Kate Abraham, MD
I am a disciple of Christ, a wife to the kind, patient man whose picture is probably right below this, a mom to 2 year old Anaiya and a baby boy due in September 2018, and a family medicine intern at Cahaba! I applied to medical school for selfish reasons, but thanks to God's grace He has made me completely new and medicine is now an opportunity to bring Him the glory He deserves. I am thankful for everything I learned in medical school but also so grateful to be finished with that season. I love enjoying the privilege of being someone's doctor. I love working alongside people I consider my sisters and brothers. I love getting to care for people holistically. And I love Cahaba and am so grateful to be here! A few of my favorite parts...
1. I love how I am encouraged to "love my neighbor as myself" just as Jesus commands us. Prior to moving to Birmingham we lived in an apartment complex in Durham, NC where refugees are resettled for four years. I had never experienced friendships so rich and deep. The community that came from physically living in the same place was incomparable. My ability to understand the health disparities my neighbors faced also grew. Medical school was challenging though because driving 20 minutes to the hospital or library each day and caring for a completely different patient population felt out of place. Here at Cahaba I get to serve and be served by my neighbors both on my front porch and at our clinic. I recognize most of my patient's addresses. I can hand out my business card to new friends we meet on our morning walks. The services our clinic offers to the uninsured (which there are so many of in Birmingham unfortunately) are incomparable to other options in the city, and the clinic is placed strategically in a neighborhood home to many people who struggle with access to medical care.
2. I am being trained and mentored in EVERY area of my life. I will not leave Birmingham as just a better doctor. I will leave as a better follower of Jesus, wife, mom, neighbor, teammate, friend, disciple maker...and doctor. Our family is passionate about global health and physical and spiritual injustices, so are preparing to work overseas long-term. Our life will definitely not look like just seeing patients in clinic or only rounding at the hospital everyday, and I am so grateful that I have been given an opportunity to fully prepare for that now.
3. Because our track of the program is fairly new, we are gaining valuable exposure to how residency programs are built. Things like giving feedback respectfully, what types of learning are high yield, how to build good relationships with hospitals in the area, and how to teach and train staff. We hope to be a part of teaching, training, and discipling future doctors both in the US and overseas as our careers continue, making this experience foundational to our time in residency.
4. We are encouraged to care for the whole person by attendings who are actively doing this themselves. This does not mean just an offer for prayer at the end of the visit - which is all I saw or heard about during medical school. This means really engaging people about where they are in their relationship with God. This means asking if they have a personal relationship with Jesus and what that looks like, and following up on what they share. This means telling stories from God's word. This means praying for them faithfully outside of their visit. This also usually means getting tissues for not only my patient but myself as well...or is that just the pregnancy hormones ;)
Come visit us!! We are just down the street from the clinic! I am always up for sharing a meal (that probably won't taste great...the struggle when you love showing hospitality but can barely follow a recipe and have a 2 year old manning the mixing spoon), going on a walk - or a run after this baby pops out!, hanging out with kiddos, or just sitting on the porch and listening to what God is teaching you and where He is leading you. His plans are perfect and always so far beyond our expectations. If you can't visit, please feel free to email anytime (email@example.com) - happy to talk about picking a specialty, interviews, rank lists, intentional living, being a momma in medicine (like having a baby during intern year...let's hope I survive that one to tell about it!!), global health, public health, faith in medicine, anything!
Paul Abraham, MD
I grew up in Houston, TX and started med school at UT Southwestern in Dallas. I met my wife Kate at a Christian Community Health Fellowship Conference (these are incredible! please check them out if you haven't heard of them...they offer scholarships for students and residents if finances are a problem) and transferred to the University of North Carolina to finish medical school after we got married. We are preparing to serve overseas when we complete our medical training. We are thankful God led us to Cahaba because of the strong community here, the constant reminders of God's promises and faithfulness, and the daily challenge to hold fast to our calling and die to ourselves. We are honored to be a part of a primary care center that strives to care for underserved populations and is able to do so with excellence. Outside of residency, some of my favorite things to do are study God's word and discuss it with others, play basketball, and hang out in our neighborhood.
