Meet Our Leadership

As a resident of our internal medicine program, you will interact with a diverse patient population and learn from our numerous faculty, who encompass the spectrum of subspecialities. One of the best ways to learn about a program is hearing from the people who live and work in it every day.

Three Residents

Learn from our residents about how the training at Wake Forest can be tailored to guide you toward and then help you succeed in the career of your interest.

Get to know our...

Gary Rosenthal, MD, FACP

Tinsley R. Harrison Professor and Chair

It is an honor to welcome you to the Department of Internal Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The Department, which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary, enjoys a rich heritage. Our founding chair, Tinsley Harrison, MD was an icon in American medicine. His prescient vision for excellence in the core missions of academic medicine – teaching, patient care and research – is deeply woven into the fabric of all that we do and serves as an inspiration for our medical students, residents and fellows. 

Gary Rosenthal, MDI am particularly proud of our residency program and clerkships, which emphasizes core clinical problem solving skills and prepare learners for lifetime learning and professional growth. The cornerstone of our educational programs is a commitment to teaching excellence among our faculty, who consistently win institutional and national teaching awards. Our programs provide trainees with exposure to the entire spectrum of subspecialties, while becoming highly competent in the skills and judgment required of the general internist. In many ways, our educational programs are the glue that bind faculty and staff across their diverse professional interests and that creates a strong sense of family. 

Our faculty also conduct groundbreaking research to elucidate the mechanisms of disease, to translate these findings to novel treatments and to develop innovative healthcare delivery models to improve patients’ health and wellbeing. Many of our faculty have led large national trials that have defined our current treatment of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and many types of cancer. 

The Department of Internal Medicine at Wake Forest is firmly committed to preparing trainees to thrive in a changing health care landscape and to shaping that landscape in ways that promote patient-centered high value care. Perhaps most importantly, the Department is committed to fostering an academic environment that embraces diversity, eliminates healthcare disparities and treats patients with the utmost respect and dignity. 

I encourage your to explore our website and to know our faculty, trainees and staff and the resources that are aligned to support each of our missions. 

Donna M. Williams, MD, FACP

Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency

Welcome to the Wake Forest School of Medicine Internal Medicine Residency Program website! I hope that the information provided here will give you a glimpse into the exceptional education provided here and of the amazing residents, faculty and staff who call our program home. We are so fortunate to be part of a cutting-edge academic medical center well known for high-quality and patient-centered care, educational innovation and translational and clinical research. In this environment, we are privileged to support residents during the most formative years of your careers. During these years of residency, you will meet patients who inspire you, attendings who mentor you in the career of your dreams and colleagues who support each other unconditionally. 

Donna Marie Williams, MDWe have a long tradition of comprehensive training in internal medicine at Wake Forest. Our faculty are top-notch teachers who role model the history, physical exam, clinical reasoning and communication skills that are critical for excellent patient care. We also realize that medical knowledge is ever-evolving, and we teach you how to critically review the literature and apply your new knowledge to patient care. Lifelong learning is necessary for all internists, and our program embodies this concept through our innovative teaching strategies which include point of care ultrasound training, simulation lab, Learning Health Systems seminars, Academic Half Day sessions and faculty-mentored quality improvement projects to name just a few opportunities for learning. All of these experiences add to the vast clinical exposure that our residents obtain across our clinical settings, including our large, tertiary care medical center here at Wake Forest, our community hospital in High Point and the VA in Kernersville.

Throughout your training here at Wake Forest, we provide unparalleled mentorship and guidance to promote your personal and professional growth as you build your career. We take pride in nurturing each resident as an individual with unique goals and interests. One way that we accomplish this is though our pathways in medical education, global health, research, clinical informatics, hospitalist training and point of care ultrasound, as well as our Primary Care Track. Each of these pathways provide opportunities for individual growth and mentorship outside of the comprehensive clinical education you receive. Additionally, we have an exceptionally rich academic environment where our residents find many opportunities to partner with faculty and fellows on research projects. Because of our unique research and pathway opportunities and the excellent clinical care provided here, our graduates are sought after for subspecialty fellowships, academic medicine positions and community practice.

