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Current TFM Faculty

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Rebecca Benko, MD

Rebecca L. Benko, MD

Home Town: Croswell, Michigan

Medical School: Michigan State University of Human Medicine

Special Interests: Colposcopy OB, and Surgery Skills

Becky was raised in a small community in eastern Michigan called Croswell.  Her first experience with the medical field was the local family doc that did everything, including delivering babies, making hospital rounds and taking care of all members of the family.  After she decided to pursue a career in medicine she realized that what she really wanted to do was be a full spectrum family physician, much like the physician in her small town.  She went to Michigan State University for her undergraduate studies and received a BS in Medical Technology before continuing to Michigan State College of Human Medicine for her M.D. degree.  After residency she went on to practice in Newport, a small rural community in eastern Washington. In Newport she did everything from surgical obstetrics (including cesarean sections) to nursing home rounds to working in the emergency department to full spectrum outpatient care to serving as a liaison to the local public health department.

Becky joined Tacoma Family Medicine in 2002 to pursue a career in teaching, a position that allows her to continue to practice full spectrum family medicine while also incorporating her love for teaching.  She still enjoys taking care of all family members and has a particular interest in women’s health and maternity care.  She serves as the obstetrics liaison for the residency and serves on multiple OB committees, including Women’s Services, Perinatology Clinical Improvement Team, and the OB Collaborative.  She continues to be passionate about rural health care and serving underserved communities. 

 
In her free time Becky enjoys reading (everything), jewelry making, cooking, hiking, biking, swimming, running, and doing an occasional “mud run.” For a number of years she competed in triathlons.  She is married to a pediatric surgeon, and they have two wonderful children and a dog.  They lead very busy lives and are always working on balance, but Becky says they wouldn’t trade it for anything!



Michael Brennan, DO, MA, FAAFP

Michael Brennan, DO, MA, FAAFP

Home Town: Longmont, Colorado. I have been in the Great NW for over 25 years so my hometown is here.

Medical School: Des Moines University, College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery

Special Interests: Dermatology, Otorhinolaryngology, Urology, Ophthalmology, and Emergency Medicine

Michal was raised in Longmont, Colorado, and completed his undergrad and graduate school at the University of Northern Colorado.  He then completed medical school at Des Moines University, College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery.  He has also been named a Fellow by the American Academy of Family Physicians.  Michal completed his residency with the U.S. Army and practiced as a family medicine faculty physician around the world, including Russia, Panama, Honduras, Alaska, and Germany.  He is currently Associate Director of the TFM residency program and Office Medical Director.  He also serves on the Graduate Medical Education committee as well as the TFM Medical Executive committee and Operations committee.  Prior experience includes working for twelve years as the onsite director for the Puyallup Family residency when it was a community satellite site of TFM. 

Michal’s hobbies include boating, golfing, camping, traveling, and playing multiple musical instruments in multiple bands!  He and his wife of 35 years are the proud parents of two grown children (plus grandchildren) in California, two dogs, and a cat. 


Paula Constance, ARNP

Paula Constance, ARNP

Home Town: Sidney, Iowa (pop. 1,200)

Nurse Practitioner: University of North Dakota

Masters of Education: University of Nebraska

Masters of Management: Troy University

Areas of interest: Outdoor Emergency Medicine, Acute Care, Dermatology, Ortho, Women’s Health Care, OB, and CAM



Thomas Egnew, ED.D

Thomas Egnew, EdD

Home Town: Hardin, Montana

Professional School: Seattle University

Special Interests: Behavioral Science/Counseling and Psychiatry

Tom joined TFM in 1979 and his family medicine career now spans five decades. Hailing from rural Montana he grew up near the Battle of the Little Big Horn and once met a Cheyenne medicine man who was a young boy in camp the day “Yellow Hair” attacked. Tom went to college nearby where he sang some opera before working as a probation officer for Cook County Juvenile Court while studying social work at the University of Chicago.

Tom was stationed at Madigan Army Medical Center and became a behavioral scientist as a Vietnam era Army officer. He completed a doctorate at Seattle U while researching how to help physicians learn to be healers and was promoted to Clinical Professor in the UW Dept of Family Medicine. As a Fulbright Scholar in New Zealand, he studied medical student teaching/learning about the doctor-patient relationship and later was an invited plenary speaker at the Inaugural Whole Person Care Symposium in Sydney, Australia.

