Department of Pediatrics

Pediatric Cardiology Fellow Life


Ryan Bishop, First Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellows office. Getting to work by the most supportive co-fellow group I could have imagined is an absolute joy. I also loved getting to ECHO while on-call from day one of fellowship with a fantastic instructional support system.
Outside of work, I spend my time: Jogging on my local hike and bike trail, walking my dog, walking to local coffee shops/restaurants just a few minutes from our place in the Heights.
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Communities I identify with: dog owners, husbands, basketball players, musicians, Texans, beach-goers.

Natalie Craik, First Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellows office. One of the attendings I interviewed with (and who trained at Baylor) told me he accepted a position at another hospital, in part, because every time he walked past the fellows' office and heard them laughing, he had 'FOMO'.
Outside of work, I spend my time: Playing with my infant son, "hiking" parking garages with my son in a baby carrier, running, cooking 
Hometown: Austin, Texas 
Communities I identify with: Mothers of human and rescue dogs, wives…of surgeons, long-distance spouses, Texans, Texans who left for residency in Phoenix and kinda wished Houston had more than 30 feet change in elevation, lovers of outdoors, hikers, born-again runners (didn't run much during residency), cyclist commuters, engineers, introverts, ex-Peds chiefs.

Julie Lovin, First Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: Learning from physicians who give extraordinary care to their patients and gain deep gladness from what they do as well as having mentors and co-fellows who genuinely care about me and make work an awesome place to be!
Outside of work, I spend my time: Eating fajitas at Lupe Tortilla, drinking beer at Baileson, and taking my dog to Galveston.
Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
Communities I identify with: Grace Bible Church, UVA Wahoos, crossword puzzlers, hikers, campers.

John Shabosky, First Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: So many patients!
Outside of work, I spend my time: Visiting national parks, riding roller coasters, attempting to cook.
Hometown: McHenry, Ill. (50 miles northwest of Chicago)
Communities I identify with: Midwesterners, dog dads, childless millennials, first generation physicians

John Tadros, First Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: My co-fellows! Also the breadth of clinical and research opportunities in a friendly and supportive environment.
Outside of work, I spend my time: With family and friends, playing the piano, playing/ watching basketball.
Hometown: Amman, Jordan
Communities I identify with: Jordanians, musicians, sports enthusiasts, fellow cardiology nerds. 

Ran Xiao, First Year

Why I chose BCM/TCH: When looking at cardiology programs, I wanted a center that saw it all and at a volume that would guarantee I had not only the breadth but also the depth of experience to be prepared for a career in cardiology. 
Favorite part of fellowship: The fellows and attendings. Never have I met such a cohesive group of Fellows that supported each other both inside and outside of the hospital. I feel so lucky to now be a part of this big family!
Career goals/ambitions: ACHD
Surprises about Houston: The food scene. Unbelievable the diversity and quality of restaurants here. 
Outside of work, I spend my time: Playing with my dog, running, playing tennis, learning how to keep house plants alive. 
Hometown: Several; was born in Hangzhou, China. Grew up in Lexington, Ky. and the suburbs of Chicago. Go Bears!
Communities I identify with: Midwesterners, first generation immigrants, Chinese-Americans, volunteer-corps members.  

Michael Bruno, Second Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellows' office! The atmosphere here is amazing with tons of camaraderie and support/teamwork. There are also so many funny things happening throughout the day, and the best snacks around. 
Outside of work, I spend my time: Biking around to all my favorite Houston coffee shops, parks, beer gardens, and restaurants. Also reading by the pool, working out, and making the occasional spontaneous camping/road trip. 
Hometown: Amesbury, Mass.
Communities I identify with: bike commuters, New Englanders, skiers, first generation physicians.

Ryan Byrne, Second Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellows. This group is incredibly hard working, compassionate, and fun. Things our fellow crew is good at: making each other laugh, being there for each other inside and outside of the hospital, teaching each other about cardiology, teaching each other about life.
Outside of work, I spend my time: With my family, working in the yard, or going on runs.
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Communities I identify with: Husbands, fathers, girl dads, amateur landscapers, book worms, sports enthusiasts, Catholics.

Patrick Connell, Second Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: My co-fellows. We are a big family. We support each other when things get difficult and have lots of fun together both in the office and outside of work. 
Outside of work, I spend my time: Playing with my children and spending time with my wife. Playing Dungeons and Dragons. 
Hometown: Somers, Conn.
Communities I identify with: New Englanders, fathers, first-generation college graduates, first-generation physicians, physician-scientists, pet owners, people who live in the suburbs, Dungeons and Dragons nerds.

Teddy Jones, Second Year

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellow-centric culture at the Heart Center is second to none. Cardiology fellows are universally respected amongst attendings and given the trust and leeway to develop quickly through experience. We are consistently spoiled with support from a leadership team that prizes our fellowship as an integral part of our department.
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellows' office. It's like a Room of Requirement (for my Harry Potter fans out there) - it always gives you what you need. Whether its congratulations on nailing a challenging surgical presentation, commiseration after a long call night, or countless irreverent inside jokes, the fellow's office is always the best place in the hospital and filled with incredible people.
Career goals /ambitions: Cardiovascular genetics
This surprised me about Houston: The incredibly diverse dining scene. It feels like there are several new James Beard Award nominees or winners every year, and my wife and I are passionate about spending far too much of our disposable income on food.
Outside of work, I spend my time: Running and biking so that I can eat more of Houston's food!
Hometown: Palo Alto, Calif.

