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Posted March 21, 2014
History Unfolds as All Children’s Announces First Class of Pediatric Residents

It was a landmark moment in the history of All Children's Hospital, and the employees, physicians, leaders and trustees who packed the auditorium in the Outpatient Care Center marked the occasion with stickers that said it all:

"I Was There. Match Day 2014."

The announcement of the inaugural class of 12 residents for the All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine Pediatric Residency Program was greeted with a burst of cheers and applause Friday afternoon.

Culminating an effort that took three years of painstaking work - likened to "a steep mountain climb" by All Children's Director of Medical Education Dr. Chad Brands, a key architect of the program - All Children's Hospital took one more step in its quest to become one of the leading children's hospitals in the United States.

The creation of a top-flight residency program was a major goal of the integration when All Children's joined Johns Hopkins Medicine on April 1, 2011. Nearly three years later to the day, the inaugural ACH JHM residency class - a talented group of new doctors hailing from educational institutions throughout the United States - was announced amid a festive atmosphere.

The dream had finally become a reality.

"I'm extremely excited," All Children's president, vice dean and physician-in-chief Dr. Jonathan Ellen told the crowd.

"Match Day is when all the (graduating) medical students in the country find out where they're going for their residency program," he explained. "What happens is that all the residents decide where they want to go, and all the programs decide who they want to take. And then a computer program figures it all out and tries to put the medical students with the program that wants them the most."

The result is a mixture of anxiety and elation coast to coast, including at All Children's, where the residents entering the brand new program will create a vibrant learning and teaching environment. In addition, the hospital also celebrated the latest class of residents joining the University of South Florida pediatric residency program long affiliated with ACH. "People ask, ‘Why is a residency program so important for a hospital?" said Dr. Ellen. "I think the more you have learners in a hospital, and the more you have people asking questions, the more the healthcare team is challenged to excel.

"So it really creates a different kind of environment. We've been lucky enough to have, for many years, a residency program from USF. And now to have a second residency program, which will give us about 16 or 17 interns at one time, I think really is a phenomenal opportunity for us."

Dr. Ellen introduced the former chairman of the All Children's Health System board, Claudia Sokolowski, who played a vital role in the integration with Johns Hopkins Medicine - an alliance that formed the foundation for Friday's celebration.

"Through the years, the boards have been tasked with guiding All Children's - through some good times and some bad times - mostly good times," she said. "And this is definitely a good time.

"We've shared the vision of nurturing this hospital to grow beyond serving the children in our own back yard. We've established All Children's as a regional and a statewide referral center for the best in pediatric care. We've created outreach centers all over west central Florida. We've built a state-of-the-art facility. And we're taking a step today to become a national children's health care institution."

At the core of the journey, she emphasized, has always been one guiding tenet: "It's what's best for our little patients."

ACH Associate Director of Medical Education Dr. Raquel Hernandez spoke of the essential traits they looked for in selecting the first class.

"I've been waiting for this week, and as I thought about it, I realized there have been a lot of questions that have come our way, in terms of ‘How do you really build a new residency program?' And when I thought about what I felt were the ingredients for us getting to this point, I realized that we needed to build this program is what we look for in our applicants: It was fire for achievement. Vision for excellence. Resilience for adversity. And it was also teamwork.

"I think it's a day that underlines the immense responsibility we owe to all of our trainees to uphold the excellence that we promise as Hopkins Medicine," Dr. Hernandez continued. "Much work remains from this point, and I truly look forward to continuing to work with all of you here to uphold this promise."

With excitement rising throughout the room, the envelope was finally opened to reveal the names and educational affiliations of the first ACH JHM residents:

  • Stacey Cole: University of Utah
  • Brianna Conforti: The Chicago Medical School
  • Paul Gilbert: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Mirinda Gillespie: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Katherine Hurley: Texas Tech University
  • Nicholas Jabre: University of Cincinnati
  • Racha Khalaf: University of Central Florida College of Medicine
  • Alexander Kim: University of Virginia
  • John Morrison: University of Nebraska
  • Nina Replete: Ross University School of Medicine
  • Elena Rueda-de-Leon: Florida International University
  • Jacquelyn Selbst: University of South Florida

Hanging on a wall in the back of the room, hand-drawn greeting cards from All Children's patients welcomed the doctors with colorful pictures - and a similar banner hung outside on the bridge between the OCC and hospital. And when the final name was read aloud, applause cascaded through the room, signaling that a promising new era was truly underway.