Internal Medicine

Resident Narratives


Dr. Matthew Balatbat Profile Image

Dr. Matthew Balatbat

Medical School: Ross University School of Medicine

Hometown: Paramus, NJ

Clinical Interests: Nephrology, Critical Care, Primary Care, Healthcare Equality

Hobbies: Cooking, Guitar, Hiking, Woodworking

"I chose to rank Mountainside Medical Center at the top of my list because of the family atmosphere that comes from a smaller residency program. Residency is no doubt a stressful and trying time, but since my interview day here, I have been able to witness how the entire program - from the Program Director down – values mental wellness. We learn that a competent physician not only remains current with medical knowledge, but also is also emotionally and mentally well. The non-malignant environment provides a great background for learning how to treat our very diverse patient population in northern New Jersey. I grew up not too far from Mountainside, and it is an honor to be able to help heal my community, especially during this COVID pandemic. Following residency, I plan on fellowship in Nephrology. I would love to eventually settle down in the New York-New Jersey area with a mix of inpatient and outpatient work."

Medical Chief Resident Dr. Arham Hazari Profile Image

Medical Chief Resident Dr. Arham Hazari

Medical School: NYIT- College of Osteopathic Medicine

Hometown: Teaneck, NJ

Clinical Interests: Pulmonary/Critical Care

Hobbies: Using my DO background to give free back adjustments to my colleagues

"Mountainside maintains an environment of camaraderie that is unique to this facility. This allows for better coordination between providers which ultimately optimizes patient care. When I rotated with the Internal Medical residents as a medical student, I found that this program was very different from my experiences with other residencies. Mountainside's Internal Medicine program has many opportunities for learning, hands-on experience, and building relationships with mentors. I saw this program as the perfect place for growing into a physician after completing medical school. After graduation I would love to travel the world!"

Dr. Carlos Huauya Leuyacc Profile Image

Dr. Carlos Huauya Leuyacc

Medical School: Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima Peru

Hometown: Lima, Peru

Clinical Interests: Chronic Kidney Disease, Preventive medicine and Autoimmune diseases

Hobbies: Movies, Art, Literature and Comics

"Mountainside Medical Center is a great place to train. What I like the most about the program is the faculty because they are invested in our growth as professionals, and they provide us with all the resources to excel in our career. We can develop long-lasting relationships with our mentors and colleagues who support us along residency. The patient population is diverse which contributes to the number of conditions that we see on our daily practice. After graduation, I plan to stay in the area and be part of an Internal Medicine practice."

Medical Chief Resident Dr. Mengshan Lin Profile Image

Medical Chief Resident Dr. Mengshan Lin

Medical School: National Defense Medical Center

Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan

Clinical Interests: Pulmonology and Critical Care

Hobbies: Running, Musicals, Wine tasting, Dog and cat sitting

"First of all, I love that the program is close to New York City. It also has a great fellowship match, they produce great physicians, the curriculum is very educational and hands on, but most importantly, the camaraderie is unmatched. The residents and staff here are all so friendly and make me look forward to coming to work every day. After graduation I will be applying for fellowship in Pulmonology and Critical Care."

Dr. Tochi Mbolu Profile Image

Dr. Tochi Mbolu

Medical School: Windsor University School of Medicine

Hometown: Aba, Nigeria

Clinical Interests: Community Outreach

Hobbies: Going to the gym, hiking, wining and dining

"At the age of seven, I immigrated from Nigeria to USA with my family. I have lived in Roselle, NJ for most of my life. When I was applying for residency there was no doubt that I wanted to stay close to home. I wanted a close knit residency program that provided a safe work environment to learn. Mountainside has allowed me to work with a culturally diverse group of extremely driven and accomplished colleagues who constantly motivate me. These are strenuous yet pivotal years of our life and I am thankful to be in a program that helps optimize overall wellness. My post graduate plans include opening a practice with my siblings who are also physicians – I envision caring for diverse patients at the Mbolu Medical Group!"

Dr. Dhara Patel Profile Image

Dr. Dhara Patel

Medical School: St. George’s University

Hometown: Old Bridge , NJ

Clinical Interests: Primary care , Preventative medicine, Continuity of Care

Hobbies: Kickboxing, Taekwondo (2nd degree black belt), painting

"I chose Mountainside mainly for the approachability of the faculty and the emphasis the program places on our individual education. I was initially struck by how our Program Director and leadership team truly care about the wellbeing of the residents and are invested in shaping us into the best physicians we can be. Our hospital is big enough to give good exposure to a variety of disease processes, but small enough to feel like we are part of the community here. My favorite part of the program is the warm, inviting atmosphere here that is optimal for these few years of rigorous training. I am confident I will be prepared to work in either the inpatient or outpatient settings after residency, as we get quality education on both fronts. I couldn't have asked for a better program!"

