Tulane IM Residency

Associate Program Directors

The Tulane Team is divided into five firms, each named for the first five chairs of medicine from 1837 to 1981: Ray, Burch, Musser, Elliott, Mackey. Each firm has its own chief resident, its own concierge mentor, and its own associate program director. So in addition to having Dr. Wiese as your head coach, you will also have three “assistant coaches” to ensure that your personal and professional lives are perfectly on trajectory.

The role of the associate program director is to be your personal coach.  The concierge mentor will take care of hooking you up with the right research mentor and project, and your personal chief resident will help you work within your firm to design the curriculum you need to advance your career to your personal Point B. Your associate program director, however, will be working with your firm to oversee your firm’s quality improvement project (targeting one of our five vulnerable patient populations), and is your liaison to the clinical competency committee, which assesses where you are in your development along the clinical milestones. Most importantly, the role of your associate program director is to be your advocate, and to be the person who will take the time to give you honest and constructive feedback. His or her role is to work with you in developing strategic growth plans to ensure you always stay on track for being the exceptional physician that is the imprimatur of the Tulane resident. There is not program that gives as much attention to person-to-person coaching like Tulane!

Meet your assistant coach below….

Chad Miller

Chad Miller, MD

Senior Associate Program Director, Burch Firm
Medical Student Clerkship Director

I came to New Orleans for medical school and have stayed to make a life.  There is something truly special about the people who find their way to New Orleans and Tulane.  I noticed it in the internal medicine residency program when I was just a medical student.  Tulane attracts quality people to its residency.  The severity of disease, types of disease and, most importantly, the diversity of people makes for fertile soil for the growth and development of outstanding clinicians. But of all of these great attributes, nothing was as compelling as the type of person that was attracted to, and joined the Tulane team. The program seeks individuals with a moral compass… people who see life as something bigger than them. And having found that direction, this team makes life-changing contributions to the people of New Orleans each and every day. We empower, and in doing so, find ourselves fulfilled. The medical care is exceptional: delivered with the highest degree of kindness and dignity, regardless of creed, color, or ability to pay. I am here because I believe in the people and the mission.

In addition to caring for the patients of New Orleans, my job is to make outstanding physicians.  Teaching medical students and residents is a sacred responsibility.  Nearly 50 internal medicine residents and 200 medical students graduate from Tulane Medical School every year.  Each resident and student will ultimately care for thousands of patients in her career.   The impact is exponential. Teaching is so important that, in his oath, Hippocrates made it our first responsibility as physicians.  It is truly an honor and a privilege to dedicate my career to this end and work with such outstanding faculty, residents, and students at Tulane.

I first heard Dr. Wiese describe medical teaching as “clinical coaching” nearly 10 years ago and it made a profound impact on me.  I saw the connection immediately - my father is a football and baseball coach and I am a former college baseball player.  The “apprenticeship” of the clinical clerkships and residency training fit perfectly into the “coaching” paradigm.  Fostering teamwork, giving routine formative feedback, and motivating students and residents are key elements to being an effective academic clinician.  These same elements are even more important as course director, clerkship director, or program director.  It is under the guidance of Dr. Wiese that I have refined my clinical coaching and honed my approach to clinical education.  He has greatly influenced me on how to coach professionalism, clinical reasoning, and medical decision making, which lie at the heart of internal medicine and Tulane’s Internal Medicine Residency Program. 

My clinical time is spent as an Academic Hospitalist at the Medical Center of Louisiana – New Orleans (Charity Hospital).   The patients are truly exceptional in pathology and spirit.   I am fortunate to work along side like-minded attending physicians, residents, nurses, and staff that share the Charity Hospital Mission. We provide outstanding care of some of the most complex and challenging medical cases in New Orleans.   George Burch, MD, former Chairman of the Tulane Department of Medicine summarized the spirit of training at Charity best, “What made Charity?  I think it’s because people really took care of people.  That is what medicine is all about, people taking care of people, not an institution taking care of people. If [you] could practice medicine at Charity Hospital, [you] could practice anywhere in the world.”

My administrative and teaching roles include the Senior Associate Program Director (APD) for the Residency and the Director of Student Programs.   I am also in charge of teaching other physicians, including residents, how to teach.  I trained with Kelley Skeff, MD, PhD at Stanford and I am a certified facilitator of the Stanford Faculty Development Program, which is the gold standard of “how to teach doctors to teach.”

