Angela Brennan, DO
Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California
I grew up in the Bay Area in Vallejo, CA and graduated college at UC Santa Cruz with a BS in Health Sciences. During my senior year, I was able to study abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico working in clinics and hospitals. My experiences there strengthened my desire to work in the field of medicine and led me to pursue my Masters degree in Public Health at Touro University, where I stayed for my medical training. From the time I was 5 years old, I knew I wanted to be a doctor. I have always liked medicine, but I fell in love with the patients. This was a driving force for me choosing Natividad for residency, and returning to the Central Coast. I wanted to work in the Northern California region with medically underserved and diverse populations. I chose Family medicine for all the benefits it has to offer, particularly, the ability to be able to treat patients at any age, to see a variety of disease and health, and the ability to form long-term relationships with my patients. That kind of satisfaction does not come with all specialties, and I believe it is a major benefit to primary care. I am inspired by having trained with excellent family physicians who break the stereotype that a family physician is a jack of all trades, but a master of none. I have seen how training and background in family medicine creates excellent diagnosticians and healers, and I hope to learn from them here during my time at Natividad.
Kristin Burstedt, DO
Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine
I was born and raised in the Bay Area (Livermore, CA) and attended undergrad at Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga (go Gaels!). After college, in the midst of applying to medical school, I worked as a research associate at a Biotech company in San Francisco. For med school, I ventured to the Midwest to attend Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine. As a medical student, I rotated at Natividad and became drawn in by its community focus, wonderful patient population and dedicated health care team. While the "family" is my focus, I am particularly interested in geriatrics, pediatrics and community medicine. For fun, I enjoy road biking, dancing (any type), hiking, traveling (I mean, who doesn't?) and spending quality time with friends and family- which often means sharing good food!
Natalie Gallardo, DO
Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California
I grew up in the bay area and while living in Southern California for the past 4 years has been quite the adventure, I am excited to be doing residency back near my hometown. I have a beautiful baby boy at home so being close to my family is very important. Apart from my family life, I am thrilled to be practicing family medicine at Natividad Medical Center because I have always aspired to work with the underserved population and be a strong figure in my community. Spanish is also a big part of my life and a skill that helps me communicate and connect better with my patients. I learned Spanish while traveling around South America during high school, college and medical school. My husband is from Chile, so my household is constantly filled with Spanish, whether in conversation or as a bedtime lullaby. On a more personal note, I love to dance, spend time outside, especially at the beach, try new and funky restaurants, travel, hang out at coffee shops and drink hot tea on cold nights. I have always wanted to be a family medicine physician with an emphasis on women’s health and pediatrics, and can’t wait to get started in such a supportive and challenging program.
Mary Pennington, DO
UNTHSC Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
Born and Raised in: San Antonio, TX, I grew up in a military family, and as such I’ve lived in many places throughout my life, including Landstuhl, Germany for some of my younger years. However, when I was in the 5th grade my father retired from the Army in San Antonio, TX and I have called it home ever since (Go Spurs Go!). I spent my undergrad years at a small liberal arts college in Georgetown TX called Southwestern University where I received a B.S. in chemistry and played varsity tennis. After that I attended the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth, Texas. I rotated at Natividad as a 4th year medical student and fell in love with the program because of its dedication to the community and devotion to creating a unique set of well rounded family physicians. I am proud and honored to be a new member of the Natividad family!
Peter Ro, MD
University of California, San Francisco
I am grateful for the diverse life journey that has led me from the East to the West, as well as from the east coast to the west coast. After spending my childhood in South Korea, I immigrated to Washington, D.C. Then, the Golden State called out to me for my college years and beyond. I studied Biology at Stanford University and earned my medical doctorate at University of California, San Francisco. I initially pursued surgical residency until my mother and grandmother unexpectedly passed away. At that time, I took a break from medicine to grieve as well as to carefully reevaluate my life’s passions. My unconventional journey nurtured a desire to dedicate my life to serving patients as a family physician, providing compassionate care and healing to patients and their families — the image of the doctor that had initially inspired me to pursue medicine. My background interests and experiences, whether it be my research in health systems in India, healthcare consulting in New York, or leading initiatives for underserved immigrant communities, have finally led me to my home in family medicine. And now, I am honored to call Natividad my home and to serve the rural underserved immigrant community here. When not in the hospital, I like to play tennis and to soak in the unparalleled natural beauty unique to this location.
