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2025

Class of 2025

Ryan Bennion, DO

Medical School

Kansas City University

Hometown

Lehi, Utah

Why Kaweah Health?

Great place to train with lots of pathology, great faculty, awesome co-residents

Why did you choose Emergency Medicine?

I enjoy the work. Rotations in an office put me to sleep. Good balance of hours as an attending.

Hobbies/Family

I have too many, but working on cars and motorcycles is a favorite

What is the most important advice you have for patients?

Eat healthier, move a little more and try and improve each day. Lifestyle changes are difficult, but little changes amount to large results over time.

What advice do you have for a student who would like to become a physician one day?

Talk to people at each stage, i.e., an undergrad about to take the MCAT, a medical student, a resident and an attending. Get a feel for what it takes and how perspectives seem to change throughout the process. Shadow docs and have fun!

Who influenced you to become a physician and why?

My dad. He is an RN in the NICU at Primary Children’s in UT. I always wanted to know as much as he does. I wanted to emulate his poise in emergencies.


Christine Do, DO

Medical School

Touro University Nevada

Hometown

Los Altos, California

Why Kaweah Health?

I rotated here as a medical student, and I loved it. The residents seemed genuinely happy, and the faculty was supportive and dedicated to teaching. I was also impressed with the robust training that comes from a high-volume, high-acuity ED with such a large catchment area and diverse underserved patient population.

Why did you choose Emergency Medicine?

The breadth of the field, the mixture of medicine and procedural skills, and the opportunity to treat patients at their most vulnerable moments.

Hobbies/Family

Hiking, snowboarding, music, cooking, reading, exploring coffee shops, board games

What is the most important advice you have for patients?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be proactive with your health.

What advice do you have for a student who would like to become a physician one day?

Follow your passion. Find out what drives you and remind yourself of this motivation as you embark on your journey.

What is something about you most people do not know?

When I was first learning how to snowboard, I accidentally went down a black diamond… and survived to tell the tale.


Kristel Hallsson, MD

Medical School

University of Washington

Hometown

Snohomish, Washington

Why Kaweah Health?

I wanted a community EM program that had a ‘close knit’ feel, and after a fantastic interview, I was hooked!

Why did you choose Emergency Medicine?

I love the controlled chaos of emergency medicine, where everyday is new and unexpected, and you get to encounter people from all walks of life.

Hobbies/Family

Hanging out with my 2 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, running, sleeping, and singing loud in the car with the windows down.

What is the most important advice you have for patients?

Never be afraid to advocate for yourself – your healthcare goals are very important.

What advice do you have for a student who would like to become a physician one day?

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” - Earl Nightingale

Who influenced you to become a physician and why?

The soldiers I was in Afghanistan with that didn’t make it home, because they should have.

What is something about you most people do not know?

I played tenor saxophone in band for 7 years.


Matthew Ishiki, MD

Medical School

UCLA

Hometown

Kapa’a, Hawaii

Why Kaweah Health?

I chose Kaweah Health because of my interest in community and rural medicine. The hospital sees a wide range of patient types and serves a large population. I feel that I will receive great training here seeing a wide variety of patients and problems while also getting the opportunity to work with expert faculty of Vituity partners.

Why did you choose Emergency Medicine?

Fast pace work environment, good mix of medicine and procedures, great work/life balance.

Hobbies/Family

Cooking, learning, eating, and pretty much everything outdoors.

What is the most important advice you have for patients?

Good health starts at home. Living a happy and healthy lifestyle at home can help to prevent many health issues and even eliminate the need for many medications in the future.

What advice do you have for a student who would like to become a physician one day?

Know what you are getting in to, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, and don’t be discouraged if there are failures along the way.

Who influenced you to become a physician and why?

My wonderful wife!


Mitra Jefic, DO

Medical School

Rocky Vista University - Colorado

Hometown

Las Vegas, NV

Why Kaweah Health?

Kaweah’s ED has a diverse patient population with many high acuity cases and traumas. The ultrasound program seems to well prepare residents for current practice. Even more importantly, the people at Kaweah are very supportive and want the residents to be happy and succeed.

Why did you choose Emergency Medicine?

I was a scribe in the ED in college, and I absolutely fell in love with Emergency Medicine. I love the fast-paced environment and the fact that you never know what your day will bring.