We would love to host you, have you over for a meal, or get to know you if you're able to visit so please reach out! Also ask any questions, I'd be happy to chat more about my path in medicine, the program, missions, being a husband and father in medicine, or anything else - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, here are some of my favorite verses and how I apply them:
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21
--Where I spend my time and energy shows what I value and care about. This is true even during medical school and residency. We can't wait till we are done with training to invest in the things God is calling us to.--
"Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8
--Care about the injustices in society, care for others, and realize that all you have is from God.--
"Blessed are the peackemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." Matthew 5:9
--Children of God seek to create peace in this world.--
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:25-27
--Don't stress because God is in control, even over the most basic things.--
Alex Lea, MD
I was born and raised in the suburbs of Nashville, TN. I then spent the next near decade in beautiful Greenville, SC as an undergrad at Furman University and as a med student at USC-Greenville. I entered college as a premed student who saw medicine as the default trajectory for someone who enjoyed and excelled in sciences and who wanted to do something good and meaningful. The deeper I pursued sciences in college and the more I learned about myself through new relationships outside of my bubbled home the more I began to question my "default path." It was in college that the Lord revealed to me the goodness of His grace and His calling of me to enter into His Kingdom work. I began to pursue trips to several different low-income countries and found the answer to the good and meaningful life I had dreamed of by working among the poor and destitute and seeing the transformative power of the gospel in those communities. I also saw healthcare being delivered in a context that I felt matched my passions, often with a public health focus, and often by family doctors. I entered medical school prepared to grind out 4 years always looking ahead to returning to the mission field. When it came to choosing a residency, there were a handful of programs that kept being mentioned among overseas friends. I entered the interview season with the prayer that I would choose a program and a community that would make me a better follower of Jesus as well as a better doctor. I found that place in Memphis, TN with Rez early in the process and never really thought twice about it. I was committed to Rez and was very ready to return to TN for the next chapter of life and enter into intentional living and a robust training program that had a history of sending doctors to the nations. And when the Lord saw fit to close Rez over Christmas and take a remnant to Birmingham to form the "Cahurban track" the decision was still the same. I wanted to be apart of something that challenged my faith and would deepen my dependence on the Lord, and starting a brand new track with lots of question marks sounded like a fertile ground for my soul. I knew I would be surrounded by my Good Father and by some of the most inspiring people in medicine that I had ever come across. Now that I'm in Bham and settling into the community of West End, when I'm not doing medicine, I enjoy hiking the great outdoors, playing basketball on 8-foot hoops, and watching indie films pretending like I see the symbolism.
Malia Swanson, MD
I am from Boulder, CO, and attended medical school at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. I chose Cahaba Urban track because its a place where patients are cared about as whole people; spiritual, emotional and physical. Cahaba urban is filled with passionate faculty that lead by example. These faculty encourage and guide us in providing medical care to people who struggle to receive the care they need. I hope to work abroad in a low healthcare access setting and so chose a program that will prepare me spiritually and academically for that setting. For rest and rejuvenation, I like to hike along Vulcan trail with my husband, daughter and son.
Rubin Varghese, MD
My name is Rubin. My family immigrated to the States from India when I was 3. I grew up in Oklahoma City. I was brought up in a traditional Christian household but I was a nominal believer. During my undergraduate studies, my faith became my own and become the center point of my life.
I pursued a degree in pharmacy, but this is where God taught me there is more to life than making a lot of money and being comfortable.
I felt an increasing desire to respond to the Gospel by using my life to live out the Kingdom of God on this earth. My last year in pharmacy school, I went on a mission trip which opened my eyes up to global health care disparities. I felt the urge to practice health care at a wider scope and uses my skill set to impact the disenfranchised and underrepresented in local and global communities.