Resident wellness is also critically important to our success, and we have multiple recurring programs, including those sponsored by our women in medicine interest group and our wellness committee, which ensure that you are supported by your residency family throughout your training. So, if you are looking for a program with a family feel, comprehensive clinical training, abundant research opportunities and an opportunity to personalize your training through participation in specialized pathways, you are in the right place! I invite you to read on and learn more about the Wake Forest Internal Medicine Residency Program and how we can help you achieve your goals.

Program Overview

Program Director Dr. Donna Williams, MD, FACP, Vice Chair for Education, Dr. Hal Atkinson and Department Chair, Dr. Gary Rosenthal speak to the strength and diversity of the training environment at Wake Forest.

Our Associate Program Directors

William Childs Lippert, MD, MPH

William Lippert, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Associate Program Director

I am a Cincinnati, Ohio, native who found my home here in Winston-Salem. During my residency training at the University of Kentucky, I was inspired to pursue a career in academic medicine so that I could guide residents during their most formative years of training. I joined as an academic hospitalist here at Wake Forest in 2018 and serve as one of the Associate Program Directors with a focus on inpatient education.

Since joining Wake Forest, I have been amazed with the tremendous opportunities – in all realms – offered to our internal medicine residents. The diverse training pathways, ranging from the Global Health Pathway to the Hospital Medicine Pathway, provide our residents unique training experiences that are not available in other internal medicine residency programs across the country. Also, the mentorship and support provided for all of our residents is truly second to none. Our goal is to support and train our residents into high-quality and high-functioning internists by tailoring their residency experience based on their goals.

Currently, I live in a suburb of Winston-Salem with my wife and two daughters. We love our friendly community and enjoy going to local parks in the area as well as the Dash games! We also enjoy being in close proximity to the mountains and beach, as well the temperate climate!

Karl Richardson, MDKarl Richardson, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Associate Program Director

After training at the University of Pennsylvania and then Vanderbilt University for fellowship, I was excited to join the Wake Forest University program to pursue a career in academic cardiology. The cutting-edge subspecialty medicine and clear commitment to personalized patient care housed in a collaborative and collegial academic medical center drew me here after training. The opportunity to work with an energetic and driven group of house officers attracted me to the residency leadership team.

At Wake Forest, our first goal is to train thoughtful and dedicated internists who are critically aware of the relevant literature and able to apply that evidence to best take care of their patients. This training is accomplished on general medicine services and bolstered through rich exposure to numerous subspecialty rotations. Rounding out this balanced internal medicine training, all residents will gain exposure to and directly participate in quality improvement projects on both the individual and departmental level. We take pride in providing comprehensive internal medicine training, and we are also excited that many of our residents choose to advance their career through subspecialty fellowships. We are committed to supporting this academic transition and all career interests through pointed mentorship and collaborative research opportunities. We are excited to celebrate the products of this mentorship every year, as so many residents present their research at national meetings, land that dream job out of residency, or match successfully into competitive fellowships across the country. 

We are proud of the diverse and comprehensive training offered by Wake Forest Internal Medicine, and we are excited to attract residents with a strong interest in academic medicine. We look forward to working with motivated house officers to craft the residency training that best suits their unique career goals.

Jessica Valente, MD, MPH

Jessica Valente, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Associate Program Director

After completing residency and chief residency at University of California-San Francisco, I joined faculty at Wake Forest in 2019. Wake Forest has helped craft my academic interests and career in a way I never imagined, and I am grateful to the inspiring learners I get to interact with daily.

Clinically, I work as the medical director for Care Plus, a high-intensity primary care model located at the Downtown Health Plaza for patients frequently admitted to the hospital. I have the honor of working with a creative, multidisciplinary team to address social determinants of health, complex chronic disease management and patient-centered care for patients who, too often, lack the resources to navigate a convoluted and challenging healthcare environment. 

