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3 Questions for the 2020 Barrow Graduating Class

July 1 marks a new academic year at Barrow Neurological Institute, when we welcome a new class of trainees and say goodbye to those graduating from our residency and fellowship programs.

To our graduates—whether you are pursuing neurology, neurosurgery, or neuroradiology—we congratulate you on completing this milestone and wish you well in your future endeavors. Thank you for your dedication.

My congratulations to the graduating residents and fellows for their great achievement. They have adapted and learned through their years here including dealing with an evolving pandemic. Their professionalism and resiliency is truly commendable. Barrow is not just about excellent training and delivery of superb patient care. It is also a place where there is a common spirit of purpose and a sense of family and a place where lifetime friendships are forged.  We are very proud of our graduates and wish them well in the next steps in their careers and lives.

Dr. Terry Fife, Designated Institutional Official

This year, we asked all graduating residents and fellows to share their most memorable moments at Barrow, the advice they would give to their younger selves, and their biggest influences. We’ve compiled their responses below.

Neurology Residents

To the Neurology Residency Program Class of 2020: Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.’  All of you have worked hard during residency, acquiring the knowledge to be successful and exceptional neurologists. Take pride in how far in this journey you have come, and have continued belief in how far you can go and what you can achieve. You are a part of a legacy of wonderful neurologists. Use your knowledge to change the world. Congratulations on this accomplishment!

Dr. Courtney Schusse, Neurology Residency Program Director

Dr. Yazan Al-Hasan, Adult Neurology Resident

New role: Clinical Neurophysiology & Epilepsy Fellow, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona

photo of yazan al hasan with the neurology residency program

Yazan Al-Hasan, MD

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was catching an aortic dissection.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be that it’s all manageable.
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been Dr. David Treiman.

Dr. Melissa Balbuena-Root, Adult Neurology Resident

New role: Clinical Neurophysiology & Epilepsy Fellow, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona

photo of neurology resident melissa balbuena-root

Melissa Balbuena-Root, MD

  1. My most memorable moments at Barrow were spending time with my co-residents!
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Continue to learn from your patients.
  3. My biggest Barrow influences have been all of my attendings who have shared their knowledge of neurology with me.

Dr. Yvette Brown, Child Neurology Resident

New role: Traumatic Brain Injury & Sports Neurology Fellow, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona

Yvette Brown, MD

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was while taking care of a Navajo family in the inpatient setting, they made me fry bread as a gift of appreciation. The words of encouragement from my Native families were lifesavers when I was drowning in a sea of self-doubt and discouragement.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: It is going to be difficult, the most difficult thing you will have to overcome, but the patients you help and the tremendous amount of knowledge you learn is going to give you the tools to do what you want—give back to the Native American community. You have your family and whole community behind you. Make them proud!
  3. There is not one single influence but rather an accumulation of influences from all my teachers. Thank you to every attending who has offered advice or critiques to make me the best resident I could be.

Dr. Justin Hoskin, Adult Neurology Resident

New role: Neuro-Otology Fellow, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona

Photo of barrow neurology resident justin hoskin

Justin Hoskin, MD

  1. There are many memorable moments from my time at Barrow—it’s tough to make a decision. I would probably say one of the many times when tPA was given to a stroke patient, and I watched them recover from their stroke right in front of my eyes.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Remain positive, even during the rough times.
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been Dr. Terry Fife.

Dr. Klari Olenski, Child Neurology Resident

New role: Traumatic Brain Injury & Sports Neurology Fellow, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona

Klari Olenski, DO

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was the camaraderie amongst staff, residents, and fellows.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Take everything as a teachable moment, as these are your first steps to becoming a forever learner.
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been working with Dr. James Frey. More specifically—after many years—that even if the day has been long to always take time with patients, to have fun while working, and to stay true to one’s values.

Dr. Phuongthao Quan, Adult Neurology Resident

New role: Epilepsy Fellow, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas

Phuongthao Quan, MD

  1. My most memorable moments at Barrow were caring for the patients and seeing them recovered.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Enjoy the journey. Make new memories along the way.
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been my mentor, Dr. Vladimir Shvarts.

Dr. Shane Root, Adult Neurology Resident

New role: Headache Fellow, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona

photo of neurology resident shane root

Shane Root, MD

  1. My most memorable moments at Barrow were working with all of the great neurology attendings in the hospital and clinics.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Learn the nurses’ names. They can help a lot.
  3. My biggest Barrow influences have been various neurology attendings.

