Family Medicine Faculty
Kerry Watrin, MD
Hometown: Kennewick Washington
Medical School: University of Washington
Residency: Tacoma Family Medicine 1980-83
Fellowships: UW Family Medicine Faculty Development Fellowship
Clinical Interests: Full Spectrum Family Medicine
TFM is a mission-driven group of incredible people who walk their talk. We deliver on the full spectrum training and are especially strong in pediatrics and Obstetrics. More importantly, we accompany, are in kinship with, and advocate for our patients, who are stepping up to the challenges of urban poverty.
Family Medicine grew out of the general practitioners, the GPs. I enjoy the optimistic generalist approach that is a calling that can handle uncertainty, is first on the scene, enjoys variety and novelty, is intellectually curious and knows limits, and works well in a team. Family Medicine sees the big picture and incorporates the biopsychosocial model, social determinants of health, and institutional inequities. At 30 years of practice, I enjoy a rich tapestry of relationships with my patients, colleagues, and community. Work is a joy, with a new birthday package to open each day. Teaching and leading have brought me new insights on how the world works and moved me from justice to compassion to mercy.
I tell my patients I am a specialist in two things. First the common, if you know 100 diagnoses you know 60 % of what walks through the door. You need someone with common sense to take care of the first level health care you need. Second, a specialist in you the patient, I get to know your life story and have the privilege of accompanying and advocating for you in your health care. I have the privilege to be there from the first breath to the last breath.
Like the T-shirt: “Life is Good”. I grew up in a mixture of farmwork and nuclear energy in Eastern Washington. I had a short 4-year stint in Tanzania, then I have spent a career in Family Medicine Education. I am lucky to live on 2 acres with a big garden and grow pumpkins for the annual pumpkin party. I sit with my soulmate on the back porch and watch the sunset with the sound of the evening wind in the evergreens.
Joseph Angel, MD
Languages: English, Spanish
Hometown: Pojoaque, New Mexico
Medical School: University of Washington
Residency: University of Illinois-Chicago
Fellowships: PCC/West Suburban Maternal Child Health, University of Washington Faculty Development
Clinical Interests: Women’s Health/Obstetrics, Latino Health/Underserved Medicine, LGBTQ Care, Transgender/Gender Affirming Care
My approach to medicine focuses on providing quality and compassionate care to communities in need which aligns perfectly with the mission and values of TFM.
I grew up in an impoverished, primarily Latino and Native American community in Northern New Mexico and experienced personally the effects of an underfunded and overwhelmed medical system. As I entered medicine, I knew I wanted to find a specialty that didn’t just treat diseases but rather focused on taking care of the whole person, which meant trying to understand an individual’s social determinants of health. Family Medicine was an easy choice. As a gay Latinx person, I try to not only empower my community but all underserved populations to improve their wellness.
In my free time, I like spending time with my husband, reading, running and traveling.
Melinda Behrens, MD
Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ
Medical School: University of Arizona
Residency: Madigan Army Medical Center
Clinical Interests: Pediatrics, special needs children, inpatient pediatric medicine
My passion is to teach young physicians to provide high quality medical care to our pediatric population, and I believe this is especially crucial for physicians who will be practicing in a rural environment. This aligns perfectly with the TFM goal of training primary care physicians to provide outstanding care in a rural and/or underserved environment.
There is nothing I love professionally more than caring for children, educating parents about how to best care for their children, and teaching residents to become the best docs they can be - I get to do that every day at TFM. And, we have an added bonus at TFM of getting to care for children from an underserved population. My medical career began in the US Army where I proudly served for 6 years. Since then I have had a very diverse career, including working in a special needs clinic, inpatient pediatrics, newborn intensive care unit, and a general pediatric clinic. During this time, I have always had the privilege of teaching residents and medicals, which I have grown to love.
In my free time, I enjoy camping, hiking, and spending time with my family and friends.