My academic time is spent as Associate Program Director for Ambulatory Education as well as Program Director for the Primary Care track of the Internal Medicine Residency. The Primary Care track truly allows an individualized, mentored experience with ample exposure to ambulatory medicine across diverse settings. Our trainees are well prepared for leadership and careers focused on general medicine, whether in the community, academics, hospital or outpatient-based specialties. 

I truly believe in finding joy in outpatient medicine and prioritizing the patient-physician relationship, as well as supporting the strong teamwork with clinic staff and residents. In my free time, I enjoy exploring the trails and outdoor scene of Winston Salem with my husband and toddler.

Dustin Norton, MDDustin Norton, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Associate Program Director

Originally from Indiana, I moved to North Carolina in 2010 for internal medicine residency at Duke University. Having coached wrestling at the elementary through high school levels, I have always found joy in teaching, which led me to remain at Duke as a teaching faculty member in hospital medicine after residency. After three years in hospital medicine, I went on to fellowship training in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before joining the faculty here at Wake Forest in 2019.

My clinical time is divided between the medical intensive care unit, our pulmonary consultation service and supervising pulmonary fellows in the outpatient pulmonary clinic. My academic time consists of clinical and translational research in critical care as well as my role as Associate Program Director. In my free time, you can find me outside, be it in the mountains or on the golf course, or enjoying the restaurants, breweries and live music around Winston-Salem with my wife and two elementary-aged kids.

I love that the Department of Medicine here at Wake Forest is dedicated to supporting residents and faculty in building a career around their personal strengths and interests; I truly believe that this breeds a culture of support and collegiality that makes Wake Forest an excellent place to train and work. For our residents, this means defined mentorship that begins in your intern year and numerous opportunities to tailor your residency training that maximizes your potential to land that dream job or competitive fellowship match.  For me personally, this collegial support has allowed me to pursue medical education, including working with our pulmonary and critical care fellows and as a part of the leadership team for the internal medicine residency. I’m ecstatic to expand on my love of teaching clinical reasoning and evidence-based medicine as the Associate Program Director for Curriculum Development for the internal medicine residency.

Chris Kelly, MD

Chris Kelly, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Associate Program Director for POCUS

I am a North Carolina native and a former Wake Forest Internal Medicine resident and chief resident. I was inspired to pursue a career in academic medicine because of the incredible mentorship and experiences I had while I was a resident here. The supportive culture, innovative approach and family atmosphere that fosters camaraderie between residents and faculty convinced me that Wake Forest is the ideal place to continue my career as an academic general internist. Here at Wake, we take pride in the many accomplishments of our exceptional residents and we are dedicated to helping them achieve their career goals.

Clinically, I practice both inpatient and outpatient medicine and enjoy teaching at the bedside. Academically, the untapped potential for Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) within internal medicine excites me. I completed an ultrasound fellowship in 2021, but my passion for POCUS began as a resident who collaborated with faculty to develop the foundation of the innovative POCUS curriculum we have today. I currently serve as a special focus Associate Program Director for POCUS. I lead our POCUS curriculum and am the director of the POCUS Champion Pathway.

The goal of our POCUS curriculum is to make our residents proficient with this rapidly evolving tool while simultaneously refining their bedside skills in the traditional sense. We have a multimodal approach to POCUS education in which interactive workshops and didactics teach technique and reinforce important concepts, but the most essential learning occurs at the bedside of hospitalized patients. It is in the clinical setting where residents learn how to incorporate POCUS into the art and science of medicine.

Vice Chair for Education

Hal Atkinson, MD, MS, FACP

I am delighted to welcome you to the Wake Forest Internal Medicine Residency Program! As Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Internal Medicine and former residency director, I am proud of our exceptional training program and superb residency leadership team. As a graduate of the program myself, I am honored to be a part of the tradition of excellence that continues today with each graduating class. 