Ruthie Morrison, Second Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: Hands down the people. Our fellowship program is a huge family, and we do whatever we can to support each other. 
Outside of work, I spend my time: I enjoy cycling and playing tennis, but most recently I have gotten into pickleball! It is so fun! I also love exploring the diverse food scene in Houston and attempting to cook myself. 
Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.
Communities I identify with: UVA Hoos, Christian, terrible singer, lover of food and outdoors.

Michelle Pelka, Second Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: My favorite part of TCH fellowship is the endless opportunities for experiences/learning and how cool my co-fellows are. 
Outside of work, I spend my time: With my dog, by the pool, trying new restaurants, seeing family/friends.
Hometown: Chicago-land area 
Communities I identify with: dog mom, midwesterners, lovers of outdoors.

Malena Gutierrez, Third Year

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: I learn best by doing, so a high-volume fellowship was a must, and there's a reason TCH is world-renowned in Cardiac care. Truly, what made the final decision was the feel of a supportive group of fellows, with different backgrounds, personalities, lifestyles, who were happy to be here and work together.
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellows. You are welcomed by a supportive, active, energetic group of people who will teach you, help you and guide you, while letting you explore the field at your own pace.
Career goals /ambitions: EP stole my heart, with medical education as a strong second. 
This surprised me about Houston: The green areas. I was surprised to find so many parks, trails and outdoor to-dos. 
Outside of work, I spend my time: Anything outdoors, watching "Friends," eating out (or dining in) with my co-fellows, on FaceTime with family and friends far away.
Hometown: Lima, Peru
Communities I identify with: Peruvians, international physicians, multicultural families/relationships, Spanish speakers, dog lovers, volleyball players and soccer watchers.

Sonia Kaushal, Third Year

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: I wanted to train at a high-volume institution where I would to learn by doing and get exposed to a wide variety of conditions.
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: My co-fellows, they're some of the smartest and kindest people I know.
Career goals /ambitions: HF/Transplant, with an interest in QI
This surprised me about Houston: The food scene! It's crazy how as a city Houston continues to grow and it feels like there's always something new to try out.
Outside of work, I spend my time: Exploring coffee shops and restaurants, spending time with friends, and planning my next trip.
Hometown: North Brunswick, NJ
Communities I identify with: Northeasterners, hikers, lovers of the outdoors, amateur photographers, foodie want-to-be.

Melodie Lynn, Third Year

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: I wanted a busy program where I would get exposure to the most pathology in three short years. I really enjoyed my interview day and thought the fellows I met seemed like great humans. I am originally from Texas, so being closer to family was also a nice perk.
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The other fellows! We are like a big family.
Career goals /ambitions: Heart Failure/Cardiomyopathy/Cardiac Transplant. I would like to work at an academic institution because I like teaching and want to make young minds interested in the great field of pediatric cardiology.
This surprised me about Houston: There is more green space in Houston than I thought. I really like being outdoors and did a lot of hiking in residency, so was pleasantly surprised that there are some pretty cool outdoor spaces not too far from the hospital.
Outside of work, I spend my time: I like to spend time with friends and family. I really enjoy being outside, so if I can combine friend/family time with outdoor time even better!
Hometown: Sweetwater, Texas
Communities I identify with: mothers of human and dogs, wives, Texans, adoptees, lovers of outdoors, hikers.

Jillian Olsen, Third Year

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: The obvious takeaway from my interview day was that everyone at TCH is outrageously friendly, kind, generous, and brilliant. I knew fellowship would be hard, and wanted to surround myself with people who would make me want to come to work every day. I also knew the patient volume at TCH would give me unmatched exposure to even the rarest forms of congenital heart disease.
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellows' office. I've never laughed as hard nor learned as much as I have in that room.
Career goals /ambitions: Critical care fellowship followed by (assuming someone will hire me), working as a cardiac intensivist.
This surprised me about Houston: People really do run in this heat, and queso is delicious on literally everything.
Outside of work, I spend my time: Binging on true crime podcasts, acquiring used gym equipment for my garage gym, getting to know my air fryer.
Hometown: El Cerrito, Calif.
Communities I identify with: Californians, first generation physicians, nomads (Houston is my seventh city since high school), dancers, rescue pet owners.

