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Our alumni continue on to dynamic careers in primary care, research and specialty care. To give you a snapshot of our Primary Care Track's impact, we've compiled personal testaments from alumni who've openly shared how the track has helped them achieve their current positions in pediatrics and beyond.

Why did you choose the Primary Care Track for residency training? 

Boogaard C

Claire Boogaard, M.D., M.P.H.
Pediatrician at Children’s Health Center at THEARC

I was torn between the Community Health Track and Primary Care Track, as I knew I wanted to work in the community as a pediatrician. However, after spending a one-month rotation at Children's National and interviewing with the Primary Care Track, I realized the best comprehensive primary care training I could receive would be with the attendings at CPA Foggy Bottom as part of the PCT cohort. I was not disappointed.

How did the Primary Care Track influence your eventual career choice? 

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to specialize when I entered residency. However, I soon realized the continuity of care that primary care offers allows you to advocate for patients in a way you can’t do in many other specialties. The primary care physician can play a pivotal role in defining health outcomes for children, especially working in disenfranchised communities — where health literacy is low and barriers to quality care is high. The Primary Care Track helped me learn to follow through on patient care in a way that can make a real difference in the lives of our patients.

Why did you choose the Primary Care track for residency training?

Alexis Leaonard

Alexis Leonard, M.D.
Fellow, Hematology/Oncology

Training at Children's National afforded me all the benefits of a large program, but it was the Primary Care Track that gave me what I think was the best primary care training in the country. This was confirmed by many cohorts and medical school friends who went to different residencies around the country. Upon going into pediatric primary care, all of my friends were in agreement: they would've given anything to experience what I did and feel as prepared to enter the work force.

As an introvert, I could've certainly got lost in the shuffle of a large program, but the Primary Care Track was everything I needed to succeed. The program became my home in the midst of all the tremendously hard work of residency. My co-residents and former attendings from Foggy Bottom at Children's National are my lifelong friends. I not only admire their vast knowledge, but the exceptional care provided to pediatric patients. 

How did the Primary Care Track influence your eventual career choice?

I struggled quite a bit deciding between primary care and subspecialty care, but knew that I could achieve the same career satisfaction from hematology-oncology as I did from my continuity patients during residency. Despite being in this track, there was no pressure for me to enter primary care – it was simply the modeling of exceptional physicians, the attention they gave to me as a resident in training and the love they possessed with their patients that made fall in love with my training and primary care in general. I will forever be grateful for this time in my life, for shaping me as a physician and most certainly as a pediatrician.

Why did you choose the Primary Care Track for residency training? 

Alicia WidgeAlicia Widge, M.D., M.P.H.
Fellow, Allergy Immunology, National Institutes of Health

I chose the Primary Care Track because I wanted a solid foundation in outpatient pediatrics, where I could learn the breadth of primary care from well child development to sick visits. Continuity with patients throughout residency allowed me to follow a cohort of patients from birth and develop meaningful relationships with families. During my interview, the faculty and clinic staff were incredibly welcoming and supportive.

The faculty are all dedicated to teaching and the track feels like a mini-family within the larger residency program. The mentorship opportunities are unparalleled and having faculty that are so dedicated to teaching made for a welcoming and robust learning experience.

How did the Primary Care Track influence your eventual career choice?

The Primary Care Track gave me flexibility to explore my career options through elective time in the second and third years. Meeting weekly with a mentor to talk through everything, from interesting patients to my career goals, was a huge help in figuring out what I ultimately wanted to do. Having a specialized education in primary care was also a major draw for fellowship programs when looking at my application because it set me apart. I was able to talk about the patients I followed since birth and the specialized skill set I had.

Ultimately, the Primary Care Track allowed me to fully immerse myself in primary care, have elective time to experience specialty clinics and participate in research activities while getting one-on-one mentorship from the best teachers I have ever had. All of the attendings, nurses and administrative staff at the Foggy Bottom Clinic truly become your family and there is no better place to spend residency!

Why did you choose the Primary Care Track for residency training?

Nia Heard-Garris, M.D.
Instructor at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

I chose the Primary Care Track for a number of reasons:

  • I wanted to become a well-trained primary care pediatrician, whether I decided to go on to specialty training or not.
  • As a medical student, I met Ellie Hamburger, M.D., and she left a great impression on me. From then on, I knew I wanted to learn under her.
  • Meeting Ed Sepe, M.D., on my interview day helped solidify that the Primary Care Track would be a great track for me to train. He was very warm and friendly and I felt like he really cared about the residents in the program. Although the track did not have much racial, ethnic or gender diversity (besides him), it seemed like he would be a great advocate.
  • I loved that the track had an entire session dedicated to learning about adolescent health issues.

How did the Primary Care Track influence your eventual career choice? 

In my current role as a clinician-scientist, I'm able to work on big important problems every day, create more knowledge about those issues and strategize possible ways to intervene. I would have never known this type of career was possible without my Primary Care Track family.

Through the help of amazing mentors, I was able to explore opportunities in both policy and research. The Global Health course and work in Honduras granted me comfort in taking a primary care job that worked with a largely Spanish-speaking, under-served community. I am eternally grateful for my time within the Primary Care Track.