As the APD, or coach, for the Burch Firm, named after the former chairman, it is my role to check-in with the Burch Firm residents and make sure they are on track to meet their career goals. It is my duty that the firm that bears the name of Dr. Burch adheres to the high standards he set for the department.  I am personally responsible for giving feedback and being available for anything that might come up for residents and interns.  I advise on the annual quality improvement project, which is designed by Burch Residents to facilitate systems change to improve the medical care of our patients.  Finally, my influence extends beyond the Burch Firm to the whole residency program as Chair of the Clinical Competency Committee, which is responsible for implementing the new ACGME competencies and milestones. 

My other major administrative role is serving as the Director of Student Programs. Similar to the residency, the students have an afternoon curriculum, which I teach, known as Clerkship School.  Based on the Friday School concept for residents, the clerkship students meet once a week to discuss four to five detailed patient cases.  Clerkship School fosters group learning and encourages coaching between students.  It is designed to refine clinical reasoning and promote understanding of medical decisions in internal medicine.  I routinely invite residents interested in a career in medical education team up with me to teach the student curriculum.  It is a unique opportunity for residents to get formal teaching experience (and some personal feedback from me). 

This is just a snapshot of what I do and some of the things that take place at Tulane everyday. If Tulane sounds like a place for you, or you want to know more, please do not hesitate to contact me.  If you are interested, we’ll make you a great physician and teacher. I promise.

Chad S. Miller, MD, FACP, FHM

Catherine Jones

Catherine Jones, MD

Associate Program Director, Mackey Firm
Primary Care Track Director

After finishing medical school at Tulane, I initially left to pursue residency elsewhere. I soon realized that the qualities I took for granted among our Tulane residents--their leadership abilities, their deep sense of responsibility for their patients and each other, and their strong sense of a larger mission-- were indeed unique to the Tulane medicine residency program. I decided to return home to New Orleans because I wanted to be a part of that inspiring group of people. I have never looked back. To this day, I feel lucky and grateful to work with residents and faculty who consistently go the extra mile for our patients, who constantly seek to improve the way systems of care work in our community, and who have a great time with each other day in and day out.

I'm fortunate to have the ability to work with our residents in a variety of settings. On the hospitalist service at University Hospital, we take pride in our ability to provide top-notch care to any patient who comes through our doors, regardless of insurance status, immigration status, ability to pay, or anything else. Tulane residents begin making decisions on day one: our residents truly lead these teams.  

Since I also oversee the ambulatory curriculum, our Primary Care Track, and the Inter-clinic Council (which runs the multitude of student-run free clinics at Tulane) I also get to work with residents in weekly educational conferences and in several outpatient settings. Our 4+1 clinic schedule was resident-envisioned, and we are continuing to add to our outpatient curriculum based on resident leadership. Residents have more opportunities than ever to teach and precept students in the outpatient setting, and these opportunities are continuing to expand.

Finally, as Associate Program Director for the Mackie Firm, I get to have closer coaching relationships with a smaller group of residents. Not only do we work together on quality improvement and other firm projects, I am available for both formal and informal coaching for each resident in the firm. What impresses me across all settings is our residents' tenacity, leadership, and teamwork. They fight hard for their patients, take care of each other, and teach others at every opportunity.

It's an honor to get to work with our Primary Care Track residents, who are making great things happen across our community.  Like the residency program as a whole, the Primary Care Track is resident-run, which means that the innovation and energy behind the track comes from the residents themselves. A central focus of our Primary Care Track is leadership development, and our residents play integral roles in a variety of community health settings. Residents design their own primary care electives; precept at a student run clinic; lead health education workshops in our popular Lose Dat! community weight loss program; participate in the visioning and implementation of quality improvement initiatives at the Ruth Fertel Community Health Center; and run a homeless clinic in collaboration with the Emergency Medicine residents. We are launching a Mentorship program that links the primary care track residents with leaders in primary care, community health, and health policy, in keeping with our mission to develop primary care leaders for this community and beyond.

I believe that our focus on leadership, combined with our mission to care for all who come through our doors, creates a residency environment that is truly special and extraordinary. My teaching philosophy is to give residents the tools, resources and support they need in order to surpass their visions of what they dream to be possible--and then to get out of the way and let them do amazing things. Our residents consistently blow me away with their integrity, teamwork, and their unfailing dedication to the patients, our community, and each other. Just as I looked to Tulane residents for inspiration all those years ago when I decided to return here for residency, I continue to be inspired by our residents today.