Tom has pledged his bond of manrent to the Chief of his Clan Wallace, is member #7215 of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and can recite Robert Burns’ “Ode to a Haggis” from memory (when properly kilted and fortified, of course). His interests lie in teaching the nuances of the doctor-patient relationship and in writing to further the understanding of holistic healing. He firmly believes that how doctors are with patients when accompanying them on their illness journeys is as important as what they do to them!  His joy lies in his lovely family physician wife and their two beautiful (well, most of the time) children.


Alan Gill, MD

Alan Gill, MD

Home Town: St. Louis, Missouri

Medical School: University of Michigan

Special Interests: Cardiology, Fellowship, Developmental Disabilities, and Rural Medicine

Alan followed a winding tour of “M” states before getting it right and landing in Washington.  He grew up in Michigan and Missouri, completed undergrad and medical school at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), and did his residency at the University of Missouri, Columbia.  Alan then worked for Indian Health Service with the Blackfeet in Montana, which was a marvelous experience.  If you have not been to where Glacier National Park meets the high plains, it is a must.  He returned to Fulton, Missouri, for several years to teach at a rural teaching site for the University of Missouri.  In 1999, his wife asked him, “Why are we living in Missouri?”  Lacking a good answer, they moved to Tacoma in 2000, drawn by family and by TFM’s mission of training physicians to serve in rural and urban communities in need.  They have certainly found their home, with great colleagues and residents, meaningful work, an ideal place to raise their now nearly grown family, and endless outdoor opportunities.


For fun, Alan must be active, from running and weight training to camping, hiking, and back packing.  Peaks still have a particular appeal. He likes occasional bucket listers, having tried spelunking (including vertical caves), sky diving, and the calculated risk of a hot air balloon ride with one of his sons, who has autism.   He and his family enjoy travel, which they spice up by buying random trips at charity auctions.  Alan also goes on a yearly medical mission trip to Honduras, and he often takes residents with him.

Alan loves the entire breadth of family medicine.  His particular passions are caring for people with developmental disabilities and their families and for supporting residents who plan to practice in rural areas. 


Janelle Guirguis-Blank, MD

Janelle Guirguis-Blake, MD

Home Town: Westfield, New Jersey

Medical School: Dartsmouth-Brown Medical School Program

Special Interests: Evidence Based Medicine (EBM), Health Promotion/Disease Prevention, and TFM Day

Janelle was raised in New Jersey and has spent most of her life as a fast-talking East Coaster.  She received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry at Brown University in Providence, RI, and her medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School and Brown University School of Medicine.  She attended the family medicine residency at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine before completing a primary care health policy fellowship at Georgetown School of Medicine.

Prior to joining Tacoma Family Medicine, Janelle served as program director for the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) program at the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHRQ).  Since coming to TFM, she has continued to work with AHRQ and the USPSTF in various capacities and currently spends half of her time as a principal investigator for USPSTF systematic reviews.  She is on the leadership steering committee for the WPRN (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho state region Practice Research Network) and serves as principal investigator for several ongoing clinical trials related to prevention, guideline implementation and safe prescribing practices in primary care.  At TFM she teaches full-scope family medicine while also providing an invaluable resource as an expert in epidemiology, evidence-based medicine, and research. 

Janelle moved to the NW to explore the outdoors and enjoys kayaking, biking and hiking with her family. She loves traveling and is fluent in Spanish, French and Arabic.



Christopher Jones, MD

Christopher Jones, MD

Home Town: Tri-Cities, Washington

Professional School: University of Washington

Special Interests: Pediatrics

Chris is a true Washingtonian at heart.  He was raised in Richland, completed his undergrad at Seattle Pacific University, and earned his medical degree at the University of Washington.  After so many years in the PNW, he ventured east to the land of deep dish pizza for pediatric residency training at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.  He spent the first eight years of his career at a community health center in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago before returning to his roots.  Chris serves as the medical director at HopeCentral Pediatric and Behavioral Health, which is located in Southeast Seattle's Rainier Valley.  He was awarded the Community Service Award by Seattle Magazine in 2014 for his work with HopeCentral.  At TFM he is the pediatric liaison, serves on the Pediatric Services Committee, and preceptors the resident pediatric clinic.  Chris loves his beautiful wife Kara and their three fun children Reed, Eliot, and Phoebe.  His other talents include speaking Spanish, playing soccer, and running.


