Blair Cushing, DO
Born and Raised: Nebraska
Medical School: Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
Prior to entering medical school, I worked professionally in social services for 9 years. My areas of expertise were in housing and homelessness services and working with survivors of domestic violence. It was as a result of my interactions with low-income elders and persons with disabilities that I began to more closely evaluate our healthcare system and recognized the impact that a compassionate primary care physician can make for someone facing a multitude of life challenges. In 2011, I relocated from Boston, Massachusetts to Fort Worth, Texas to attend the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. While in Texas, I learned a great deal about caring for the underserved in limited resource settings and became very involved in advocacy through our various arms of organized medicine. In my last semester of medical school, I moved to Austin in order to spend as much of my time as possible at the Texas State Capitol during the 84th Legislative Session, focusing my efforts on graduate medical education and women's health. It is my future goal to practice full-scope family medicine along the US-Mexico border in a critical access setting. In my search for a residency, there were few programs that I truly believed would offer the type of training I needed to feel fully prepared to practice in that environment. Natividad was everything I was looking for and I'm very excited about the opportunity to learn about and engage with my new community in Salinas.
Leah Dahlfred, MD
Born and Raised: Waltham, Massachusetts but most of my childhood summers and the 10 years that my family owned a farm were spent in the countryside of upstate New York
Medical School: University of Massachusetts, Worcester, MA
I grew up the oldest of six close children, in a busy suburb of Boston, MA. While studying biochemistry at Brandeis University explored emergency medical services and worked in biochemical engineering. After graduation this exploration continued with work in pharmaceutical clinical research while at the same time I delved into theology. My adventures included a lot of travel, skydiving all over the country and many international trips, both service based and for personal edification. With these experiences I was moved to pursue medical training further. I learned that I was not meant for an office job and I embraced my passion for serving the most basic needs of humanity in medicine. I struggled to pick just one field of medicine that served me best and initially pursued surgical training. However, with the ever changing US healthcare situation and my own experiences treating patients, I longed for the more intimate and long-term relationships found in Family medicine as well as the more comprehensive breadth of care. By beginning a family of my own, more than ever I have come to value the balance of work and personal life and how achieving that will make me a more capable physician as I relate to my patients and their struggles. I have come to the West Coast, Salinas, CA and Natividad Medical Center to learn from the last true "old school" family doctors the significant art and science of caring for patients from the womb to the grave and to care for some of the hardest working and underserved Americans. I am thrilled to be here in this beautiful region, to raise my young family, and be able to pursue some of my favorite activities – running, cycling, hiking and spending time by the sea. I am eager to refresh my rusty Spanish and become involved in and make a difference in my community.
Kanta Dhanda, DO
Born and Raised: Petaluma, CA
Medical School: Touro University Nevada
I was born and raised in Sonoma County, located 45 minutes north of San Francisco. My parents migrated from India in the late 1980's and settled in the Bay Area. My family always stressed the importance of higher education and the pursuit of the American dream. I completed my Bachelors of Science degree in Biochemistry at Sonoma State University. Aside from my studies, I volunteered at a local community free clinic and lack of care in the underserved communities inspired me to become a primary care physician. I also worked as a medical assistant for a busy family practice clinic and immediately became drawn to everything family medicine has to offer including a diverse patient population, women's health, small office procedures, preventative medicine, patient education, and pediatrics. I ventured to Las Vegas to attend medical school at Touro University Nevada and completed a medical mission trip with DOCARE in Guatemala. In my fourth year of medical school, I became interested in NMC because of the institutions mission to serve the underserved community. After rotating at NMC for a short few weeks, I fell in love with the warm-hearted people, cultural diversity, and the dedicated medical faculty and staff. I am thrilled to be a part of the Family Medicine Residency Program and the NMC family! Aside from medicine, I also enjoying spending time with family, cooking tapas, creating artwork, working out, interior design, and watching movies with my husband.
Anna Kong, MD
Born and Raised: Modesto, California
Medical School: Ross University
I was born and raised in the Central Valley of California. I grew up in an immigrant family without many resources and developed a passion to helping those in need. I later attended UC Berkeley for my undergraduate degree, spending days at the Children's Hospital as well as local women's clinic. Wanting to explore my options, I worked at multiple health clinics in the Bay Area, where I solidified my desires for working with an underserved community. My travel bug hit and I was happily on my way to Dominica, where I did my medical school training at Ross University. It was a great experience to be able to see how other countries' medical system worked and to be able to contribute to the community there. Having rotated at Natividad, I am excited to return and be able to help this community and this wonderful community. Even though I appreciate the full scope that family medicine has to offer, I am particularly interested in women's health, children and adolescent health, and community medicine. In my non-professional life, I enjoy traveling, food, music, cooking, trying new things, and SCUBA diving.