Dr. Liang Wang, Adult Neurology Resident

New role: Neurohospitalist, Northridge Hospital Medical Center, Los Angeles, California

photo of neurology resident liang wang

Liang Wang, MD

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was seeing a patient who had NMDA encephalitis become so sick she was considered for hospice care multiple times and return to become the person she once was.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Don’t be afraid to ask more questions; go out of your comfort zone.
  3. My biggest Barrow influences have been all of my attendings, who have all influenced me on the art of being a physician.

Neurology Fellows

Dr. Sana Aslam, DBS & Movement Disorders Fellow

New role: Movement Disorders Neurologist, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona

photo of neurology resident sana alsam

Sana Aslam, DO

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was finishing my first solo call.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: It’s going to be a steep learning curve, but there is an army of supporters helping you along the way so don’t panic!
  3. I couldn’t possibly pick a single person as my biggest Barrow influence. Every attending I have worked with at Barrow has influenced my growth and development as a neurologist and an individual. They have always been available as mentors, friends, life advisors, and teachers.

Dr. Nikesh Bajaj, Traumatic Brain Injury & Sports Neurology Fellow

Nikesh Bajaj, DO

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was being on the sidelines for Arizona State University football with Dr. Javier Cárdenas and Dr. Glynnis Zieman and getting firsthand sideline experience for evaluating concussion in athletes. One night we evaluated two players back to back, and ASU still won!
  2. If I could go back in time to my first day coming to Barrow, I’d tell myself a Mike Tyson quote I learned recently: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Sometimes we have plans and they don’t work out exactly the way we want them to. We have to keep an open mind and find other ways to get where we want to be.
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been Dr. Cárdenas and his calm and organized approach to evaluation of traumatic brain injury.

Dr. Edward Chen, Epilepsy Fellow

photo of neurology resident edward chen

Edward Chen, MD

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was being accepted to the Neurology Residency Program at Barrow.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Enjoy the journey.
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been the epilepsy department, who has guided me throughout my residency and fellowship. The entire department has taught and molded me into the doctor I am today. I am confident Barrow has prepared me for all my future endeavors.

Dr. Jennifer Heim, Pediatric Movement Disorders Fellow

New role: Pediatric Movement Disorders Neurologist, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Phoenix, Arizona

photo of child neurology resident jennifer heim

Jennifer Heim, MD

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was seeing a patient having a stroke in the emergency department with hemiplegia, giving tPA, and seeing them the next day with complete resolution of their symptoms. That was a big “wow” moment for me.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Don’t be stressed about small things that are outside of your control.
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been the wonderful group of all the attending physicians and fellow residents/fellows that I have worked with and learned from over the years, with a special “shout out” and thank you my program director, Dr. Michael Keur. After working with him years ago as a resident, I thought, “That’s the kind of doctor I would like to be.”

Dr. Bill Jacobsen, Neuromuscular Fellow

New role: Neuromuscular Diseases Neurologist, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona

photo of neurology resident bill jacobsen

Bill Jacobsen, MD

  1. After graduation, I will begin working at Barrow in the role of neuromuscular faculty.
  2. My most memorable moment at Barrow was my first resident clinic with Dr. Courtney Schusse, when I didn’t know the first thing about seeing a patient with headaches and going over the very basics of what to ask about. This was my introduction into clinical neurology.
  3. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Stay humble, and continue to ask questions that might make you look dumb.
  4. Dr. Shafeeq Ladha really took me under his wing as I started to show interest in neuromuscular neurology and especially ALS. I would not be where I am without his help and guidance.

Dr. Muhammad Osman Salim Khan, Clinical Neurophysiology Fellow

New role: Neurohospitalist, Chandler Regional Medical Center, Chandler, Arizona

Muhammad Osman Salim Khan, DO

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was working with an amazing comprehensive epilepsy team who have taught me and trained me to be a better neurologist.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: 2019 will fine, but watch out for what happens in 2020.
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been Dr. Vladimir Shvarts.

Neurosurgery Residents

The path to become a practicing neurosurgeon is long and transformative. Those who pick that path are deliberate, taking the long view in life’s journey. We are incredibly proud of our graduating chief residents and are excited for their launch into this next exciting phase of their lives. Congratulations, Drs. Bohl, Mooney, Nwojo, and Sheehy!