Please feel free to be in touch if there are any questions I can answer about our team, our Primary Care Track, or anything else! I love talking about what we are doing here, and I think the future will only get brighter.

Catherine Jones, MD

Deepa Bhatnagar

Deepa Bhatnagar, MD
Associate Program Director, Ray Firm
Quality and Patient Safety Director

The first thing you must know about me is I’m a New Orleans Girl. You know that saying. . . You can take the girl out of New Orleans, but you can’t take the New Orleans out of the girl. . . Well you might not have heard that saying YET but let me tell you why it applies to me.

Well I grew up in New Orleans, did all my schooling here and then left for college. I went over to Texas at Rice University, learned to like country music, and then came right back to NOLA for medical school. Let’s be honest. You can’t beat in-state tuition. I did my school at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. I was in the middle of my third year of medical school when Katrina hit. Even a hurricane can’t hold New Orleans back. As a city and as a long-time resident of this city, I/we developed a renewed sense of pride, the pride that you can still feel when you come visit us here. I left for residency to do Med/Peds training at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In Alabama, I received a solid graduate medical education and a strong appreciation for the role of a clinician-educator.

But over there I also realized that Alabama only really cares about college football. As I mentioned before, I’m a New Orleans girl and I’m really a pro football fan – a proud member of the Who Dat Nation. I knew I needed to be in the Superdome every Sunday, so I came running back to New Orleans to work. Lucky for me, Tulane School of Medicine gave me a job in the city I love and doing what I love. After years of watching strong role models as clinician-educators, I knew that this was my calling. Tulane has allowed me to teach medical students and residents on a nearly daily basis on the wards at Tulane Medical Center. With our innovative block scheduling (4+1 system), the residents are around all day on the wards allowing me large chunks of time to discuss cases, teach, and get to know the residents.

Besides my time with the residents on the wards, I have been working with the residents on their quality improvement projects and teaching during the Curriculum for Additional Skills including procedural training and transitions of care. I also have been working with Tulane Medical Center to improve our transitions of care from the inpatient to outpatient setting through Project BOOST (a national initiative sponsored by the Society of Hospital Medicine).

And as I mentioned before . . . I’m a New Orleans girl. So whenever I get time, I am often out and about enjoying the perks of what I consider a special city – the city I call home.  Whether it’s Red Dress Run, Jazz Fest, or a New Orleans Saints game, I make sure to get out and enjoy everything this city has to offer.

I hope to see you here soon. . . Come on down to check out this city yourself, see the pride we have in our city, and our passion to give back to this community through our delivery of quality healthcare. I know you won't be disappointed.

Deepa Bhatnagar, MD

Mike Smith

Mike Smith, MD
Associate Program Director, Elliott Firm
Monday School Director

I came to Tulane and New Orleans for my Internal Medicine residency in 2009 not knowing what exactly to expect, but anticipating an adventure.  What has been given to me as a result of that decision has been much more than I could have imagined.

I expected to be surrounded by great people based on my interview and visit to New Orleans. What I found was a group of people with integrity, compassion, and intellect that inspired me on a daily basis. I continue to be inspired by the residents in the program in all of life’s arenas.

I expected to have fun in New Orleans, since… well… it is New Orleans!  What I have experienced is impossible to express in words…. every trip out of the house will activate all five senses. The taste and smell of the food is great, but combined with the music playing, the sight of people dressed in random costumes, and the energy that can be felt makes an average Tuesday night out to dinner something incredible. When I moved here, I was in a long distance relationship with my significant other and now we are married with a child. New Orleans provided social experiences for us at every step. Now that we have a child, our nights aren’t spent on Frenchman St. anymore (unless we have a babysitter) but there are several parks and live music everywhere you turn in the city both day and night. Bob Dylan described it well when he said, “There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better. There's a thousand different angles at any moment.”

I expected to have a diverse patient experience since that’s what everyone talked about on interview day. Then I had my first month at University Hospital to show me what patient diversity really meant. There are poor and underserved populations wherever you go, then there are the poor and underserved that you have the privilege of caring for at University Hospital.  I am primarily a hospitalist at University Hospital.  I had a two-week period on service recently where we had five patients that we plan on writing up for presentation at national meetings. In that stretch we had three call days, meaning that every call day, our team was able to take care of one or two patients whose clinical presentation was so interesting that leaders in the field of hospital medicine should learn from what we experienced. I consider it a great honor to spend most of my time working with our great residents serving the people at University Hospital.

