As I contemplate our current residents, one thing that most impresses me is the linguistic capacity of the Class of 2023, whose members are proficient in many languages other than English. I’ve observed the professional joy it brings to facilitate patient care in learned or natal languages. And I’ve noticed ways in which words matter to them and to their patients, sometimes regardless of the language in which they are spoken and sometimes because of it.
“Words matter” remains a major theme of our curriculum this year. It is central to our ongoing engagement with Missouri Hospital Association and Alive & Well as a pilot site to deploy trauma-informed care within our clinic. It informs departmental discussions around what words we use in patient care. It is the impetus behind hiring a new faculty to champion a medical Spanish curriculum beginning academic year 2023-24. It is the foundation of our Addiction Medicine/Medication Assisted Therapy curriculum. It is the reason our residents and faculty travel annually to Jefferson City, MO and Washington, DC for state and federal advocacy.
“Words matter” implies inclusion, compassion and a continual desire to evolve beyond the status quo, to “be good today but better tomorrow” in the words of Mercy’s founder Catherine McCauley. I hope you discern Mercy Family Medicine to be a good fit for your personal residency needs and I hope Mercy Family Medicine is the better for your interest in it. Whether we fit your needs or not, I welcome you to the specialty of Family Medicine and look forward to recognizing you as a future colleague!
Program Info & Resources
Family Medicine Faculty
In addition to their diverse clinical interests, our faculty are proud of their diverse heritages. Our multi-generational faculty include first and second generation Americans and first-in-family physicians.
Each resident is paired with a core faculty advisor on the basis of not only clinical interests but preferred communication and personality style, ensuring a mentor who can connect with them during the three years of training.
Grant Hoekzema, MD
I spent my younger years growing up in Seattle and then the Washington D.C. metro area, and still have family in both those locations, but have lived in St. Louis for 35 years now and consider it home. Family Medicine is the most rewarding and intellectually challenging specialty I could imagine, and the breadth of knowledge needed, and variety of relationships forged were what drew me to it. Despite having no Family Medicine department or clerkship at medical school (Washington Univ. in STL), I became committed to family medicine as a career through the influence of the local FMIG and a summer spent in the US Public Health Service. I have been actively involved at a national level with Family Medicine Residency leadership for most of my career in various roles, most recently as Chair of the Review Committee for Family Medicine at the ACGME, because I believe every patient deserves a well-trained Family Physician. I love most sports but particularly soccer. Our family is passionate Liverpool fans and eager to get on board with St. Louis City SC! We also love the outdoors and traveling, with a definite affinity for our national parks and East Africa. Our family of five kids and our daughter-in-law and one grand-daughter and large extended families give us great joy. I have spent my entire career at Mercy Family Medicine in St. Louis and as its Department Chair, I am committed to pushing us to lead with our serve and be better than we once were!
Sarah Cole, DO
My father, a teacher, was the first in his family to graduate college. My mother, a second-generation American, became a nurse after her father told her only men go to medical school. They raised me to value health care and education and so here I am, a physician teacher! A native of St. Louis, I left for 10 years to train in rural MO, Cleveland, OH and Chicago, IL before returning home. I specialize in family medicine so I can celebrate comprehensive, continuity of care with community members of all ages in a way that also incorporates osteopathic philosophy. I am actively involved in the MO Academy of Family Physicians and the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors. The person whose support makes all this possible is the dude that I live with, my husband Matt. He likes to think he’s the homebody to my travel-loving adventurer but really he’s my partner in our biggest adventures of all: co-parenting two teenage daughters, and rescuing stray animals.
Associate Program Director
Stefanie White, MD
"Every patient will be seen eventually!" I remember when my seasoned senior resident told me this as a frazzled intern, and the philosophy of taking each patient one at a time stuck with me. I became a family physician because I love the relationships and trust we have the opportunity to form over time. My favorite clinic days are filled with well-baby exams, teaching colposcopy, managing chronic conditions, working on our clinic's quality improvement projects - and of course, teaching and mentoring residents.
I'm St. Louis born-and-raised, having gone to SLU for medical school, leaving for residency in Kansas, and finally returning to Missouri to join Mercy Family Medicine as faculty in 2017. I have also completed UNC's Faculty Development Fellowship before becoming Associate Program Director in 2020.
I'd probably be voted "most likely to still be in a good mood while running behind". I may also be nominated for: Most likely to be listening to Spotify in the supervisor room, most likely to be seen with a cup of coffee in hand, and most excited about the physiology of the menstrual cycle!
I firmly believe troubles can be solved by one, or all, of the following: Open hearts, open minds, and open trails. If there is one wisdom I hope I’ve instilled in my daughters, it’s that expanding and exploring in all forms can only be of benefit. Perhaps this is why I love my role in this program; where deeper thinking is encouraged and I am the witness of continuous growth, not just in our residents, but in our faculty and staff alike. I’ve been fortunate to stumble my way into this blended ‘family’ of inspiring differences and unique ideas. These folks may teach medicine, but I’ve certainly learned much more than that.
The faculty of the Family Medicine Residency Program includes 9 family physicians, three clinical pharmacists and one behavioral scientist. In addition, the size and scope of the Medical Center enable residents to learn from a variety of faculty from other outstanding departments.