Dr. Armida Priftani Profile Image

Dr. Armida Priftani

Medical School: University of Medicine Tirana, Albania

Hometown: Elbasan, Albania

Clinical Interests: Women’s Health

Hobbies: Cooking healthy food, Painting, Spending time with family (especially with my daughter who is the cutest in the world)

"What I love about the program is the diversity. I was impressed with both the quality of the program, and how our Program Director and leadership team truly care about the well-being of the residents. After graduation I plan on to travel the world and ultimately go into outpatient practice."

Dr. Soroush Seifirad Profile Image

Dr. Soroush Seifirad

Medical School: Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Post Doc Research Fellowship at Harvard

Hometown: Tehran

Clinical Interests: Cardiology, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

Hobbies: Playing piano and some other instruments, swimming, hiking and traveling, books

"Montclair is an ideal town, a vibrant, diverse suburban environment while being just a half an hour away from Manhattan, where I can enjoy culture and art and have fun at the weekends. I have always been in huge programs -Tabriz, Tehran, Baylor and Harvard. I wanted to experience a different atmosphere and feel at home while working with a small team that I know by my heart. What I like about the Internal Medicine program at Mountainside is the open door policy of the leaders, diversity of the patients, the ambulatory block clinic schedule, and feeling at home with my family that always supports me. In the long run, I would like to become a physician scientist, and hope to pursue fellowship, probably in Cardiology."


Dr. Emad Alatassi Profile Image

Dr. Emad Alatassi

Medical School: Al Neelain University Faculty of Medicine, Sudan

Hometown: Homs, Berkeley

Clinical Interests: Critical Care

Hobbies: Traveling and electro-mechanical engineering

"I chose Mountainside because of the diversity and the warm family atmosphere. We are a small program and know each other well. I love how when we gather, we have Middle Eastern Hummus, Desi Biryani, Nigerian Jollof rice along with the Pizza and Burritos all on the same table. Medicine is my passion but I also love traveling and electro-mechanical engineering. To combine all my hobbies together; I recently obtained a van that I work on in my spare time. My hope is to fully customize and upgrade it to a full-off-grid 4x4 monster vehicle and drive it to Utqiagvik in Alaska; the northern most community in the United States. I am working on my Critical Care fellowship application and I believe this program will prepare me very well for it."

Dr. Shadi Gad Profile Image

Dr. Shadi Gad

Medical School: Tanta University School of Medicine

Hometown: Tanta, Egypt

Clinical Interests: Hematology/Oncology, drug development, medical devices

Hobbies: Hiking, Walking, Cooking and Reading

"I appreciate being part of the Mountainside Medical Center Internal Medicine Residency Program. We are provided with many educational opportunities every day. The program focuses on making residents strong in an academic and clinical environment. There is unique diversity among residents, faculty and staff. Everyone has their own story that is special and makes the whole group stronger. The leadership and the faculty support the residents in every possible way. It is so nice to belong to a place where you are taken care of. In my spare time, I like to take walks listening to audio books about history. I started to play the piano but I still need a lot more practice – hopefully I will be able to play when we resume our hospital talent show! I am planning to apply for Hematology/Oncology fellowship after graduating from the program."

Dr. Francine Lucero Profile Image

Dr. Francine Lucero

Medical School: Cebu Institute of Medicine

Hometown: Cebu, Philippines

Clinical Interests: Pulmonology, Cardiology

Hobbies: Running, Yoga, Traveling

"The program’s staff and leadership have been incredibly kind and supportive to the residents. Great balance of excellent clinical training and quality of life, too. I also really liked the overall organization of the residency program with the 6+2 block schedule (three 2-week inpatient blocks followed by 2 weeks of ambulatory). After graduation I will most likely go for fellowship, either Pulmonology or Cardiology."

Dr. Huzaifa Salim Profile Image

Dr. Huzaifa Salim

Medical School: University of Medical Sciences and Technology

Hometown: Mazroub, North Kurdufan, Sudan

Clinical Interests: Cardiology and Public Health

Hobbies: Running and Sudanese music

"I chose Mountainside because I was looking a program that will take me to other side of the mountain in my career. It had the perfect balanced mix of highly intelligent mentorship, diverse staff and an enriching sense of family and friendship. What I like most about the program is that it doesn’t matter where you are from, there is a place for you and your heritage here. After graduation, I’m hoping to fulfill my dream of becoming an Interventional Cardiologist."