Hobbies/Family

CrossFit, powerlifting, hiking, snowboarding

What is the most important advice you have for patients?

Focus on your overall health and disease prevention with things like exercise and proper nutrition.

What advice do you have for a student who would like to become a physician one day?

The road to medicine can be difficult and daunting, but it is also extremely rewarding. The friends and mentors you meet along the way will be your biggest allies.

Who influenced you to become a physician and why?

My parents always emphasized academics, especially math and science. My dad is an engineer and my mom was a nurse, and they were always extremely supportive of my career choices. My grandpa in Serbia developed diabetes during the war, and I grew up seeing the negative health consequences he had due to lack of medical care. I knew I wanted to have a hand in healthcare, and he has been my biggest advocate.

What is something about you most people do not know?

I was born in former Yugoslavia and moved to the US during the war.


Elise Kahn, DO

Medical School

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine - Auburn

Hometown

Birmingham, AL

Why Kaweah Health?

The camaraderie and good vibes, patient population, diversity, and training opportunities.

Why did you choose Emergency Medicine?

It encapsulates everything I want in a physician’s career, without feeling like a job.

Hobbies/Family

Everything outdoorsy

What is the most important advice you have for patients?

Beware of Dr. Google

What advice do you have for a student who would like to become a physician one day?

You must truly want it, to make all the sacrifices worth it


Max Klahr, MD

Medical School

University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson

Hometown

Tucson, AZ

Why Kaweah Health?

I interviewed with Kaweah because I grew up with family in the area and always loved the Central Valley. During the interview, I instantly felt at home and knew I’d be happy here.

Why did you choose Emergency Medicine?

During med school I could never decide on what specialty or patient population I liked the most, and with emergency I don’t have to! I get to see it all and know each day will be unique.

Hobbies/Family

I enjoy eating, woodworking, blacksmithing, homebrewing, cooking, eating, hiking and going to concerts!

What is the most important advice you have for patients?

Advocate for yourself and your needs, if your doctor knows what you are hoping to get out if an encounter then it makes it easier to reach that goal together.

What advice do you have for a student who would like to become a physician one day?

My advice for a hopeful physician is to make sure you are in it for the right reasons, and as long as you are, don’t give up. There is no single perfect path to becoming a physician, and all that matters at the end of the day is you getting there and being happy with what you do.

What is something about you most people do not know?

I once road on the Matterhorn at Disneyland with Nick Cannon


Joseph Lewis, MD

Medical School

University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Hometown

Santa Maria, CA

Why Kaweah Health?

Kaweah Health provides an opportunity to work in a busy Central Valley hospital. I am excited to care for the people of the Visalia area and the unique challenges and opportunities this presents.

Why did you choose Emergency Medicine?

EM is constantly growing and evolving. Having the ability to learn all aspects of medicine, and constantly challenge myself with new information and knowledge, are only some reasons why I chose this specialty.

Hobbies/Family

I love cooking! I try to learn at least two new recipes a week. I also enjoy team-building sports and video games, and playing with my dog Duncan.

What is the most important advice you have for patients?

Being an active member of your care team is key. Be sure to ask your care team any questions you have about any treatments, plans, or reasoning behind their care choices. We are all in this together!

What advice do you have for a student who would like to become a physician one day?

Never give up on the dream. Life will put obstacles in your path, and the road to becoming a physician can be daunting. With enough hard work, dedication, and commitment, you can reach your goal and then some.

Who influenced you to become a physician and why?

My mentors in medicine – Dr. Susan Ziemba, who helped me along each step of the way since my youth. My two emergency medicine mentors, Dr. Paul Webber and Dr. Paul Dimodica, who gave me the motivation and encouragement to pursue medicine.

What is something about you most people do not know?

I am a huge fan of movies. I have watched every Oscar nominated film each year for the past 10 years.


Alvin Li, DO

Medical School

Touro University - California

Hometown

Oakland, California

Why Kaweah Health?

Location, experience during audition rotation

Why did you choose Emergency Medicine?

Prior experience as EMT and ER tech

Hobbies/Family

Wilderness survival, music, coffee

What is the most important advice you have for patients?

Advocate for yourself and understand what is being done and why. If something seems confusing or unclear, ask your physician!