Hal Huntley Atkinson, MDIn my role as Vice Chair for Education, I help to oversee the integration of our educational programs within the Department across multiple training levels. Our residents are immersed in a highly effective academic teaching environment with exceptional faculty, fellows, co-residents and medical students who create an atmosphere of scholarly inquiry while providing the best care to their patients. It is a great pleasure to serve as a coach and advisor for the next generation of physicians who begin their careers in Internal Medicine here. 

One of the top strengths of the Wake Forest Internal Medicine Residency Program is the well-rounded clinical training that our residents enjoy in diverse specialties under the mentorship of nationally recognized experts in their fields. This is not only helpful in developing clinical proficiency as an internist, but it also allows residents the broad exposure that they need to make an informed decision about their ultimate career pathway. Our large academic health system and our 14 fellowship training programs provide ample opportunities for residents to continue their work or training here after residency, and many do just that.

We have all the key features that make us a great residency program --excellent well-rounded clinical training, abundant clinical research and scholarship and highly effective career mentoring and opportunities. These training components are embedded in a culture focused on wellness where we not only provide excellent care for our patients but we also care for and support each other every day. 

Career Pathways, Mentorship, and Academic Opportunities

Our residents describe unique academic and mentorship opportunities afforded by our varied training pathways.

Meet Our 2023-2024 Assistant Chiefs of Medicine

Kiersten Brown

Kiersten Brown, ACM 2023-2024

“When applying to residency, I was looking for a program that had a robust academic program with a diverse patient population that would prepare me well for a career after residency. I was also looking for a program with a collegial atmosphere where residents and faculty alike were excited to come to work every day, and I found that at Wake! Wake Forest offers not only a robust clinical setting with an impressive variety of pathology, nationally-recognized subspecialists and world-class research opportunities, but it does so in an environment where individuals respect one another, collaborate openly and are committed to clinical excellence. The program also allows residents the opportunity to pursue a wide variety of medical interests including research, global health, POCUS, medical education and advocacy, all while receiving excellent clinical training."

“In particular, I am interested in primary care and I have had excellent training in ambulatory medicine without limiting my inpatient or subspecialty experiences. I have also had great exposure to different primary-care clinics and I have been able to develop self-styled electives that allowed me to deeply dive into my particular areas of interest. Best of all are the attendings that I have had the opportunity to work with – they have provided such wonderful mentorship and their passion for outpatient medicine is truly inspiring!”

Kiersten Brown is originally from Chapin, South Carolina. She graduated from Furman University with an undergraduate degree in chemistry. She then obtained her medical degree at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville (USCSOMG) before heading to residency at Wake Forest. She is planning to pursue a career in general internal medicine with a focus in outpatient medicine after her chief residency year. Her favorite things about Winston-Salem are the Lowes grocery stores, breweries, food trucks, kayaking on Salem Lake, hiking and camping with her husband, and no traffic!

Matthew Ellis

Matthew Ellis, ACM 2023-2024

“While applying to residency during the 2020 cycle, my goal was to be a part of a program that is academically sound, cares for a diverse patient population and would allow me to build a family in and out of the hospital. I realized that Wake Forest Internal Medicine offers all these factors during my interview day. As residents at Wake Forest, we have ample opportunities to conduct research and join various pathways, such as Clinical Scholars in Informatics and POCUS (Point of Care Ultrasound), the Primary Care Track and the Health Equity Certification Program. Additionally, the attendings are a part of many groundbreaking research projects, such as the Sprint Trial. Winston-Salem is a diverse city, and we are exposed to diverse patient populations throughout residency, both in the hospital and in outpatient clinics, such as Downtown Health Plaza. The program does an excellent job of putting together each class. Due to this, I have formed lifelong relationships with the friends I made in the program. I have been blessed to match in a program that is extremely supportive of my life personally and professionally and I hope to pass along my experience to all future applicants.”