Nathaniel Lepp, MD, MPH
Medical School: New York Medical College
My path to medicine has been guided by one key question: how can 21st-century medicine be a medium for justice? I was born on the granite bedrock of New York City and raised in nearby New Rochelle, where my family lived on what was once a farm belonging to Thomas Paine. As a student in the local schools, I learned about Paine's legacy of rallying support for the American Revolution through his straightforward and widely read pamphlet, Common Sense. I led my high school's debate team and learned how to speak out for justice. When I left for college at Brown University, I joined community advocates in fighting for the rights of individuals with HIV, Hepatitis C, and drug dependence. My work inspired me to build broad coalitions with health professionals, and ultimately propelled me to a career in medicine. I earned a bachelors in neuroscience and a masters in public health from Brown and a medical doctorate from New York Medical College. Outside of work, I love being in the water to swim, surf and snorkel. I'm learning Spanish to keep up with my wife, my in-laws from Mexico, and my patients!
Alexis Lima, MD
Born and Raised: Lodi CA
Medical School: University College Dublin
I am originally from a small town in Northern California wine country. Due to a serious case of wanderlust, I have spent the better part of the last decade living in Spain, Italy, and Ireland, while also traveling all over Europe and Northern Africa. South America is the next continent on my list. I love good food and wine and have been known to plan entire vacations around where I will eat. But the best part of my adventures has always been the amazing people I have met. One of my favorite things about family medicine is the opportunity to get to know my patients' stories. In addition to family medicine, I have a passion for global health and emergency medicine. When I am not working, I enjoy outdoor adventures, dance, and krav maga.
Jennifer Mitchell, MD
Born and Raised: Southern California
Medical School: Ross University School of Medicine
I was born and raised in sunny Southern California. I grew up loving animals and spent my undergrad at UC Santa Barbara studying marine life and ultimately receiving a B.S. in Zoology. After undergrad I volunteered for Planned Parenthood and found a special interest in Women's Health and education. I made the journey out to Dominica to attend Ross University School of Medicine and returned to California to complete my schooling. Outside of work you can find me playing with my cuddle-monster dog, baking, reading, and if it's football season I'll be working on my fantasy football lineup! I am incredibly happy to be joining the Natividad family and look forward to all that is to come!
Ivette Ramos, MD
Born and Raised: Ponce, Puerto Rico and raised in Santa Clarita, California
Medical School: University of Puerto Rico SOM
Hi. My name is Ivette Ramos and I am a beach lover. I have always said the two places I can call home are California and Puerto Rico. In both locations you can find beautiful coasts, people and scenery. I enjoy taking my dog for walks on the beach to reflect on what I want my day to be like, and what it was like in order to better the next. My favorite flowers which are the Plumeria an the Hibiscus grow in both of these locations. Interestingly, both flowers symbolize the relationship status of a woman in differing countries. For me these flowers signify confidence and power. Regarless of if these women are single or taken, they take pride in presenting it to the people. I feel that way but in my profession. I feel pride to represent my community regardless of where I am or how I feel. If I am close or far I will continue to work toward representing my community no matter what position the community or I am in. These flowers give me hope. A hope I believe I can share with the community of Salinas with my never fading idea that the glass is always half full, and never half empty.
Bani Singh, MD
Born and Raised: Born in Bakersfield, CA. Grew up in Bakersfield CA, Monterey CA, and Fresno CA
Medical School: St. George's University
Having grown up in a farming community in the Central Valley, the move to the Salinas Valley seems fitting. I was born in Bakersfield and attended school there as well as in Monterey CA, and Fresno CA. I then headed to the east coast, completing my undergraduate years at Wellesley College. While I loved my time on the east coast, I was eager to return home to sunny California and began working as a lab technician in the department of Hematology & Oncology at USC's Keck School of Medicine. Clearly I wasn't tired of moving as I was then off to St. George's University in Grenada, West Indes. Volunteering at the bi-annual community health fairs in Grenada and with Women In Medicine sparked my love of working with medically underserved populations. This was further solidified during my rotations at community hospitals in California, Maryland, and New York. I look forward to continue to learn and be challenged while at Natividad Medical Center. Outside of the hospital, I recently enjoyed volunteering as a Bocce Ball Coach for Kern County's Special Olympics chapter. I maintain my love of the arts with constant museum trips; two of my favorites are the Norton Simon and the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, CA.