What advice do you have for a student who would like to become a physician one day?

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t take care of people if you don’t take care of yourself.

Who influenced you to become a physician and why?

Dr. Jeff Chien who was always kind and taught me that you always look out for “people first.”

What is something about you most people do not know?

I have a scar from a machete wound


Kai Meassick, DO

Medical School

AZCOM

Hometown

Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin

Why Kaweah Health?

I love how involved Kaweah is in the community and the clear commitment to service.

Why did you choose Emergency Medicine?

I’m the sort of person who likes to know a little bit about everything, the kid in school who had 5 favorite subjects instead of 1 and med school was no different. I wanted a specialty that would allow me to explore whatever part of medicine interested me rather than being restricted to one niche. I love never knowing what is going to walk through the door next and seeing everyone from babies to grandma with every illness you can imagine.

Hobbies/Family

Cooking, Gardening, Baking, Hiking, Camping

What is the most important advice you have for patients?

Prevention > treating problems. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

What advice do you have for a student who would like to become a physician one day?

If you think you could be happy doing ANYTHING else, then go do that and then decide if medicine is for you. The road to becoming a physician is hard. You will miss holidays, birthdays, family time that you cannot get back. So be sure. But if medicine is for you all the stress, sleepless nights, nights/weekends/holidays spent working will be worth it. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but there’s no place I’d rather be.

Who influenced you to become a physician and why?

My high school psychology teacher.

What is something about you most people do not know?

I am very interested in regenerative and sustainable agriculture, the local food movement
and have a bachelor’s in agriculture from one of the largest agricultural schools in the country.


Elisa Quince, DO

Medical School

William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine

Hometown

Fresno, CA

Why Kaweah Health?

I choose Kaweah Health because have a heart for the people of the Central Valley where I grew up. Also, I felt comfortable that I would get great training/support from the inspiring leadership of my program with amazing hands-on experience.

Why did you choose Emergency Medicine?

I choose Emergency Medicine because it allowed me to not only be there for my patients during some of their most difficult times and the opportunity to practice everything I loved about medicine.

Hobbies/Family

Dance, running, watching tv and playing music

What is the most important advice you have for patients?

If you are worried about a problem either reach out to your provider and/or go to get it checked out.

What advice do you have for a student who would like to become a physician one day?

No matter how difficult the journey or how current circumstances look; never stop pursuing your dream of practicing medicine. Anything is possible if you believe.

Who influenced you to become a physician and why?

After college, I was influenced to become a physician while working as a medical scribe in an emergency department. The many different providers, from nurses to doctors, shared their stories. They helped me learn that I wanted to be a part of healthcare and determine what role I hoped to play in the team providing care to patients.

What is something about you most people do not know?

I played bass drum in my high school drumline.


Christian Vazquez, MD

Medical School

Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Hometown

Delhi, California

Why Kaweah Health?

I chose Kaweah Health because I wanted to be surrounded by fun, compassionate, like-minded individuals who are excited to work with a diverse, underserved community. Interacting with residents and faculty, I felt a genuine connection between them and felt so welcomed to join. I grew up not far from Visalia, so it is only natural to feel it is an extension of home. As a bonus, I will be in a great location to explore the Sierras and the surrounding natural beauty.

Why did you choose Emergency Medicine?

I chose to specialize in Emergency Medicine because of the wide range of complaints and acuity I will be able to see, the fast-paced, dynamic environment, and being able to work with my hands and perform procedures. Also crucial for me was to be part of the safety net of a community by being able to care for anyone and everyone who comes into the emergency department, regardless of their background.

Hobbies/Family

Cooking/baking, bike riding, hiking, weightlifting, music events, videogames, gardening

What is the most important advice you have for patients?

Be your own advocate! While healthcare providers, of course, also plan to advocate for you, you are the expert on what you need most. Express your goals and concerns and ask as many questions as needed to feel reassured, educated, and in safe hands.

What advice do you have for a student who would like to become a physician one day?

Like a mentor once said to me: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! The path to becoming a physician is a marathon, and it is challenging for everyone. There will be a lot of firsts, and with these come setbacks and feeling out of your comfort zone. The key is to keep your goal in mind and take it one step at a time. Do not compare yourself to peers; instead, surround yourself with those who will keep rooting for you.