Name: Peter Danis, MD
Medical School: St Louis University
Undergrad: Georgetown University
Hometown: St Louis
Hobbies/Passion: Practice Management and Quality Improvement. Coaching and mentoring students and residents in the office. Medical mission work in El Salvador. Helping women with gynecologic and reproductive issues with NaProTECHNOLOGY.
When not working, I enjoy spending time with my wife, gardening, tennis, being a grandfather, and growing in my spiritual faith.
Why Family Medicine: Everyone thought that I was going to be a pediatrician, but I loved the rest of the family too much to limit myself to just the kids!
Name: Serin Phruttitum M.D.
Medical School: University of Missouri-Kansas City
Undergrad: University of Missouri-Kansas City
Hometown: Jesup, Iowa
Hobbies/Passions: I enjoy spending time with my family – hiking, golfing, playing tennis, traveling, and exploring various St. Louis cuisines. My wife, two sons, two cats, and a pet turtle keep me happy and grounded during this COVID-19 pandemic. I am a big Kansas City Chiefs and Iowa Hawkeyes fan. During my free time, I spend many hours watching movies in my giant home theater and listening to jazz music on my ridiculously large stereo system.
Why Family Medicine: I spent my early childhood in Thailand and then in a small town in Iowa where my father served as both the town family doctor and general surgeon. Growing up in a medical family, I was expected to pursue a medical career, so naturally I gravitated toward engineering. Fortunately, I was accepted to a combined BA/MD 6-year medical school during my senior year of high school and grudgingly, I accepted this career path. I chose family medicine over general surgery when I realized that I can help heal the whole person/family rather than performing a quick "cure" of a disease process as a surgeon. Due to my two years of general surgery training prior to transitioning to family medicine, I acquired skills to perform and teach many types of clinic based surgical procedures. I really value the opportunity to use all my family medicine/surgical training to provide comprehensive obstetrics care, pediatric care, and adult medical care. It is great to be a family medicine specialist to provide care for ALL instead of being a partialist (specialist).
Elizabeth Verna, DO
I grew up in Syracuse, NY and completed my education in NY with my undergrad at Hartwick College and medical school at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine (now NYIT-COM). Growing up I never imagined living anywhere else but I have always appreciated traveling and learning about new cultures and people. My husband grew up in California and has similar nomadic tendencies. This led to us moving through NY, Mississippi and finally settling down in St. Louis. I love family medicine because it gives me similar opportunity for diversity in the patient populations I take care of. My interests include women’s health, pediatrics and hospital medicine and family medicine allows me to incorporate all of these into my practice.
Christian Verry, MD, CAQSM
I chose medicine because I wanted to know everything. I chose Family Medicine because I wanted to do everything: After graduating with my degree in physical therapy and working for a brief stint as a therapist I returned to medical school. Great mentoring and a desire to be able to care for all patients lead me to Family Medicine. A passion for physical activity and sports then saw me pursuing a Sports Medicine fellowship. When I'm not seeing patients in my primary care and sports medicine clinics, you'll find me riding my bike or trying to keep up with the energy of my three young boys who love to run circles around me and my wife.
Lauren Wilfling, DO
Greetings! My home in Family Medicine and here at Mercy is in large part due to my inability (or unwillingness?!) to exclude parts of medicine I love from my practice; I couldn't imagine not being able to see kids or adults or pregnant people and the only field that affords me the luxury of that variety is in Family Medicine. After doing all my medical school, residency, and OB fellowship in Kansas City, I returned home to St Louis to start my practice and grow my own family. Being faculty at Mercy makes it possible to practice both outpatient and inpatient medicine while sharing my love of pregnancy and post-partum care with the next generation of family medicine physicians. When I'm not doctoring, I'm checking out good restaurants, sneaking in a quick getaway trip, or watching kids sports with my husband and two young children.
Clinical Pharmacy Faculty
Erica Crannage, PharmD
I'm a proud pharmacy nerd! I love everything about medications from selecting the right drug for the right patient to discussing mechanisms of action and exploring the unique history of drug development. When I'm not in the clinic caring for patients, you'll find me teaching at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy at UHSP. I'm a Midwest girl through and though. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, but following my completion of my pharmacy training in Iowa, decided to transplant to St. Louis. After spending over a decade here I have decided to make it my new hometown; however, I will never understand the area's obsession with where people went to high school. I've very active within the Missouri Pharmacist Associate and American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP), having recently finished my term as the Chair of the ACCP Education and Training Practice Research Network. Outside of work, I'm busy caring for my two young children with my inpatient pharmacist husband and attempting to hone my baking and cooking skills.
Margaret Lemp, Psy.D.
Dr. Lemp graduated from Adler University with her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She completed her residency in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a super fan and major advocate of integrated care and wellness. She tries to practice what she preaches through baking, listening to audiobooks, and singing with her toddler twins. Her favorite dishes to bake are quiche (On Wisconsin!) and chocolate chip banana bread. The last good book she listened to was Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age by Bruce Feiler. The song she is singing on repeat with her twins is “Five Little Pumpkins” by Super Simple Songs.