, and she brings a calm, measured, pragmatic approach to that position. She makes everyone feel as if their voice matters. She has been a role model and advisor for me on countless occasions for many years running. I am fortunate to know her." —Claudia Reardon, MD

Nominated by Claudia Reardon, MD

Honoree: Sarina Schrager, MD

Sarina Schrager, MD"Sarina is a caring physician who fights for her patients' rights and health. She seeks to understand their entire lives and is more than willing to advocate for them. As a mentor she demonstrates and encourages amazing work-life balance. She has been instrumental in introducing me to a wide variety of specialties and remains unbiased when discussing my career options. She is always willing to collaborate with colleagues to improve patient care and the health care system flow. I've never seen patients adore their physician as much as Sarina's adore her."—Lindsay Anderson, MD

Nominated by Lindsay Anderson (Medical Student)

Honoree: Carol Shields, MD

Carol Shields, MD"Dr. Carol Shields has been an inspiration to her many colleagues and students for decades. She is a world-renown ocular oncologist, international lecturer, author of many textbooks and more than a thousand articles. She is the beloved mother of seven children, a few of which are already headed into the medical profession."—Michael DellaVecchia, MD

Nominated by Michael DellaVecchia, MD

Honoree: Christina Surawicz, MD

Christina Surawicz, MD"Dr. Surawicz, as one of the first female gastroenterologists known nationally for her work on infectious colitis, was the first female president of the American College of Gastroenterology. She came to fellows conferences and small group sessions during the national meetings to encourage young fellows like myself to pursue academic careers and to actively participate in the activities of the college. She has always been humble and very accessible and helped me with important career-making decisions. With her support and help I am now in line for the presidency of the college but would have never been able to do it without her guidance and encouragement."—Sunanda Kane, MD

Nominated by Sunanda Kane, MD

Honoree: Tamara Thomas, MD

Tamara Thomas, MD"I credit Dr. Thomas' mentoring as the key factor for my development to become department chair. Her sound advice has been powerful. She has an innate ability to pull diverse viewpoints together for a common good. Her leadership provides ongoing faculty development, peer mentoring, skill-building and networking opportunities. She creates the vision and has the ability to see her vision through to completion. She has brought leadership and professional development initiatives to many physicians with outstanding results."—Kathleen J. Clem, MD

Nominated by Kathleen Clem, MD

Honoree: Shelly D. Timmons, MD, PhD, FACS, FAANS

Shelly D. Timmons, MD, PhD, FACS, FAANS"Shelly maintains an optimistic deposition even when dealing with the most difficult and complex political circumstances. I believe she is an inspirational physician because of her overall ability to help inspire a generation of young physicians in how to take care of patients, provide them with cutting edge therapy, and most importantly treating individuals with respect and dignity."—Karin Muraszko, MD

Nominated by Karin Muraszko, MD

Honoree: Jacques Van Dam, MD, PhD

Jacques Van Dam, MD, PhD"Not only is Dr. Van Dam an internationally recognized interventional endoscopist, he is a great role model. He is a fantastic mentor; you only need to look at any podium at all the national GI meetings; chances are that he has personally mentored or trained at least one speaker at each endoscopy session. He is a tireless advocate for fellows, giving them multiple research opportunities and the wealth of his endoscopic experience. He opened up the traditionally male-dominated field of advanced endoscopy, and I have been fortunate enough to be one of his fellows. He is my inspiration, and I am so lucky to have his unwavering support and guidance."—Linda Hou, MD

Nominated by Linda Hou, MD

Honoree: Julie Welch, MD

Julie Welch, MD"Dr. Welch holds many positions within the Indiana University School of Medicine, and regardless of the many demands on her time, she reaches out to find new ways of working with and encouraging her students, residents and colleagues. As an emergency medicine physician, one of her recent students said, "WOW!" She knew her in her administrative role as the faculty co-chair for the student American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) group, but had recently worked with her in the emergency room on a rotation and said, "She is fierce! Working with her was eye-opening and fascinating." Dr. Welch is not only the faculty co-chair for the student AMWA group, she is the director of the Women's Advisory Council for the school of medicine and coordinates activities for the faculty. Her influence on the future physicians in Indiana is strong, and her dedication to making them the best physicians possible is evident in all that she does."—Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD

Nominated by Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD

Honoree: Donna Woodson, MD

Donna Woodson, MD"Dr. Woodson's compassion and commitment to practicing outstanding medicine is inspirational. She is the type of physician anyone would trust to care for their family members, as her dedication to her patients is absolute. She has personally inspired me as she is not only an outstanding physician, but she carries herself with grace and confidence. She is a true mentor, always teaching me whether professionally or personally. I consider myself blessed to be able to call her my friend."—Carolyn Payne, medical student

Nominated by: Carolyn Payne (Medical Student)

Honoree: Alvin M. Zfass MD, FACP, MACG, AGAF

Alvin M. Zfass MD, FACP, MACG, AGAF"As the third female GI fellow in training at Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Zfass was unrelentingly supportive of me as the lone 'fella' of 13 'fellows' (although he DID call me 'Patrick'). He demonstrated a love and passion for the field of gastroenterology, a breezy friendly delivery of education to the fellows and residents, and a quest of lifelong learning. He has nurtured GI trainees for more than 50 years, and I am grateful for what he has done for me."—Patricia Raymond, MD

Nominated by Patricia Raymond, MD

Our Featured Inspirational Physician

Baharak Moshiree, MD

Baharak Moshiree, MD

Nominated by Natalie Cain, MD; Maria Samuel, MD; and Shamaila Waseem, MD

"Dr. Baharak Moshiree is not only an inspiration to her mentees, myself included, but also to her colleagues and patients. She truly embodies all the characteristics of an excellent physician—compassion, intelligence, a genuine desire to better the lives of her patients and others around her and dedication to providing the best care possible to her patients."—Maria Samuel, MD

"Refuse to accept the words 'No' or 'impossible'. Every 'no' opens a door to new cures and possibilities. Those who succeed and discover have usually had several failures first. Achievements feel far better when preceded by failures. You will inspire by example when you care, teach, listen and gently guide your colleagues at each level of their careers even if they are senior to you. Everyone can contribute."Baharak Moshiree, MD, 2014 Inspirational Physician Award Honoree