Dr. Francisco Ponce, Neurosurgery Residency Program Director

Dr. Michael Bohl, Neurosurgery Resident

New role: Complex Spine Surgeon, Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates, North Carolina

Michael Bohl, MD

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was the first vascularized bone flaps we did after describing these procedures in the laboratory. It was so exciting to see our laboratory work implemented in the operating room.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Enjoy every year. There is so much to do and learn, it can be overwhelming. Take time to enjoy all of it!
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been Dr. Kumar Kakarla. He has been a phenomenal mentor and friend. I’m so grateful to have had his guidance and support.

Dr. Michael Mooney, Neurosurgery Resident

New role: Neurosurgeon, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

Michael Mooney, MD

  1. My most memorable moments at Barrow were three Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim hikes.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Read and study more; you can never know enough.

Dr. Macaulay Nwojo, Neurosurgery Resident

New role: Neurosurgeon, Midland Memorial Hospital, Midland, Texas

photo of macaulay nwojo of the barrow neurosurgery residency program

Macaulay Nwojo, MD

  1. My first day of residency as well as the last day of PGY-2 residency stand out as memorable days for me. Every day at Barrow is pretty dang memorable, but those two days stand out.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Enjoy every moment of your residency like it is the last day because seven years will fly by so fast.
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been pursuing technical excellence and caring for my patient like I would treat a family member.

Dr. John Sheehy, Neurosurgery Resident

New role: Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurosurgery, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio

John Sheehy, MD

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was when, as an intern, I helped take care of a young patient with a serious traumatic brain injury who spent several weeks in the hospital. A year later, at Christmas, he came back to visit. It was tremendously rewarding to see that he was doing very well and back in school.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Imagine the kind of surgeon you would want to take care of your own family. Every day, do what it takes to become that surgeon.
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been Dr. Robert Spetzler.

Neurosurgery Fellows

Dr. Fabio Frisoli, Cerebrovascular & Skull Base Fellow

New role: Co-Director, Gerald Glasser Brain Tumor Center, Atlantic Neuroscience Institute, Overlook Medical Center, Summit, New Jersey

Fabio Frisoli, MD

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was the “Hike from Hell.”
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Embrace the tremendous research, laboratory, and clinical opportunities offered to the residents.
  3. My biggest influence at Barrow has been Dr. Michael Lawton. As my mentor, he pushed me to always think outside the box and accept challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Dr. Neil Majmundar, Endovascular Surgical Neuroradiology Fellowship

Neil Majmundar, MD

New role: Neurosurgery Resident, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was seeing a patient who had suffered from a ruptured aneurysm and long hospital course fully recover and come to the clinic with his family.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Be prepared for the Arizona summer.
  3. My biggest Barrow influences have been Dr. Felipe Albuquerque and Dr. Andrew Ducruet.

Dr. Ifije Ohiorhenuan, Spinal Neurosurgery Fellow

Ifije Ohiorhenuan, MD, PhD

New role: Assistant Professor, University of Kansas Department of Neurosurgery, Lawrence, Kansas

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was watching the prone lateral technique go from a “what if” to a viable surgical approach.
  2. My biggest influence at Barrow has been Dr. Juan Uribe.

Dr. Drew Wilkinson, Endovascular Surgical Neuroradiology Fellowship

Drew Wilkinson, MD

New role: Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was getting a picture of a patient doing well and having breakfast with his kids a month after we had treated him for a major stroke.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Soak up as much of the great case volume and experience as you can—it will go quick.
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been getting to be a part of and work with the whole vascular team—techs, nurses, residents, and attendings. Thanks, guys!

Neuroradiology Fellows

It was our pleasure to have you in the neuroradiology fellowship during your tenure here. Fellows are a vital part of neuroradiology at Barrow and are a major factor in making this a special place to practice. It is our hope that you enjoyed your time here and also found it a worthwhile educational experience. You join a wonderful legacy of previous fellows, and we have every expectation of similar success for you.

Dr. Roger Bird, Neuroradiology Fellowship Program Director

Dr. Chad Cox, Neuroradiology Fellow

Chad Cox, MD

New role: Neuroradiologist, Vulcan Imaging Associates, Birmingham, Alabama

  1. My biggest Barrow influences have been the attendings. The neuroradiology attendings are fantastic and a pleasure to work with. I have learned a lot from them and am extremely confident in my abilities after training at Barrow.

Dr. Joseph DeBartolo, Neuroradiology Fellow

Joseph DeBartolo, MD

New role: Diagnostic Radiologist, Sherman Hospital, Elgin, Illinois

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was developing camaraderie and friendships with my fellow trainees.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Stay open minded and embrace the new experiences and challenges.
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been working with dedicated staff who take pride in sharing their professional and personal experiences to help us prepare for independent practice.