I expected the education system in residency to be different compared to medical school, if for no other reason, than it was residency.  What I found was a practical approach to learning medicine for the rest of my life much different than what I experienced in medical school.  This was perhaps taken for granted while in residency but when my fellow chiefs and I went to the national conference for all of the chief residents in internal medicine throughout the country, it was a real eye opener of just how good we had it at Tulane. In small group sessions at the conference, chief residents from other programs described how they oversee their education system and my head started racing with how outdated most of their methods for learning medicine were.  They were relying on methods of learning medicine that worked when one person could literally learn all of medicine, but did nothing to teach how to keep learning.  Our very own Coach Wiese gave a talk to the whole group of rising chief residents at this conference as well…. While the other thousand chief residents in the crowd looked on with awe and envy, I kept thinking …. This is just a slice of what we get from Coach every week in Monday School.  Later in that conference, I overheard a chief resident from another program describe that talk as the best thing that ever happened in his life.

The resident Monday school has evolved in my time at Tulane and has become a point of focus in my role as Associate Program Director. Our weekly meetings to prepare the conference with Coach Wiese, the current chief residents, and myself allow each Monday School to be filled with dispersion of practical knowledge to be a physician as well as insights to practice medicine as an art. It is genuinely fun for me to help develop and be part of such an innovative curriculum that challenges us to keep pushing such an intellectually gifted group of residents.

I have learned to always work hard for our patients and work hard for the people working with me. I developed this in residency because that was the example I saw throughout my residency by people above me and around me. I read a quote from a man named L.P. Jacks in college that I decided I would strive for in my life. But I would say that I did not fully realize this goal until towards the end of my residency before my year as chief resident started. I have found it to be true and in a certain way, it explains why my time at Tulane and in New Orleans has been an adventure well beyond what I had anticipated.

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religions. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him, he is always doing both.”
I look forward to leading and working with you. I promise you that if Tulane is what you choose, you will never regret the decision. It will define the person you have always wanted to become! Feel free to contact me directly if I can be of help to you in any way.

Michael Smith, MD

Philip Putnam

Philip Putnam, MD
Associate Program Director, Musser Firm
CAS and Friday School Director

I began looking for a job in New Orleans after my wife matched into a pediatrics residency in the city.  Tulane was the first place I interviewed during that search.  Perhaps what struck me most during that interview was the commitment to education that was evident throughout the entire department.  I met people who were excited about coming to work…. People who were excited and inspired with  having the opportunity to care for patients and teach the next generation of physicians.  I saw an innovative curriculum at work and a group of residents who took ownership of their personal and professional development.  It was clear to me that this residency Team fosters an environment of respect, personal and professional responsibility, high-quality patient-centered care, and teamwork.  This was the place I was seeking.  This was a chance for more than just “a job.”  For me, Tulane provided the opportunity to fulfill my personal mission as a clinician and educator. 

Clinically, I serve as a hospitalist at TUMC, supervising housestaff and medical students in the acute care of the internal medicine inpatient wards. The patient population in New Orleans provides a diverse mix of disease type, presentation, and severity.  The patients themselves are very diverse and provide an added dimension of complexity that helps hone the “art” of practicing medicine. 

As an associate program director, I am teamed with the Musser firm…. Stationed the stewardship of the activities and development of these residents.  I work alongside the chief resident of the firm to provide feedback and strategic planning for each resident’s personal development.  I also assist with the planning and execution of the yearly firm QI project.  In short, my goal is to be active in the development of our residents into competent, compassionate physicians who deliver conscientious care to their patients and communities. 

While I am entrusted with the Musser firm, I also devote time to the program as a whole by overseeing the Friday School Curriculum for the interns, and the Curriculum for Additional Skills (CAS), developing our residents into “complete” physicians and people.  I promise you this…. You will love CAS! Check out our plans for the coming year.

As physicians, we are committing ourselves to a lifetime of learning and teaching, both patients and our fellow physicians. It is my mission to provide you with the tools and guidance that you need to succeed.  Whatever your mission in life may be, I want to equip you to accomplish it.  Great things await us; come be a part of it!

Philip Putnam, MD