Jacqueline Romero, MD
Loma Linda University School of Medicine
I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area to immigrant parents from Mexico and El Salvador. I inherited my mother’s love of enchiladas and my father’s love of pupusas. My mother and her family were migrant field workers, which is one reason I was drawn to Salinas, also known as the “salad bowl of the world.” Many of the patients here at Natividad feel like family. As a little girl, my dream was to become “una doctora.” That dream grew after I witnessed extreme poverty on a medical/dental mission trip to Honduras at age 13. Subsequent mission trips to Russia, Egypt, Peru, Micronesia, and Nepal have also deepened my desire to practice medicine. I attended Pacific Union College in the beautiful Napa Valley. During college, I worked in after school programs for children of migrant farm workers. It didn’t take long for the kids to steal my heart. I attended Loma Linda University School of Medicine in southern California, where I was involved in medical outreach to underserved patients in San Bernardino. I’m thrilled to join the Natividad Family and to be of service to this community. When I'm not in the hospital, I can be found baking up a storm or experimenting with vegetarian cuisine. I also enjoy jogging, swimming, gardening, stargazing, and walking along the sandy coast of Monterey Bay. I’m very thankful to be living among the lettuce and strawberry fields of Monterey County while learning the art of medicine at Natividad.
Poorna Thiru, MD
Madras Medical College, Chennai
I was born and raised in Tuticorin which is a small coastal town in Southern India. I went to Madras Medical College, Chennai for undergraduate medical education. I completed 9-10 months of internship at Mercy Medical Center, Merced and moved to Natividad to complete my residency training. During Medical school, I constantly found myself being drawn to patients with multiple medical problems. It was challenging and mysterious to find out how to help them. I was not only interested in the pathophysiology behind the disease process, but also wanted to learn how to prevent the disease process from happening. During my clinical rotations, I always tried to play an active role in helping them deal with their problems. Through my journey to obtain residency, I met many of my mentors. My interactions with my mentors has changed me for the better and made me a more compassionate and sensitive individual especially with respect to the poor and those who have the cards generally stacked against them in life. It is my goal to serve this group of underserved people. And I'm extremely grateful to them for guiding me all along the way. My greatest accomplishment is having had a baby by natural delivery. Parenting has taught me tons of responsibility and kindness towards myself and others. I'm very thankful to live with my family while doing residency. I would not be here without them and their support. I love nature and beaches. Nature amazes me and makes me grateful that I can enjoy it.
Judi Wong, DO
What else can I say, as I look back, besides that everything has been an incredible (and somewhat random) journey? Born and raised in the Bay Area, I grew up as a teenager originally wanting to become a high school counselor so that I could scream at the kids (just kidding) in an attempt to help them refocus their lives. I ended up pursuing Chemical Biology at UC Berkeley, then completed a couple of post-baccalaureate years in Biochemistry at San Francisco State University (while working nights at the airport), before launching myself over to the East Coast into Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia. All this time, I was volunteering at local hospices and found myself truly enjoying the interaction with the patients. Volunteering at Drexel University’s Chinatown Clinic also made me crave for more patient care experience. I realized I wanted to do more for them and the local community, especially becoming a dependable central resource for their healthcare needs, and made the decision to start my medical career. As a memorable send-off, my four high school friends and I executed a cross-country road trip over 25 contiguous states in one week, before dropping me off in Kirksville, Missouri, to begin medical school at ATSU-KCOM. Since then, I have continued to traverse the United States for my clinical rotations, and with each fresh experience in each new community, I recognize how the family medicine physician plays a pivotal role in each patient’s health care. Finishing up my rotations in West Plains, Missouri, I now trek back to California to begin yet another leg of my (random) journey, but hopefully crossing home plate as an experienced and compassionate doctor like all the impressive ones I have met.