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From Residents to Fellows: Staying at Dell Med to Improve Care for the Austin Community

Dec. 22, 2023

Charles Hyman and another physician treat a patient inside a patient room.

Charles Hyman, a gastroenterology and hepatology fellow, works with a peer to treat a patient.

“The fact that our trainees want to stay at Dell Med following their graduation from residency is a testament to the strength of our faculty and programs,” says Jonathan MacClements, M.D., senior associate dean for graduate medical education. “Our residents and fellows contribute to more than 575,000 hours of care annually for Austin’s patients. We’re glad they’ve found a home here.” 

Of the seven fellows who stayed at Dell Med and Ascension Seton following residency graduation last year, hear from three about why Austin is the best place to continue their training, and the impact this continuity is having on their career trajectory.

The Best of Both Worlds: A Tightknit Community in a Big City  

Charles Hyman, M.D. | Gastroenterology & Hepatology Fellowship

What drew you to Dell Med? 

I transferred into internal medicine at Dell Med from an interventional radiology residency program at a different university, drawn back to the bedside as COVID-19 presented new, urgent needs. My scenic route through training brought me to a few big, well-established medical systems, but ultimately, I was drawn to Dell Med’s startup spirit and growth attitude. 

It is exciting to be on the ground floor of something with immense potential. It is hard to beat the combination of a small-town feel of a new program complete with one-on-one attention from faculty and leadership, big plans of new hospitals, new partnerships — new everything. Austin has exploded with growth, and the medical system is starting to catch up.  
With UT Austin as its home, Dell Med is connected to a massive network. In residency, I had the unique opportunity of working with the Texas Health Catalyst innovation program, which put me in touch with engineers, investors, lawyers and more — even more reason to stay here for a fellowship and, hopefully, continue to be a part of Dell Med and its service to Travis County.

Making a Hospital Into a Home – Providing Patients a Sense of Peace  

Victoria Cooremans, M.D. | Hospice & Palliative Medicine Fellowship

How does this fellowship fit into your long-term plans? What do you hope to learn from it? 

I want to work in an academic medical center and help other people learn the skills required to have tough conversations with patients when things get hard. We, as doctors and humans, are not good at talking about death. I think we all should know how to break bad news — a skill needed beyond hospice and palliative medicine.  

I want to continue to serve low-income, underinsured and undocumented patients. Most of my family, especially on my mom’s side, live at or below the poverty level and speak Spanish. These patients remind me of my roots, and I want to give back to my people. That’s why I chose Dell Med — to serve the poor and patients with language barriers. 

What factors shaped your decision to pursue this area of medicine? 

I started my residency in June 2020 during the height of COVID. I was a brand new scared intern, getting my bearings while treating patients who were really sick. I found myself having really hard conversations with patients, families and even my team members. We were all grieving and making big decisions: Is the patient going on the ventilator? Are we extubating? What are we doing?  

Over time, I found meaning and some joy in becoming the person who could help families and patients navigate these difficult times. That part of my practice brought me some semblance of peace because the rest — the medicine, the world — was chaos. Being the calm for somebody else when their life was falling apart was so impactful and such a gift for both of us, for me and for them. Even if I couldn’t physically heal my patient, at least I could bring them some peace. It was then that palliative care just kind of hit me. This is just where I need to be in my life — it’s a perfect fit. 

Being the calm for somebody in their life when it was falling apart was so impactful and so such a gift for both of us, for me and for them.  

Victoria Cooremans, Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellow

Living & Leading the Mission of Transforming Health Care  

Quynh Pham, M.D. | Pediatric Hospital Medicine Fellowship

Talk about your path to becoming a physician. Have any of the roles you’ve taken on surprised you? 

Initially, I did not have plans to pursue a chief year or fellowship after completing residency. I did not think that I was going to pursue a chief year or fellowship after completing residency. I thought I would immediately start practicing after graduation. But throughout my experience, specifically through intern year and early on in my second year of residency, I saw the value of medical education and the impact it can have on a large group of people. I began to understand how important leadership is within medical education, and this realization led to those additional years of training in order for me to hone my leadership skills, teach trainees and make the kind of impact that can create a ripple effect.  

There were many moments during residency when I watched attending physicians communicate so effectively with a patient, from diagnosis to their intended care plan, and that was the communication and teaching I wanted to learn more about. As physicians, we are teaching our patients as well as our trainees. Observing and being a part of multidisciplinary teams who provide individualized, high-quality care and how impactful that was to patients and their families really inspired me to learn more. 

What do you think sets Dell Med apart from other institutions? 

What makes Dell Med special are the faculty members who are recruited here, the system that is in place and being in a growing city. There is a culture of welcoming change that seems unique to this institution. Everyone is driven by change, which is exciting to be part of because all my ideas are welcomed with questions, support and curiosity. I have found great mentors, and the continuity of staying at Dell Med for residency and fellowship has given me the time needed to develop that rapport.  

It’s inspiring to be a part of an institution that is growing so quickly, surrounded by people comfortable with change and fueled by innovation.

Graduate medical education, or GME, refers to the period of education in a particular specialty or subspecialty following completion of medical school. This continuation of training through residency and fellowship programs provides the clinical and educational experience needed for physicians to achieve autonomy, deliver high-quality patient care, and prepare for challenges in an evolving health care landscape.

Dell Med, in partnership with Ascension Seton, is home to 442 resident and fellow physicians and sponsors 48 residency and fellowship programs ranging from family medicine and neurology to pediatric emergency medicine and cardiovascular disease.