Rebecca L. Benko, MD
Associate Program Director, Director Rural Fellowship with Obstetrics
Hometown: Croswell, Michigan
Medical School: Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine
Residency: Tacoma Family Medicine
Fellowships: University of Washington Faculty Development, Department of Family Medicine
Clinical Interests: Obstetrics/Women’s Health, Procedural skills, Cesarean sections, Rural Medicine, Leadership in Healthcare
I joined Tacoma Family Medicine because of the program’s mission to train full-scope family physicians for rural and urban underserved medicine. I am proud that our program provides excellent training in all aspects of family medicine including obstetrics. Working with TFM residents helps keep me energized and inspired.
I was born and raised in a rural farming community in Michigan (population 2500) where medical resources were limited and access to care was challenging. After residency, I spent several years working in a Critical Access Hospital in Eastern Washington providing full-spectrum care, including surgical obstetrics, in a community of 1500. That experience allowed me to fully use all of my training while providing care in an environment with limited resources. My personal philosophy is that the best medical care occurs when treating each patient as an individual within the context of their family and community. I am an active member of multiple medical staff committees and the Washington Academy of Family Physicians and believe that family medicine physicians should make their voices heard at the local, state, and national levels.
In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with my family, doing anything outdoors, reading, and traveling.
Alan Gill, MD
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Medical School: University of Michigan
Residency: University of Missouri-Columbia
Clinical Interests: Developmental Disabilities, Rural Medicine, Cardiology
I came to TFM in 2000 after 10 years in rural medicine. I was drawn by the opportunity to both serve communities in need, and to prepare residents to embrace this work in their careers in both urban and rural settings. I have stayed because we have a wonderful community of residents, faculty, nurses, and staff committed to this mission.
I love the entire breadth of family medicine and the long term relationships with my patients. It is a joy to support individuals in their lives and health over many years. In rural medicine, my practice included the emergency room, inpatient care, obstetrics, and busy full scope outpatient care with multiple nursing homes. I enjoy preparing residents and fellows for all that rural medicine entails. My current greatest passion is caring for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. In 2018, I helped open MultiCare’s Adult Developmental Clinic, and now dedicate a part of my time to directing that clinic.
I followed a winding tour of “M” states before getting it right and landing in Washington. I grew up in Michigan and Missouri, completed undergrad and medical school at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), and did residency at the University of Missouri, Columbia. I served the Blackfeet in Montana with Indian Health Service, which was a great privilege in many ways. I returned to Fulton, Missouri, to teach for 6 years at a rural training site for the University of Missouri. I moved to Tacoma in 2000, drawn by family and by TFM’s mission. I have served several rural Honduran communities with a Tacoma based medical mission group with annual visits over a 10 year period. I am active in local, state, and national advocacy for services for the developmental disability community.
For fun, I must be active, from running and weight training to camping, hiking, and backpacking. Peaks still have a particular appeal. We enjoy travel, which we spice up by buying random trips at charity auctions.
Yvette Gross, DO
Hometown: Newport, NSW, Australia
Medical School: Michigan States College of Osteopathic Medicine
Residency: Maine Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency
Fellowships: Maternal Child Health PCC Welness, Oak Park Illinois; Cook County Faculty Development Fellowship, Chicago, Illinois; UW Faculty Development Fellowship, Seattle Washington. Clinical Interests: Women’s health and obstetrics and ultrasound, Medication Assisted Treatment of opioid disorders, LGBTQA Care including Transgender/Gender Affirming Care, Osteopathic Principles of Care and Manual Therapy
I have had the opportunity to work within multiple residency and fellowship programs. I truly appreciate that TFM offer full spectrum family medicine and continues to address the need to add and adjust curriculum and opportunities for residents and faculty alike to continue adapting to the changing needs of primary care.
