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Bradenton’s Blake Medical welcomes first resident doctors

Dr. Nemer Dabarge, left, co-organizer with Kim Sorrells of the new internal medicine residency program at Blake Medical Center, talks to three of the 15 new residents who start July 1 including, second from left, Mark Baker, Ian Kahane and Daniela Rodrigues.
Dr. Nemer Dabarge, left, co-organizer with Kim Sorrells of the new internal medicine residency program at Blake Medical Center, talks to three of the 15 new residents who start July 1 including, second from left, Mark Baker, Ian Kahane and Daniela Rodrigues. rdymond@bradenton.com

Mark Baker, Daniela Rodrigues and Ian Kahane are not household names in Manatee County — not yet.

But, by 2018, they may be among a new crop of doctors practicing internal medicine in Manatee County.

Baker, 30, who is from North Port, Rodrigues, 27, from St. Petersburg and Kahane, 26, originally from Long Island, N.Y., are among 15 bright-eyed and eager students who were selected from a pool of 1,200 applicantsthis year to become the 2016 inaugural class of Blake Medical Center’s first-ever residency program, which is for internal medicine doctors.

These 15 new physicians, who have come to Bradenton from Egypt, Romania, Pakistan, Florida and across the United States, will hit the floor at Blake on July 1 in their light green scrubs and will train with established doctors for three years, the last step before becoming practicing physicians.

Since 2010, Manatee Memorial Hospital has had three-year residency programs in internal medicine and family medicine and also has a one-year “traditional rotating intern” program, said Vernon DeSear, a Manatee Memorial Hospital spokesman.

Manatee Memorial has had four graduations and currently has 43 residents in training, DeSear added.

Manatee Memorial’s residency programs have placed roughly six physicians into the local medical community, according to DeSear’s estimate.

“We’re happy that Blake is getting its first residency because it’s a good thing for all of us,” DeSear said. “I think the whole goal for hospitals is to offer education to residents and, hopefully, keep them in our community once they graduate. We can use them.”

Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, which has the same corporate parent as Manatee Memorial, is in the application process for its first resident program, DeSear said.

Blake’s new residents are in their late 20s and early 30s and two of them have wives and children. A resident gets a yearly salary from Blake Medical Center of approximately $49,650.

“Their enthusiasm gives me hope for humanity,” said Dr. Nemer Dabarge, the always smiling internist who was hired away from Cleveland Clinic in South Florida to create the residency program at Blake along with help from Blake’s Kim Sorrells.

“It’s a very humbling experience for me,” Dabarge said. “How often do we get a chance to start a program? Since 2002, the number of candidates in medical schools has increased but the number of residency programs has not gone up. So, this is a wonderful thing to do.”

The 15 will carry pocket-size internal medicine text books with them as they make their rounds to help flatten out their steep learning curves.

They will start their day at 6 a.m. seeing the five or six patients they are assigned and then, at 8 a.m., they will sit down with their attending physicians and discuss the cases of patients admitted the night before. They will go to a noon conference with Dabarge and other residents and then, between 4 and 5 p.m. they will be responsible for a “sign out round” where they will sit down with other doctors to prepare them for what might happen to patients overnight. If they are on call they will work until 10 p.m.

It was a lack of doctors that inspired Blake to start its program, Dabarge said.

“It’s going to be more and more challenging to recruit primary care physicians so that is why Blake and our parent company, HCA, started the process of developing this training program,” Dabarge said.

Not only is there already a dearth of internists in the county as many Manatee doctors have reached retirement age, but Manatee’s over-age-65 population is expected to double by 2030, creating even a bigger need for primary care physicians, who diagnose and treat everything from heart failure and pneumonia to stroke, infection and belly pain, Dabarge said.

After Blake’s new program received notice of initial accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, Dabarge, along with Sorrells, had the tough job of selecting just 162 out of the 1,200 applicants to interview in person and then to whittle that group to 15.

Manatee residents will be glad to hear that, by 2018, when there should be 45 residents in circulation, the third-year residents will supervise the newcomers at night, giving Blake round-the-clock physician coverage, Dabarge said.

New doctors use social media

In some ways, a newly-minted doctor in 2016 may be slightly different than the 1970 version although these new doctors say the basic values are the same.

“In my med school we were taught the older values, like patient care is the most important thing and don’t worry about anything else,” Rodrigues said.

Unlike their 1970 predecessors, the 15 new residents come to Bradenton with social media in their holsters.

When a patient says to you, ‘Thank you, doctor,’ you get butterflies in your stomach as if you are going over a bridge really quick. You are really proud of yourself that you helped someone out in a time when they are not feeling well and now they are feeling better and taking a step forward in recovery. It feels really good to do that.