Matthew Ellis is from Lithonia, Georgia. He obtained his undergraduate degree in business administration with a minor in biology at Morehouse College. After graduation, he worked at his college’s premedical department as an administrative assistant while applying to medical school. He attended Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio, and plans to pursue a career in gastroenterology or general internal medicine with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, health disparities, technology in healthcare and business in medicine. His favorite things in Winston-Salem include cycling throughout the city, weightlifting at LA Fitness, trying out new restaurants with friends and traveling to the neighboring cities with his wife on the weekends.

Kathleen Herring

Kathleen Herring, ACM 2023-2024

“I chose Wake Forest for my internal medicine residency because of the collaborative environment and challenging but rewarding clinical experience. During my interview day, I felt welcomed by the residents in this large, academic tertiary care center. The residents impressed me with their vast medical knowledge and future career plans in subspecialties, public health, hospital medicine, primary care and academic medicine. I learned from my interview day that Wake Forest supports all types of residents and works with everyone to achieve their career goals in medicine. During my time in residency, I felt this support as early as my first clinic visit and my first days pre-rounding on the wards. I feel extremely privileged to have trained at Wake Forest and I look forward to passing on this experience to future doctors.”

Kathleen Herring is from Savannah, Georgia. She obtained her undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College in neurosciences. After graduating college, she taught high-school chemistry while applying for medical school. She attended the Medical College of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, and plans to pursue a career in general internal medicine with a focus on medical education, rural populations and advances in technology in healthcare. Her favorite things in Winston-Salem include watching her husband’s band play at the West End Public House, trying new pours at the Lesser Known Brewery and practicing yoga in Bailey Park.

Meehir Shah

Meehir Shah, ACM 2023-2024

“When I was a fourth-year medical student on the interview trail, there were several elements I was hoping to find in an internal medicine residency program. I value the feel and culture of a program, and I was immediately able to sense the collaborative and collegial environment created by faculty and residents during my interview at Wake Forest. This held true during my residency; I enjoyed working with friendly and supportive residents and faculty, and I always felt comfortable asking for help. In addition, I was looking for a program that would give me the tools and training to become a strong internist. I had an academically rigorous and robust training experience and cared for a wide variety of patients and pathologies. I have completed residency feeling confident in my ability to care for patients. Furthermore, I have received support and guidance in my pursuit of fellowship training through mentors and research opportunities. Lastly, I was looking for a program that was ‘couples friendly,’ as I couples matched with my wife, who applied to dermatology. Our program worked to coordinate our vacation time during all 3 years of residency. The Wake Forest Internal Medicine Residency Program cares about your success in medicine, but also about your wellness and life outside of work. I feel so proud and privileged to have matched and completed my IM residency here.”

Meehir Shah is originally from Union, New Jersey. He graduated from The College of New Jersey with an undergraduate degree in physics, focusing on biomedical studies, and a minor in public health. He then obtained his medical degree at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School before heading to residency at Wake Forest. He plans to pursue a career in pulmonary and critical care medicine after his chief residency year. His favorite things about Winston-Salem are the low cost of living, lack of traffic and the downtown area. In his free time, he enjoys playing with his dog, playing pick-up basketball and binge-watching Netflix reality TV shows.

Sarah Stern

Sarah Stern, ACM 2023-2024

“The Wake Forest Internal Medicine Residency Program stands out to me for several compelling reasons. The program offers comprehensive training at a tertiary academic center, equipping residents with the skills and experience necessary to excel and match competitively in all subspecialties. Moreover, it is at the forefront of resident clinical informatics education with the Clinical Scholars in Informatics Pathway—a residency informatics pathway that is among very few in the country. The program also prioritizes point-of-care ultrasound education, ensuring that handheld ultrasounds are readily available in all practice locations. I am deeply grateful for the support and mentorship from the APDs and faculty at Wake and the relationships I have made with my colleagues during my time as a resident here.”

Sarah Stern is from Orlando, Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree in basic biology and medicine at the University of Florida before going on to obtain her medical degree at the same institution. After completing her chief year, Sarah intends to pursue a career in general medicine and clinical informatics. Beyond her professional pursuits, she enjoys hiking alongside her dog, cooking and spending time with her son.