Initially as a child I wanted to be a veterinarian or a flight attendant, but as I grew and my goals shifted I found my joy in treating people. This was fostered from volunteering in free clinics and travel on medical missions to Haiti, Guatemala, Peru and Honduras. I loved conversing with the old and the young, the anxious and afraid, the sick and the well and this is why I love family medicine. I am a better person and physician from learning peoples stories and what shaped whom they had become, what their health goals are and what affects their decision. It is so important for me to listen to my patients and work together to make a plan for their healthcare. I am also so fortunate to be in an environment that fosters learning and teaching. I also find so much energy and happiness in teaching and have enjoyed how that has shaped me as a physician and a person and as much as I teach, I also learn from patients, medicine students, resident fellows and colleagues.
In my spare time I likes refinishing furniture, hiking, spending time on the water, eating at amazing Tacoma restaurants, laughing and traveling to new places and back home to Australia.
Janelle Guirguis-Blake, MD
Languages: English, Spanish, French, Arabic
Hometown: Westfield, NJ
Medical School: Dartmouth-Brown Combined Medical School Program
Residency: University of California, Davis
Fellowships: Georgetown Health Policy Fellowship, Department of Health and Human Service Health Policy Fellowship, University of Washington Faculty Development
Clinical Interests: Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM), Health Promotion/Disease Prevention, Research, Scholarly Activity
I joined TFM to teach in a highly academic community program dedicated to training compassionate family physicians who provide full scope care to communities in need. I continue to be inspired by my fellow faculty and residents on a daily basis; my colleagues are amazing individuals and physicians.
I have practiced family medicine in diverse urban communities during my entire career. I have considered TFM a second family ever since I moved across the country from Washington DC to Tacoma in 2005. In my clinical and teaching work, I am passionate about translating evidence into guidelines and practice; engaging physicians and patients in shared decision-making for the provision of preventive services; and implementing evidence based clinical support tools into the electronic medical record. In addition to my role at TFM, I am an investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Evidence Based Practice Center where I lead systematic reviews supporting the US Preventive Services Task Force. I serve on committees in and outside of the residency aimed to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in primary, secondary and graduate education.
I am commonly sighted running or biking all over Tacoma with my family. If you see me, be sure to wave!
Kate Landy, MD, MPH
Languages: English, Spanish
Hometown: Chevy Chase, Maryland
Graduate School: Tulane University School of Public Health
Medical School: University of Rochester
Residency: Tacoma Family Medicine
Fellowship: University of Washington Faculty Development
Clinical Interests: Womens’ health / gynecology, Mother and baby care, Global Health, The full spectrum of family medicine
I was drawn to family medicine because I love the variety of clinical experiences, and I love being able to say to my patients or all ages, “Yes, I can do that for you!” My interest in global health stems from my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Morocco as a maternal/child health educator prior to medical school, as well as a year spent volunteering as a physician in a small mission clinic in rural Ecuador with my family during my tenure at TFM. I have spent my medical career taking care of underserved populations, and I feel so fortunate to be able to teach the next generation to do what I am passionate about.
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two children, cooking, biking, paddle boarding, and reading something new and interesting.
Enrique Leon, MD
Languages: Spanish, English
Hometown: Chimbote, Peru. Then Wheaton Maryland (near DC)
Medical School: Howard
Residency: Swedish First Hill
Fellowships: Faculty Development, University of Washington
Clinical Interests: preventive care, Point of Care Ultrasound, hospital medicine, sports medicine, adolescent medicine, procedural medicine, reproductive rights, and abortion care
Teaching doctors and students to care for communities in need in an inclusive team-based approach. Fun dedicated staff, residents, and faculty make TFM a perfect place to balance wellness, academic rigor, and caring medicine.
I chose family medicine for the long-term relationships with patients. I have delivered babies of women I have delivered and helped the same families with their end of life decisions. We must give all patients the highest quality compassionate care while ensuring health systems improve institutional racism at all levels. I have mentored many youth of color to enter the medical field and advocate for more doctors of color to enter family medicine. I help join community, educational, and governmental organizations to help keep health a prime objective in society. My primary volunteer work is as a Tacoma School Board member, where I help improve education and health of students and staff of Tacoma. I also serve on the Unv. Of Washington Tacoma Global Honors Advisory Board, Latinx Unidos of South Sound, Big Brothers and Sisters Community Board (I have been a big brother for 3 years), and Tacoma Safe Streets Board.