Dr. Saira Sheikh Profile Image

Dr. Saira Sheikh

Medical School: Ziauddin University

Hometown: Karachi, Pakistan

Clinical Interests: Care, Endocrinology and Integrative Medicine

Hobbies: audible books, eating my weight in desi food (biryani is love!), binge-watching Pakistani TV shows, and keeping my curious four-year-old son out of trouble (almost always failing)

"I chose Mountainside Medical Center because of the sense of family and togetherness displayed by the faculty, administration, and residents. I am truly honored and privileged to have been included to work among this wonderful team." After graduation, I see myself working in primary care with a profound interest in Integrative Medicine. My mantra is, “The doctor of the future will give no medication but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease”—Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931).”"

Dr. Syed Uzair Profile Image

Dr. Syed Uzair

Medical School: Quiad e Azam Medical College

Hometown: Palmdale, CA

Clinical Interests: Hospital Medicine

Hobbies: Hiking, Cooking, Playing and Watching Cricket

"I got the sense during my interview that how supportive the program will be, and the interview day was very well organized. Mountainside has provided me opportunity to work with a culturally diverse group of amazing colleagues with whom I have been learning every day. I have already made lifelong friends here in short amount of time and it is fun to be challenged academically. The Program Director, attendings, staff and faculty are extremely supportive and provide a great platform to become a better physician. I think the training I am getting here with the diverse patient population will help me tremendously in my future practice of Hospitalist Medicine."

Dr. Tehrim Zahid Profile Image

Dr. Tehrim Zahid

Medical School: King Edward Medical University, Lahore Pakistan

Hometown: Pakistan

Clinical Interests: Pulmonary/Critical Care, Academic Medicine

Hobbies: Fashion designing

"I chose Mountainside because of the welcoming and friendly environment that it has to offer. On the day of my interview, I was impressed with the program's emphasis on resident wellness and education. The strength of this program lies in its connectedness and support system. It's an extremely clinically orientated program that aligns with my goals and values. I know that this is the place that will help me grow up as an independent and competent clinician. I am glad that I moved to an amazing and culturally diverse city with a lot of fun things to do with my kids in my free time."

Dr. Qamar Zaman Profile Image

Dr. Qamar Zaman

Medical School: Latin American School of Medicine (Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina)

Hometown: East Rutherford

Clinical Interests: Primary Care

Hobbies: Fish keeping

"I am a Pakistani who studied medicine in Cuba and ended up here in NJ where I am living in an environment of multiculturalism and friendliness. The most important aspect of the Internal Medicine program at Hackensack Meridian Mountainside Medical Center is that it’s a small program and we residents are a family, it is diverse and inclusive - based on mutual respect and excellence in our profession. I would like to go into primary care, however previous residents have done fellowships in different subspecialties so it’s good to know that the possibility of fellowship is always there."


Dr. Vanessa Castellanos Profile Image

Dr. Vanessa Castellanos

Medical School: UNIBE School of Medicine

Hometown: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Clinical Interests: Rheumatology, Autoimmune diseases, Infectious Disease, GI and Preventive medicine

Hobbies: Watching movies and tv shows, reading, photography, soccer, travelling, trying new cuisines and learning from new cultures.

I chose Mountainside for many reasons. One of them being the closeness between everyone in the program. This was immediately perceived on interview day. It really did feel like they were a family and I can say now that this is very much true. It is a small program, where every individual has an opportunity to stand out and where everybody goes by their first names. I wanted a program that saw me both as a resident and person and that invested time on my individual path towards my professional growth. MMC is a place that is evolving every day. It is a program that listens to their residents and changes if necessary to meet these demands. It is a program where wellness is encouraged as well as professional and educational competency. Mountainside is a close-knit community in the beautiful, quaint town Montclair. I also liked this town and the fact that it is only a 30 minute drive from the city.

Dr. Khush Dadhania Profile Image

Dr. Khush Dadhania

Medical School: GMERS Medical College and Hospital Sola

Hometown: Pleasanton, CA

Clinical Interests: Cardiology, Gastroenterology

Hobbies: Playing soccer, cricket, watching movies and TV shows, travelling, hiking, playing video games

Mountainside is a small residency program that ensures close camaraderie between co-residents as well as with the attendings. We get to know each other in and out and share all moments of happiness together. People here are so supportive that you feel at home from day one. There is always an opportunity for personal as well as professional growth. I love how diverse and welcoming the Mountainside community is, and we as residents feel inspired while working as a team. I am grateful for all the learning opportunities that come every day, and I look forward to much more that is yet to be discovered throughout my years of residency here at the Mountainside.