Dr. Shane Mallon, Neuroradiology Fellow

Shane Mallon, MD

New role: Emergency Radiologist, University of Michigan Hospital, Ann Arbor, Michigan

 

 

Dr. Nick Matthees, Neuroradiology Fellow

Nick Matthees, MD

New role: Neuroradiologist, Methodist Hospital, St. Louis Park, Minnesota

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow, outside of the incredible neuroradiology learning, was when I got a chance to tour the Neuroscience Publications facilities. There are some amazing resources there, and the products they create are awesome.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Throughout fellowship, you’ll learn more than neuroradiology curriculum, including some of the best unexpected life lessons.
  3. My biggest Barrow influences have been all of the neuroradiology staff. They all bring unique perspectives to not only radiology but to life outside of work. The advice they’ve given me has been invaluable.

Dr. Matthew VonLoh, Neuroradioloy Fellow

Matthew VonLoh, MD

New role: Neuroradiologist, Radiology Associates of Albuquerque, Albuquerque, New Mexico

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was witnessing so many neuroradiological zebras in the wild.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Attend more multidisciplinary conferences and take more time to ask your neurosurgical colleagues about their experiences.
  3. My biggest Barrow influences have been the incredible neuroradiology attendings and staff.

Research Fellows

Dr. Bernardo de Andrada Pereira, Spinal Biomechanics Fellow

Bernardo de Andrada Pereira, MD

New role: Spine Surgery Fellow, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was earning two awards for presenting the results from our studies at spine conferences.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Do it exactly the same way again. Take the best from each day.
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been Dr. Juan Uribe.

Dr. Evgenii Belykh, Neurosurgery Research Fellow

Evgenii Belykh, MD, PhD

New role: Neurosurgery Resident, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey

  1. My most memorable moment at Barrow was the “Hike from Hell,” led by Dr. Robert Spetzler. This adventure included prickly bushes, crossing cold springs, swimming in rainfall, and running in a spectacular narrow, rocky ravine. It was mentally and physically challenging but extremely rewarding. I am grateful that such activities strengthened our friendship with fellows and residents and energized us for prolific and exciting work at Barrow. We felt that hike for a week after and will remember it forever!
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Talk to your mentors. Through their experience, they will guide you in achieving your goals. Believe in yourself, stay truthful and humble, and accept challenges!
  3. My biggest influence at Barrow has been Dr. Mark Preul, the director of Barrow Neurosurgery Research Laboratory, whose mentorship was transformative to my life. His advice and support allowed me to grow professionally to fit one of the best neurosurgery residency programs at Rutgers and helped me to advance one step closer to my dream of being a neurosurgeon-scientist. I am incredibly grateful for the gift of working in a team of great people at Barrow and being involved in groundbreaking projects that are advancing the specialty and improving patients’ lives.

Dr. Piyanat Wangsawatwong, Spinal Biomechanics Research Fellow

Piyanat Wangsawatwong

Piyanat Wangsawatwong, MD

New role: Neurosurgeon, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital/Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

  1. It is such an honor that a doctor who comes from a small developing country like me get a warm welcome from Barrow. During one year, I have joined many meetings and learned from many world authorities who inspire and drive the world of neurosurgery. These are the great opportunities that I could not find from anywhere. Though one year might not be long, I can clearly see myself in a better step of being a neurosurgeon. Last but not least, I have had a wonderful relationship that will last for a lifetime, and I just cannot thank you enough for all your kind support.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Keep learning and being patient.
  3. “Keep moving forward” is simply the best thing I have been influenced. Barrow is full of world authorities who are the best in different angles, but what I have seen from them is that they never stop learning and are always craving new challenges.

Dr. Xiaochun Zhao, Neurosurgery Research Fellow

Xiaochun Zhao, MD

New role: Neurosurgery Resident, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

  1. My most memorable moments at Barrow were every day spent in the lab working with all the fellows and mentors.
  2. If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger version of myself on my first day coming to Barrow, it would be: Stay away from the heat and take more water.
  3. My biggest Barrow influence has been being a part of the Barrow family.
Please note: This list does not include all 2020 Barrow graduates. While every graduate was invited to participate, only those who responded were included in this article.

About Barrow Neurological Institute
Since our doors opened as a regional specialty center in 1962, we have grown into one of the premier destinations in the world for neurology and neurosurgery. Our experienced, highly skilled, and comprehensive team of neurological specialists can provide you with a complete spectrum of care–from diagnosis through outpatient neurorehabilitation–under one roof. Barrow Neurological Institute: Discover. Educate. Heal.