Katy Landy, MD

Kate Landy, MD

Home Town: Chevy Chase, Maryland

Professional School: University of Rochester School of Medicine

Special Interests: Women’s health / Gynecology.

Kate’s hometown is Chevy Chase, Maryland, and she maintains that the famous Chevy Chase named himself after her town, which is a suburb of Washington, D.C., and not the other way around.  She completed her undergraduate at Columbia University in New York City, majoring in African Studies.  She then headed to the southern city of jazz to earn a Master in Public Health with a focus in epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.  She completed her thesis by working on maternal/child health projects as a US Peace Corps volunteer in the mountains of rural Morocco, where she learned a dialect of Berber that no one else has ever heard (Tamazight).  At one time or another she has also been capable of conversing in Spanish, French, and Swahili.  Upon returning to the United States she headed off to the University of Rochester School of Medicine before completing her residency at Tacoma Family Medicine.  She practiced full-spectrum family medicine for 7.5 years at Community Health Care (an FQHC in Tacoma) before joining the faculty at TFM.  She volunteers on the Pharmacy & Therapeutics hospital committee, at Neighborhood Clinic for the local underserved, and as a classroom parent at her children’s school.  She is married and has a son and daughter, a dog, a pop-up camper, and a tiny sailboat in the driveway.  She enjoys cooking, knitting, crafting, skiing, and camping.


Enrique Leon, MD

Enrique Leon, MD

Home Town: Chimbote, Peru

Professional School: Howard University

Special Interests: Obstetrics and pediatric care, procedural medicine.
Outside medicine — Camping and playing with family, soccer, fishing, skiing, hiking.

Enrique was born and raised in the medium-sized port of Chimbote, Peru, to an American Peace Corp mom and Peruvian teacher father.  He completed his undergraduate studies in biology at James Madison University in Virginia before attending medical school at Howard University in Washington, D.C.  He then crossed the Unites States for residency at Swedish in Seattle before completing the Faculty Development Fellowship at the University of Washington.


Enrique cared for low-income families at a community health clinic in Tacoma for twelve years after residency and helped lead the community through a grant funding and new medical center development by partnering with many groups in Tacoma. He remains active in public health advocacy by serving on committees in public health, school tobacco prevention, and gun injury prevention.  He devotes time to Physicians for Social Responsibility, safer gun laws, a state convention constitutional amendment aimed at getting big money out of politics, promoting improved services for the poor, and speaking in favor of the Affordable Care Act (after the single payer/ public option did not succeed).  He is the president of the Pierce County Chapter of the Washington Academy of Family Physicians and a member of the Pierce County Medical Society.  


Further, international health is a calling that helps Enrique continue to grow in many ways.  Residents are invited to visit his Peru to help teach workshops on different topics in maternal- infant health.  They also see patients, learn tropical medicine, and plan public health projects on small budgets while coordinating 40 foot ship containers of donated medical supplies. 

 
His wife is a high school counselor and former math teacher from New Jersey who leads a Girl Scout troop.  He does not lead his son’s cub scouts yet but will soon.  Enrique was an Eagle Scout so he knows how to tie knots, build zip lines, and make big fires.  He and his wife have two children, 12 and 8 years old, and a dog.  They love to ski, fish, surf, hike, play soccer, and spend time in nature.  Enrique enjoys cooking, organizing pick up soccer games, coaching all of his kids’ sports, listening to his kids play music and perform in plays. 
He enjoys teaching residents and medical students the art of family medicine and believes the specialty offers the best of the profession.  One of his key messages is how to balance healing the body and soul of patients while remaining emotionally strong.  He looks for opportunities to share his passion with aspiring college and high school students who want to see if medicine is their calling.  He especially likes helping minority groups, and he hopes to encourage more people from minorities to enter the practice of family medicine.  At TFM his curricular components are orthopedic and sports medicine, while his liaisonships include procedural training and gastroenterology.