Mark Baker, new Blake Medical Center resident

Kahane, who is very outgoing and funny, started a Facebook page called “BMC’s First Class” where the 15 will share ideas.

Kahane, Baker and Rodrigues are all careful to say that as much as they use social media — Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, text and email — to communicate ideas they are very careful not to talk about individual cases.

“We understand patient privacy and we never encroach upon it,” Kahane said.

During the upcoming orientation on June 27, Dabarge and Sorrells will lecture the 15 on social media, Dabarge said.

“We will tell them that no cases are discussed on social media,” Dabarge said. “That is not the forum to discuss private matters. We have a whole lecture planned on that point.”

The 15 residents carry steep student loans

A big difference between the 1970 doctor and today’s new physician is money. These 15 residents will each carry with them an average of $250,000 to $300,000 in student loans, Dabarge said.

The national starting salary for internal medicine physicians is not as high as one would think — $140,000 to $150,000 annually in most areas up to $180,000 annually in top areas, Dabarge said.

Surgeons make significantly more money, Dabarge added.

While the earnings for a 1970 internal medicine doctor may not have gone up that much, the cost of living has taken a huge jump in nearly a half century.

“A physician is still able to have a good lifestyle, but you can’t become wealthy being a primary care physician unless you happen to be an extraordinary business person,” Dabarge said. “By my own experience, you are able to provide for your family, but no way become rich. You do this because you love it.”

Kahane, Baker and Rodrigues all said they have wanted to be doctors since they were little.

Rodrigues’ family has pictures of her at age 4 with a stethoscope around her neck, practicing on her brother. She went to the University of South Florida and then to Ross University School of Medicine in the Caribbean.

“I have always wanted to be a doctor,” said Baker, who attended the University of Tampa as an undergrad and went to Windsor University School of Medicine in Saint Kitts.

“I was 3-years-old and, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, ‘I want to be a doctor,’ ” Kahane said. “The only thing different now is that I probably use the word ‘physician.’ ”

Kahane, Baker and Rodrigues all said they want to practice in Manatee County after residency.

“It’s beautiful here and the cost of living is very affordable,” Kahane said.

“The beaches are gorgeous and it’s close to my family,” Rodrigues said.

“I want to stay here to practice,” Baker said. “It’s a friendly community and there is so much to do here year-round, like Riverwalk and the beaches. It’s just a beautiful place.”

When Baker describes the feeling he gets working with patients, he doesn’t have to say money is secondary.

“When a patient says to you, ‘Thank you, doctor,’ you get butterflies in your stomach as if you are going over a bridge really quick,” Baker said. “You are really proud of yourself that you helped someone out in a time when they are not feeling well and now they are feeling better and taking a step forward in recovery. It feels really good to do that.”

Richard Dymond: 941-745-7072, @RichardDymond

The inaugural class of Blake Medical Center resident physicians

  • Mark Phillip Baker, Windsor School of Medicine, from North Port
  • Wajeeha Saeed Butt, Dow Medical College, Pakistan, was living in in Port Saint Lucie
  • John Kimy Guirguis, Ain Shams University Faculty of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic GI Clinical Fellowship in Ohio, from Egypt
  • Shalini Hemachandran, Amrita School of Medicine, from Kochi, India
  • Ian Michael Kahane, Ross University School of Medicine, was living in Aventura, originally from Long Island, N.Y.
  • Ayesha Fatima Khan, American University of Antigua College of Medicine, from Lombard, Il.
  • Sitara Kishore, P.S.G. Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, India, from Fort Lauderdale
  • Rohit Kumar, Liaquat University of Medial and Health Sciences, from Jamshoro, Pakistan
  • Fiorella Pendola, Universidad Catolica de Santiago de Guayaquil Facultad de Ciencias Medicas, Ecuador, lives in Miami
  • Daniela Rodrigues, Ross University School of Medicine, from St. Petersburg
  • Dilpreet Singh, American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, from Fresno, Calif.
  • Vijay Srinivasan, , American University of Antigua College of Medicine, from Rochester, N.Y.
  • Idrees, Suliman, University College Dublin/Letterkenny University Hospital, from San Diego, Calif.
  • Kanwarpreet Singh Tandon, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial College Raipur, India, Research Fellowship at Cleveland Clinic Florida, from India
  • Zaharcu, Alexandru, Universitatea de Medicina si Farmacie Carol Davila, Romania, Observer at Cleveland Clinic Florida, from Romania

Information supplied by Blake Medical Center

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