I went to medical school at the University of Oklahoma. Although I drifted through some others specialties during medical school I found that family medicine gave me the widest scope of practice and continuity of care. I chose Cahaba Family Medicine Residency because I had an interest in global health and taking care of the underserved and marginalized in a Christian context. I knew I wanted a program that gave me the opportunity for discipleship and the ability to minister to others through my profession. I wanted to be surrounded by a community who was intentional about their faith in and out of the clinic. I found that Cahaba FMR would challenge my growth spiritually and as a physician. I want my career to mean more than just the number of patients I can see or procedures I can complete. Rather I would have my career defined by the quality of care for each individual patient and how I use that to advance the Kingdom.
Matthew 4:19 - And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Sajel Nuwamanya, MD
My name is Sajel and I grew up surrounded by the largest freshwater lakes in the world, in beautiful Michigan. I enjoy watersports and being outdoors and I’ve been blessed by the opportunity to travel around the world. I’ve snorkeled in French Polynesia, ran along the Atlantic coast in Dakar Senegal and white water rafted on the Nile River in Uganda. What’s amazing is the great number of people that have impacted me during my travels. They have taught me how to love God even when I’m in lack and how to love people especially when it’s inconvenient. I came to Cahaba Family Medicine residency because I want to continue to be challenged. My job doesn’t end with a signature on my last clinic note but continues as I struggle with my co-residents and faculty to be a good neighbor. I’m here because practicing excellent medicine is a daily opportunity to fight with the least of these.
DEREK CHUI, DO
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” - Romans 8:37
Praise God that He has made us more than conquerors! My name is Derek Chui. Fun fact: my relatives have the last name Tsui, but my dad changed it to Chui when he came to America, and I reap the benefits of being earlier in the alphabet. Small details like that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but I’m learning daily that God still cares about the smallest details of our lives. I am continually amazed at the grace of my Savior, and how he works all things for good.
Now for some other details. I grew up in the great state of Texas and have lived there all my life. I developed a passion for community resources early in life, and saw that grow as I witnessed brokenness in the school environment. I learned to love education, and it was here that God began to stir my affection for the marginalized. Long before I saw medicine as a career, God was teaching me that service to Him should be preeminent. Medicine came on the scene after a brief stint as an emergency medical technician in high school, where steadfast first responders took me in as their own and showed me what it meant to be serve others well. I soon began to realize that as a physician, I could see patients through care from beginning to end, and be both a social and medical resource in the pursuit of health through long term relationships.
I attended college close to home, and here God was gracious enough to help me make my faith my own, as I learned what it meant to be wrecked before Him. In this time, God began to put in my heart an awareness of a broken medical system and brokenness in me. The Spirit helps us in our weakness! He brought me through college and into medical school, where I had the opportunity to walk alongside accountable guys who showed me that present sufferings are nothing compared to coming glory. As third year of medical school approached, choosing family medicine was easy: it is the ultimate specialty for community resource management and full-spectrum care, so I began to look for programs that would allow me to dive into the community and learn to be a resource in all facets to patients. I heard about Rez through alumni at my medical school and a mutual friend at church, and spent a month rotating here in November. I was moved with joy to find Christian disciples that cared deeply about their neighborhoods, sought to invest in their community, and approached the throne of grace with humility as a part of their medical training. I saw passionate folks who poured into students, each other, and the city. I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else: these were the mentors I needed and the spiritual discipline I was seeking! So far, Tennessee has been all sorts of different. The right kind of different, though, where you’re challenged to grow and learn dependence on God. If He is for us, who can be against us, right? This is such a special place, and I am so grateful and honored to be here in Memphis, serving alongside fellow heirs with Christ!
CHERIE SALISBURY, DO
I’m happy to call Memphis my new home. My husband and I are LOVING it! The food is amazing, the culture is electric, and the people are incredibly genuine. We’re proud residents of Binghampton and I can’t imagine having better neighbors. I count it as a blessing that Christ has given me the opportunity to work at and be a part of Resurrection Health.
I believe that God has called us all to be His hands and feet; the physical manifestation of His love. For me, this command has ultimately led me into the medical field. While I enjoy practicing medicine, my true joy comes from interacting with my patients and getting to know each one as a person who is walking through the highs and lows of life. I look forward to relishing in my time here in Tennessee, however, I also long to serve internationally as a physician who can be used by God to grow His kingdom. Where that will be is yet to be revealed to me, but I know God has called me to the mission field and while I wait on His timing, I will rest in His command to “Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).”