Mary Jo Ludwig, MD

Mary Jo Ludwig, MD

Home Town: Denver, Colorado

Medical School: University of Colorado Health Sciences Center

Special Interests: Geriatrics,  medical ethics, women’s health, preventive health, and family dynamics

Mary Jo grew up in the beautiful Rocky Mountain region and went on to attend the University of Colorado — for many years!  Before moving to the Pacific Northwest for the Valley Family Medicine Residency program in Renton, she completed a BS in Applied Mathematics, an MS in Computer Science, and an MD. She has a love of learning and a love of people, and she enjoys the entire spectrum of family medicine — from cradle to grave. Teaching family medicine perfectly blends those passions. Mary Jo feels enriched by her daily opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life. She is lucky enough to learn something new every day — clinical pearls, wise philosophy, and fun trivia. At Tacoma Family Medicine she oversees the full curriculum with specific responsibility for the geriatrics curriculum. One of her favorite work tasks is weekly nursing home rounds with the residents. She also has a Certificate in Health Care Ethics from the University of Washington, and she serves on the Ethics committee at Tacoma General. Outside work, Mary Jo enjoys learning about history and culture and has dabbled in the Spanish and French languages.  She has explored a variety of craft projects and recently learned to knit and crochet. Her next goal is to become skilled at the piano!


Natalie Nunes, MD

Natalie Nunes, MD

Home Town: Tacoma, Washington

Medical School: Georgetown School of Medicine

Special Interests: Surgery

Proud of her Tacoma hometown heritage, Natalie endeavors to bring an optimistic attitude to her work at TFM, tempered by real-life pragmatism that comes from growing up in a blue collar town. Her diplomas are from the University of Washington (BA Philosophy), Georgetown University School of Medicine (MD), Seattle Indian Health Board (UW residency affiliate; satellite program of Swedish at Cherry Hill), and the University of Washington Faculty Development Fellowship.

Prior to life as TFM faculty, Natalie practiced medicine at HealthPoint, a Federally Qualified Health Clinic, in Federal Way, WA, for ten years.  For the last three years she was the lead physician of the eight provider clinic.  In this role, she was able to work on various state collaborative and other quality improvement projects regarding population health issues.

Working with underserved populations to combat health disparities is what drew Natalie to medicine.  Her interests lie in ethics, women’s health, adolescent medicine, and population health.  She is actively involved with the WAFP and has served on various committees including advisory board work with the state immunization registry (CHILD Profile).  She has also served as the medical director for the Renton Tech Medical Assistant Training program for many years as well.  Her current curriculum areas at TFM include Family Practice Management, Quality Improvement, and General Surgery.

When she is not busy at work, Natalie enjoys spending time with her husband, two kids, and their extended families.  She has a passion for traveling both within the US and abroad and enjoys playing the piano, training in Pilates, and reading.  That is, when she is not catching up on some well deserved sleep.  She also enjoys watching movies at the Grand and attending live theater and music performances.  Natalie is also talented at knitting and holds monthly Knitting Club meetings at her house for residents and faculty.


Susan W. Rowe, Pharm. D.

Susan W. Rowe, PharmD

Home Town: Tacoma, Washington

Pharmacy School: University of Washington

Susan Rowe is the clinical pharmacist on the Tacoma Family Medicine faculty.  She was born in Oceanside, California, but has lived in Tacoma most of her life.  She received her BS Pharm. and PharmD degrees from the University of Washington.  She enjoyed Texas briefly during her general hospital residency at Harris Hospital Methodist in Fort Worth.  She also has a board certification from the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties in Ambulatory Care (BCACP).  Prior to joining Tacoma Family Medicine, Susan was the pharmacist for the Critical Care units at Tacoma General Hospital.  Her professional committee work includes the MHS Chronic non-cancer pain committee, the MHS CHF Collaborative, and the TFM Patient Centered Medical Home committee.  Additionally, she is the current chair for the Washington State Pharmacy and Therapeutic Committee.  She was recognized as the hospital pharmacist of the year in 1989 by the Washington State Hospital Pharmacist Association.  Her hobbies and interests include gourmet cooking, hiking, rafting, spectator sports in general, her family (including her dog), and traveling to anywhere.  She volunteers for the Tacoma Mountaineers and her church.