I am a Peruvian immigrant and have passion for serving the Latinx community. I take residents to Peru for up to a one month medical mission teaching trip each year, where we can eat my family's amazing cooking. I am the team physician for two local high schools and teach residents sideline medicine. I worked in the Community Health Care Clinic of Tacoma for 12 years.
I love spending quality time with my wife (high school counselor), daughter (about to start college 2020), and 13-year-old son. We garden, cook, bike, ski, hike, camp, fish, play soccer, and surf throughout the northwest. I enjoy taking residents skiing and relaxing at our cabin in Cle Elum (the East side of the Cascade mountains).
Natalie Nunes, MD
Associate Program Director, Medical Director for TFM clinic
Hometown: Tacoma, WA
Medical School: Georgetown University School of Medicine
Residency: Seattle Indian Health Board (satellite of Swedish-Cherry Hill)
Fellowship: University of Washington Faculty Development
Clinical Interests: Population Health and Quality Improvement, Patient-Centered Medical Home Model, Underserved Medicine/Social Determinants of Health, Medical Informatics (Epic Physician Builder since 2016)
Combating health disparities is what drew me to medicine and where I have found the most joy in my practice. Being faculty at TFM and teaching residents is not only an enjoyable career but a natural fit for me as it creates the opportunity to ensure that this work continues on as our residents begin their future careers in pursuit these same goals.
Growing up locally in South Tacoma and experiencing firsthand the various deleterious effects of social determinants of health eventually drew me into family medicine. The variety of full spectrum practice and the opportunity to impact patients’ lives as well as that of their families has been what keeps me engaged in this career. Being the first in my family to attend college and then finding a way to have an impact in my home community has been such an honor. Having spent 10 years in practice in a federally qualified health center (FQHC) prior to becoming faculty at TFM has shaped my perspective on teaching residents as they pursue careers in serving the underserved.
In my free time I enjoy being with my family, reading, watching movies/theater, traveling as well as listening to and playing music.
Timothy Panzer, MD
Languages: English, Spanish
Hometown: Weslaco, Texas
Medical School: University of Washington School of Medicine
Graduate School: University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, M.A. (Geography)
Residency: Tacoma Family Medicine
Fellowships: University of Washington Faculty Development Fellowship
Clinical Interests: Medical care for the underserved, inpatient adult medicine, evidence-based medicine, point of care ultrasound
TFM’s combination of full-spectrum training and care for communities in need fits well with my own professional goals. Working with residents provides constant intellectual stimulation and supports my desire to keep learning.
I was drawn to family medicine by its variety, breadth, and social mission. Family medicine combines the challenge of diagnosis at the first point of contact, the opportunity to offer procedures when needed, and the imperative to consider the patient’s psychosocial context in the delivery of care.
I grew up in a small town on the Texas-Mexico border, where my father was a solo practice family doctor. The life of a family practitioner looked impossibly hard, and I knew I would never choose that profession. While leading an HIV/AIDS prevention project in South Texas and then working as an administrator for a community health center, I learned about doctors working as members of a team. I decided to attend medical school in my 30s with the goal of providing high-quality care to underserved populations. After residency, I worked for ten years in an FQHC, where I was able to use my Spanish to work with a largely Latino patient population. Later, I worked for a few years at Group Health Cooperative as part of a family medicine group with an active OB and newborn practice within a nationally recognized patient-centered medical home model. During that time, I served as part-time faculty at TFM, joining the faculty full-time in 2015.
My wife and I love living in Tacoma, where we attempt to farm our small city lot. The cool Puget Sound climate has not deterred us from growing as many tomatoes as possible. We enjoy traveling, hiking, Nordic skiing, cooking (and eating), and learning more about jazz, art, and other topics from our two grown kids.