Dr. Edwin Gomez Profile Image

Dr. Edwin Gomez

Medical School: Universidad Catolica Nordestana (UCNE)

Hometown: Salcedo, Dominican Republic

Clinical Interests: Cardiovascular diseases, social medicine and equality, hematological conditions

Hobbies: Working out, running, traveling, cooking

I chose Mountainside because of the close relationship portrayed between residents and faculty, along with the endeavor, time and enthusiasm for teaching and last but not least, the location of the hospital provides such a great learning opportunity in all different areas of medicine.

Dr. Ayesha Malik Profile Image

Dr. Ayesha Malik

Medical School: CMH Lahore Medical College and Institute of Dentistry

Hometown: Bayonne, NJ

Clinical Interests: Primary Care, Endocrinology

Hobbies: Reading, painting, watching movies

Mountainside is a close-knit program that provides a healthy environment where residents are able to grow and learn. The program offers great training and support that translates into excellent patient care as well as overall resident wellbeing. I feel very fortunate to be a part of a diverse and devoted team where our mentors are invested in our growth as capable physicians as well as compassionate individuals.

Dr. Chika Mbolu Profile Image

Dr. Chika Mbolu

Medical School: Windsor University School of medicine

Hometown: Anambra, Nigeria

Clinical Interests: Rheumatology

Hobbies: Cooking, watching movies, trying new restaurants

I chose Mountainside because of the camaraderie between the residents. This was my most pleasant, funny and comfortable interview. Friendly attendings' and senior residents that are willing to teach and provide guidance.

Dr. Vishal Ramjas Profile Image

Dr. Vishal Ramjas

Medical School: Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina (ELAM)

Hometown: Herstelling, Guyana

Clinical Interests: Cardiovascular Disease, Critical Care

Hobbies: Fitness, hiking, modifying my car, travelling, mix martial arts.

During the Match interviewing season, the most intimidating aspect is not knowing if you will match into a program that is academically focused and fully advocates for a dynamic, goal directed and supportive environment for their residents. This was clearly evident from Day 1 of my interview with the current residents and faculty which compelled me to rank Mountainside Medical Center as #1. Being here has being the best medical decision I have made, surrounded not by colleagues but more like family.

Dr. Simar Randhawa Profile Image

Dr. Simar Randhawa

Medical School: British West Indies SOM

Hometown: Hackensack, NJ

Clinical Interests: Cardiovascular Disease, Preventive Medicine

Hobbies: Spending time with family, fitness, music

I chose Hackensack Meridian Mountainside Medical Center because of the inviting and kind culture among the residents and faculty. I knew I would learn to be a highly compassionate and competent clinician at this academic program.

Dr. Hiwot Workneh Profile Image

Dr. Hiwot Workneh

Medical School: Jimma University

Hometown: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Clinical Interests: Endocrinology, In-patient care

Hobbies: Spending time with family, Cooking

Since I embarked upon this long journey of pursuing residency in the US, Mountainside medical center was always my number one choice. I moved to the US a few years ago to this very place and always wanted to do my residency in a place where I can get great hands-on experience while being around my family. Mountainside medical center residency program provides a unique opportunity to learn a practical clinical skill of diverse medical cases with a favorable and pleasant academic atmosphere. The faculty members are professional and very approachable who truly made us feel like our second home here.

Preliminary PGY-1

Dr. Jamel Dahim Profile Image

Dr. Jamel Dahim

Medical School: Sana'a University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Hometown: Sana'a, Yemen

Clinical Interests: Primary Care, Preventive Medicine, Occupational Medicine

Hobbies: Reading, playing chess, watching movies, swimming, walking, and listening to Arabic music

I chose the Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside because the program is an excellent learning opportunity that is offered to many up-and-coming physicians. Since starting, I have met incredibly inspiring mentors and residents. I am surrounded by a vibrant community of clinicians, scholars, and educators who are striving for the same sense of equity, improvement and excellence in their own areas of interest have enjoyed the rotations as they have allowed me to expand my experience in medicine. The people that I have met have been nothing but welcoming and supportive. They provide the best productive and positive feedback that inspires me to become a good physician. After I graduate, I plan to use this experience in the future to provide medical practice as a Primary Care Physician.

Dr. Venkat Thungathurthi Profile Image

Dr. Venkat Thungathurthi

Medical School: Mamata Medical college

Hometown: Hyderabad, India

Clinical Interests: Primary care, Administrative Medicine

Hobbies: Playing Cricket, Watching movies and TV, traveling

Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside is a program that strives to create an excellent environment for learning and growth. Everyone, from the program director, attendings, residents to the hospital staff are very approachable and personally invested in making each other thrive in their respective roles. As a resident, I have always felt encouraged to ask questions and get help when needed. The support and mentorship I have received from the program director and the attendings have motivated me to do and be my best every day. The Mountainside community quickly becomes your family with the common goal to give the best patient care possible.