John Vanbuskirk, DO

John VanBuskirk, DO

Home Town: Los Angeles, California

Medical School: College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, Pomona California

Special Interests: Urban Underserved, Palliative Medicine, and Medical Student Liaison

John grew up in Buena Park, California, which is located in the famous Orange County area of southern California near Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm.  As an undergrad at the University of Washington he received a BS in Environmental Health before becoming a member of the very first class at the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona, California, (which is now part of Western Health Sciences University).  John completed his osteopathic internship in Detroit and Farmington Hills, Michigan, before working four years at Puyallup Tribal Health Authority as a National Health Service Corps Scholarship recipient.   He then entered Tacoma Family Medicine as a second year resident when the program expanded from four residents per year to six. He was honored to remain as Faculty.

John’s pre-medicine work experiences include working in a retail bookstore, spending a summer as a framer/carpenter, and as a “ditch digger” in landscape and maintenance gardening.  He was the Hospice Medical Director for seven years and currently works part time doing consultations for Palliative Medicine Consultation Team.  He is board certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine.  He serves on many hospital committees including Ethics, Peer Review, CME, Adult Medical Services, and Pediatrics. 

His interests include a passion to improve access to health care and service for disenfranchised communities such as those with HIV, mental illness, and substance abuse.  In the community John serves as a board member and medical director for the Neighborhood Clinic, which is a volunteer run free clinic serving the  underserved for more than 25 years.  He also is a former board member of the Pierce County AIDS Foundation and helped develop Project Access Pierce County.  His dedication to others has been recognized by his peers, and John has been awarded the Community Service Award by the Pierce County Medical Society, the Washington Home Health Association Doctor of the Year Award, and the Tacoma Family Medicine Faculty Teaching Award. 

John is a member of AAFP, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for a National Health Plan, Health Care for All, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.  He has completed the UW Family Medicine Network Faculty Development Fellowship and the ALSO Instructor Course. A stalwart supporter of TFM’s monthly Humanism discussion group with interested residents and faculty. Frequently serves as mentor for pre-med students, offering shadowing and other exposures “to help fill the pipeline.”

In his free time John enjoys kayaking, hiking, Alpine and Nordic skiing, reading, gardening, and travel both at home and abroad (e.g. Tanzania, China, Italy, France, Netherlands, US National Parks) with his family.  He has been married for 35 years to Kitty-Ann van Doorninck, now a Pierce County Superior Court Judge, and they have two magnificent sons. They have enjoyed living in Tacoma for over 30 years, (one mile from the hospital) and raising his family in this great community with its access to water, mountain activities, and great medical system.


Kerry Watrin, MD

Kerry Watrin, MD, Program Director

Home Town: Kennewick, Washington

Special Interests: My special interests include adult learning styles, transition cycles, practical use of the EHR in prevention and chronic disease management, obstetrics and international health.

Program Director Thoughts:  Family Medicine is where the magic happens.  It is a gift to accompany you on the apprenticeship of the Family Doc journey. We learn, unlearn, and learn anew over a lifetime, and at TFM, we learn from each other. I am privileged to be a member of the TFM team with common goals of service and full spectrum training.  I trust the collective wisdom of our village in decision making.  We are each accountable to excellence while executing our individual roles.  The work is fun on our well functioning team.  Our dedication to achieving the best health for our patients allows for mutual healing and wellness.

Kerry was raised in Kennewick, Washington, and attended the University of Washington for both undergrad and medical school.  He has completed the UW Faculty Development Fellowship as well as the National Institute for Program Director Development.  His past experiences include working as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in Shinyanga Tanzania, locums work in family medicine, and sabbatical work in a level 1 emergency department.  He serves as the Program Director at TFM, the Vice President of the UW Network of Family Medicine residencies, a member of the MultiCare Quality Committee and Safety Council, and as Advisory Faculty for ALSO.  Kerry’s most valued award is the Bill Downey Award of L’arche Tahoma Hope.  He believes that it reminds him to be “little centered.”  Kerry’s medical interests include newborn care, learning styles, and the process of learning.  He looks forward to the two times every year when he gets the opportunity to eat Kansas City Barbeque. 

Kerry lives in a log cabin on two acres of wooded paradise.  There he can listen to the evening wind in the evergreens at sunset with his soulmate, their two wonderful young adult children, one dog, three sheep, and a passel of cats.  Kerry enjoys hiking and gardening, and his play toy is a John Deere tractor in a large garden.  Each October he and his wife host a pumpkin carving contest and Halloween party.