Susan Rowe, PharmD
Languages: English and very rusty French
Hometown: Tacoma, Washington
Pharmacy School: University of Washington
Graduate School: University of Washington, Pharm D
Residency: General hospital pharmacy residency, Harris Hospital Methodist, Fort Worth, Texas
Clinical Interests: effective pharmacologic care, heart failure, diabetes, anticoagulation
TFM is a place where I can live my faith and care for the patients that may not have access to my care elsewhere. Every day, I get to practice being the best human I can be.
I have lived in Tacoma the majority of my life. I started my pharmacy career in the Critical Care units. I transitioned to TFM and ambulatory care so long ago, but have been happy and mentally stimulated by the change.
I enjoy cooking, sports, my pets, hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and reading.
Emily Traupman, PhD
Languages: English; French (conversational)
Hometown: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Graduate School: PhD in Clinical Health Psychology from the University of Utah
Residency: Pre-doctoral Internship at the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Fellowships: Post-doctoral Fellowship in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington; Behavioral Science & Family Systems faculty development Fellowship through STFM
Clinical Interests: Integrated Primary Care, Wellness, Health Equity/Cultural Competency in Healthcare, Patient-Catered Communication, Trauma-Informed Care
TFM has valued the importance of the biopsychosocial approach and the role of the Behavioral Scientist since its founding 40+ years ago. TFM’s mission fits well with my passion for serving underserved populations and ensuring the provision of culturally competent healthcare.
I was initially pre-med in undergrad but fascinated by my psychology courses and found a perfect marriage in health psychology. I believe true health and wellbeing cannot be achieved without including mental healthcare and enjoy working in medical settings where interdisciplinary care treats the entire patient. After 6 years of full-time clinical care in Health Psychology and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation programs, I am excited to be able to teach the next generation of family physicians in a biopsychosocial approach with a focus on clinician wellness. Working in medicine and serving the underserved is incredibly rewarding but can also have its challenges. To sustain a career in PCMHs/FQHCs, I believe building a foundation of wellness tools and strategies early on is imperative. Outside of work, I can be found walking my dog in parks throughout Pierce County, I am a regular yoga practitioner, and enjoy cooking, baking, and travel. I was drawn to both the water and mountains of the PNW, where I can ski, hike, boat and paddleboard.
John Van Buskirk, DO
Hometown: Buena Park, California
Medical School: College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (Western Health Sciences University)
Residency: Internship Botsford General Hospital, Farmington Hills, Michigan, then Tacoma Family Medicine
Fellowships: Faculty Development Fellowship, University of Washington Family Medicine Network
Clinical Interests: Palliative Medicine, Underserved patient care, ALSO Course Instructor
I am passionate about TFM’s mission to train physicians to provide excellent care and caring for underserved patients and their families. We have a very experienced and committed Faculty, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Obstetrics. We are able to attract excellent residents who share our commitment and passion
I enjoy the breadth and depth of Family Medicine. It allows tremendous flexibility in meeting the needs of individual patients, their families, and the community. I am very interested in addressing the Social Determinants of Health and acknowledging the impact that Adverse Childhood Events have on people’s overall health and well-being.
My approach is to keep in mind family-centered care and continue to focus on patient-oriented communication.
I appreciate my four years as a National Health Service Scholarship recipient serving at the Puyallup Tribal Health Authority Medical Clinic before coming to Tacoma Family Medicine. This helped me to appreciate the importance of diversity, discrimination, and political challenges in health care. I was active in the early days of the HIV epidemic and now serve as a champion for MAT. I have been honored to be a volunteer Medical Director and Board Member of the volunteer-run, free Neighborhood Clinic in our community for over 30 years.
I enjoy spending time with my wife of 40 years, and our two adult age sons and their families--hiking, Nordic and Alpine skiing, recreational kayaking, and working in the yard.