Amna Qasim, Third Year

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: It has one of the highest volumes where I would get to see almost everything in the three years of training - and that also in my favorite city - couldn't have had it any better.
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The people - one of the nicest group I have ever worked with.
Career goals /ambitions: Academic pediatric cardiology and Non-Invasive Imaging. 
This surprised me about Houston: The weather - can get from hot to cold in a few hours.
Outside of work, I spend my time: Spending time with family and friends, going for walks/runs, traveling, painting and reading. 
Hometown: Karachi, Pakistan
Communities I identify with: Desi (Indian/Pakistani), Muslims, painters, foodies, first gen physicians, Bollywood movie fans

Doaa Shahbah, Third Year

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: I chose TCH as it is one of the biggest and most amazing pediatric cardiology fellowships, number one nationwide, with a very busy and strong cardiology environment that will heavily enrich my knowledge and experience.
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: Friendly, very supportive and encouraging environment.
Career goals/ambitions: Interventional cath. Plan to go back to my hometown and establish a unit in my hospital. 
This surprised me about Houston: Interesting parks and great diversity, more than I expected.
Outside of work, I spend my time: Jogging, hanging out with family and friends.
Hometown: Zagazig, Sharkia, Egypt. It is a hub of cotton and corn trade in Egypt and Sharkia is famous for its peoples' generosity.
Communities I identify with: mothers, wives, Egyptians, lovers of outdoors, joggers

Stephen Williams, Third Year

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: The people here are brilliant and enthusiastic teachers. Plus the volume and exposure to all forms of both common and exceedingly rare congenital heart disease is invaluable. I wanted to be comfortable taking care of any physiology and learn from the best. 
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The love and support from all of my co-fellows. So much of our fellowship experience is shaped by who we work with every day and the fellows office is full of learning, laughing, and uplifting each other.
Career goals and ambitions: Fourth year advanced imaging training followed by a balanced academic practice. 
This surprised me about Houston: The amount of diversity continues to grow and the food scene does not disappoint.  
Outside of work, I spend my time: Chasing three crazy tornadoes around my house whom I call children. Traveling with the family. 
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Communities I identify with: Texans, husbands, fathers, first generation physicians.

Emily Backes, Fourth Year (EP)

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: Clinical volume - training is best time to get exposure to everything. Location - fellowship is hard wherever you are. Do it in a place you'll have support!
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: My phenomenal co-fellows ! They are bomb and the best people I have ever met.
Career goals /ambitions: To have exceptional clinical knowledge and judgment in whichever field I choose, and to be a tireless patient/family advocate.
This surprised me about Houston: The humidity! I haven't had a good hair day in two years.
Outside of work, I spend my time: frequenting Houston's many breweries/beer gardens/patios, bullying my co-fellows into running with me, cycling on our extensive trail system, and facilitating fellowship social events (ask Judson who makes the best margarita).
Hometown: Marshalltown, Iowa

Lindsay Eilers, Fourth Year (Cath)

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: I chose the BCM/TCH Cardiology fellowship because of the people. When I visited, I learned that not only did this fellowship have exceptional leaders in every field, but also the faculty and the fellows are incredibly smart, hardworking and most importantly fun people!
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: My co-fellows! We have so much fun together in the fellows' office and also outside of work. 
Career goals /ambitions: Interventional Cardiology 
This surprised me about Houston: Each section of the city has its own personality and feels like a small town.
Outside of work, I spend my time: With my son and my husband. We love spending time outdoors.
Hometown: Houston, Texas

Vincent Gonzalez, Fourth Year (ACHD)

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: I wanted to train at a large institution with high volume and exposure to the full breadth of congenital heart disease. I felt that Texas Children's Hospital would allow me to learn by seeing and doing, in addition to being around a great group of hard-working professionals. 
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: I enjoy the teamwork mentality at Texas Children's and working with my fantastic group of co-fellows.
Career goals /ambitions: I am planning to pursue advanced training in adult congenital heart disease and will likely stay within clinical academia.
This surprised me about Houston: Being from California and having lived in the Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast, I was a bit wary about moving to the Lone Star State. However, my family and I were pleasantly surprised at the affordability, diverse restaurant scene, and seasonable weather (for at least half of the year when it's not swelteringly hot).
Outside of work, I spend my time: Playing with my three children and spending time with my wife, working on my golf game, and attempting to be a mixologist by trying new cocktail recipes.
Hometown: San Diego, Calif.

Kevin Wilkes, Fourth Year (Imaging)

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: I chose this program mostly because of the people. I did my residency here and knew the fellows and attendings are some of the most intelligent and friendly cardiologists there are. It's a referral center where, as a fellow, I could see a large volume of both common and rare pathology and get plenty of hands-on experience.
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: My co-fellows are amazing. They are a compassionate, brilliant, and hilarious group of people that I learn from every day. I know I can count on them, inside and outside the hospital.
Career goals /ambitions: Advanced imaging
Outside of work, I spend my time: Primarily exploring Houston restaurants or hanging out with my co-fellows. 
Hometown: Shreveport, La.

Anna Venardos, Fifth Year (ACHD)

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: One of the top programs in the country, huge volume. Be closer to my family who live in Ausitn.  
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship:  Co-fellows, this program chooses wonderful people.
Career goals /ambitions: ACHD! Hopefully eventually work as faculty here.
This surprised me about Houston: So much good food to try! Diverse population means there's also a wide variety of things to do, and neighborhoods to explore. Cost of living is really manageable too.   
Outside of work, I spend my time: sewing, painting, trying to learn guitar. We go to concerts or plays or live comedy whenever we can (pre-COVID).
Hometown: Houston, Texas (Clear Lake really)