PENNSON WANG, MD
Coming from an atheist/agnostic background, the first 18 years of my life were lived in pursuing my own pleasures and ambitions. It was in college when I came to know Christ and the trajectory of my life drastically changed. Given that I had come to Christ in a college setting where I was heavily involved with serving in the campus ministry, after completing college, I seriously considered the possibility of pursuing ministry. However, during the three years in between college and medical school, the Lord showed me that my motives in wanting to pursue ministry were primarily selfish and self-centered. I began to truly seek what the Lord desired for me to do after college, and it became clear over months of praying that I was to apply and enter into medical school.
I quickly found once I hit the clinical years that medicine was a field that encouraged and at many times, rewarded performance, knowledge, and ego. As a result, during my time in medical school, unrecognized by me, medicine crept into my heart and I made it into an idol. Moreover, there was another idol in my heart—one that was the result of growing up in a middle-class family in which I never lacked anything or had any physical need: the idol of comfort. As I began to look towards where the Lord was leading me after medical school, He exposed both of these idols in their ugliness. I came to realize that I was building my own kingdom rather than the Lord’s; seeking my own security rather than being willing to follow the Lord wherever He may lead me; and making medicine the ultimate thing, rather than having it be a tool that is to be taken up or placed down at the Lord’s command. All of this was being revealed to me when I was a student rotating at Rez, and it was at Rez where I was being challenged the most in these areas. Now, as a resident at Rez, I do not imagine for a bit that the struggles in these areas will be easy to resolve or overcome; however, several things I do seek: to be reminded to keep medicine in its proper place as a means to an end, and not an end in itself; to not let comfort get in the way of going where the Lord would have me go; and to be consistently challenged—by brothers and sisters with more faith than myself—to not seek my own kingdom, but the Lord’s Kingdom and righteousness first. “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:20-21, NASB)
J.T. EPTING, MD
I grew up in a small town in South Carolina, where both sides of my family still live (I guess I’m the sojourner of the family). For most of my childhood I wanted to be a veterinarian, but the summer before I began college at Clemson University, something shifted in my heart toward taking care of people instead of animals. Through a series of humbling events, I found myself at a low point just after graduating from Clemson, and God began a renewal in my life that continues to this day. I attended medical school at the Medical University of South Carolina, and perhaps more importantly, God led me to Centerpoint Church, a church committed to living out the gospel in community. I experienced the power of community within the church that I had never felt before, and through this community of brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord revealed depths of Himself that I had never dreamed of. As we all grew together, God began to direct my heart toward caring for people with all sorts of problems, especially for those who are marginalized or underserved, so I found myself wanting to pursue family medicine. Around this same time period, the Lord brought my wife and me together through the same community of believers (I’m afraid I’d fill up the whole website if I told the entire story here). Together we are able to serve in ways that neither of us could have ever done alone, and I will be forever grateful to God for the grace He showed me through Rebekah. When it became time to start searching for residencies to apply to, I was scrolling through a list of family medicine programs and stumbled upon Resurrection Health. The vision of Resurrection Health and what I felt the Lord calling me to do aligned: to use medicine and ministry together to the glory of God. Little did I know how intertwined my (and Rebekah’s) story was with those already at work in Memphis. We found connections with people here that we were never aware of, confirming our calling to this residency program and this city.
One last bit. As God grew my faith in medical school, He consistently challenged me with this verse and still does to this day: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39 ESV). The life of a follower of Jesus is a paradox: the secret to abundant, rich, wonderful life, is actually to lose it, to give it up for His sake. I have found His words to be true. I am honored to be in a residency program where we all know this to be true, where we all learn together what it means to lay down our lives for the King who lavishes His grace and love upon us, who pierces the darkness with his marvelous light, and who stands victorious over sickness and death. To Him be glory and honor forever.