Much has changed for family medicine practitioners since the start of the pandemic, from increased telehealth visits to a concerted effort to instill vaccine confidence among patients. One thing that remains unchanged, however, is the resolve, courage, and achievements of our trainees. This is particularly true of our 55 family medicine residency graduates of 2021.

Starting their practice in clinics and hospitals

Following graduation, about 84 percent of our graduates dove right into private practice and/or hospital-based positions, such as UMN Medical Center alum Kristin Schwacha, DO, a family medicine physician at Whittier Clinic at HCMC in Minneapolis, and St. John's alum Ramla Kasozi, MBChB, MPH, who now practices at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

Reflecting on her new role, Dr. Kasozi tweeted:

"[This is a] great opportunity as a family medicine doc to help my patients during their acute conditions. I can also engage with residents and medical students so that we can interrogate race-based clinical algorithms."

Sometimes graduates become faculty within our department, and this year that includes St. Cloud faculty Frances Tepolt, MD, (graduate of St. John's) and Eric Christensen, MD (graduate of St. Cloud).

Continuing their educational path

Six of our graduates this year have chosen to further their training by pursuing fellowships: four in sports medicine and two in obstetrics.

  • Stefania Baccino, MD - family medicine obstetrics fellowship, location TBD
  • Katie Bressler, MD - primary care obstetrics fellowship in Idaho
  • Molly Gruber, DO - primary care sports medicine fellowship in Pittsburgh
  • Christine Prill, MD - sports medicine fellowship in Portland, Oregon
  • James Smith, MD, MPH - primary care sports medicine fellowship at UConn
  • Thomas Walsh, V, MD - sports medicine fellowship at the University of Virginia

Graduation can be a very emotional time—especially these days—as articulated on Twitter by North Memorial graduate and current fellow Dr. Gruber around the time of matriculation:

"Feeling waves of emotions as I process what has been an exceptionally long year for many reasons. I will be forever thankful for what I've learned from the community of North Minneapolis and the relationships I've been fortunate enough to develop in these past three years."

Deciding where to live and practice

As in past years, most of our graduates opted to stay in Minnesota. Three graduates stayed in the Midwest, while the rest of the group ended up in various places from California to West Virginia. One graduate, UMN Medical Center alum Vivian Liu, MD, ventured north of the border and is practicing in British Columbia, Canada.

Choosing Minnesota sets up our graduates for success

Minnesota remains one of the best places for a future family medicine doctor to complete their residency. There is simply no end to the variety of activities one can participate in, whether it's hiking or skiing on one of the many state trails, visiting a world-class museum or theater, or catching a soccer or football game (go, Gophers!). Doctors here are able to create meaningful lives that help offset the risk of burnout or exhaustion.

Wherever our 2021 graduates decide to practice, they carry with them first-rate skills in primary care and an indefatigable spirit—which is exactly what is needed in healthcare today. We look forward to hearing about and celebrating their future accomplishments.

View photos of our 2021 graduates