Zachary Ankney, MD
Medical School: Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pa.
Undergraduate:  Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Pa.

Born in Somerset, Pa., growing up in Johnstown, Pa., living in Indiana, Pa. where I completed undergraduate work, and with family in the Pittsburgh area, I had many reasons to look for a residency program in Western Pennsylvania.  One of the most difficult aspects of completing medical school at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia was being away from my tight-knit family in the Appalachian Mountains of Western Pennsylvania.  I didn't want to compromise on the quality of a family medicine residency program to be closer to home.  Fortunately, I didn't have to with the Excela Latrobe Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program.  While a medical student at Jefferson, I was blessed to have an opportunity to participate in the Dr. Andrew Bagby Scholarship Program at Excela Health between my first and second years.  The program allowed me to experience many different specialties throughout the health system while encountering the kindness and instruction of numerous physicians.  As a third- and fourth-year medical student, I was able to complete my family medicine rotation at Latrobe (one of the most popular rotations for Jefferson students, for good reason!) and family medicine outpatient sub-internship at Excela's Saltsburg Family Medicine office in Indiana County.  The caring faculty and their passion for instruction continued during these two rotations as the quality of the residency program became clear.  Now that I'm a member of the Latrobe Family Medicine team, I'm glad to say that the excellent teaching in the program has continued.  Dr. Michael Semelka, program director, has been wonderful to work with and is cognizant of resident educational needs while maintaining the balance in a humane, yet rigorous, residency experience.  Those ideals are also exhibited by numerous members of the faculty and residents, where helping others to succeed as a team is the norm.  The Latrobe Family Medicine Program fosters a diverse education experience to prepare a resident for many different aspects of medicine, whether a resident would like to go into outpatient family medicine, hospitalist medicine, emergency medicine or sports medicine (even offering an opportunity to spend time with the Pittsburgh Steeler's team physicians during training camp at Saint Vincent College!).  Since being back in the town where my grandfather worked (now retired from Kennametal), it is quite apparent that the Latrobe Family Medicine Residency Program is a real gem in a town that steel helped to build.


Yaw Fordjour, DO
Medical School: Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Blacksburg, Va.
Undergraduate: Jacobs University, Bremen-Bremen, Germany

I chose Latrobe for two reasons: The excellence of the program and the warmth of its residents and staff.  During my two visits to the area, I was met by residents and staff who were eager to help you every step of the way to make an excellent transition.  The program director sincerely described the program as 'what you see is what you get' and I believe so far that he has been right.  Growing up in Ghana, a nation of cultural multiplicity, I always found myself at the intersection of culture and medicine.  Therefore, coming to Latrobe, a town steeped in culture and history was a natural transition.  Its rural nature makes the town a perfect fit for me.  Besides its unique historic location, Latrobe is also less than an hour away from the hustle and bustle of a big city should one desire the traffic.  The program's incredible perks combined with its excellence made my choice very easy.  I'm excited to be part of this new family!


Catherine Kananen, DO
Medical School: Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Erie, Pa.
Undergraduate:  The Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa.

When I began choosing programs to interview with for residency, I was looking for an unopposed program that would allow me to keep as many doors open post-graduation as possible.  Most importantly, I was looking for a program that was supportive yet challenging, one providing the mentorship that would allow me to grow as a physician.  Growing up in central Pennsylvania with an interest in underserved medicine, I am glad I have the opportunity to train here in the next three years.


Margaret Karcher, DO
Medical School: Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Erie, Pa.
Undergraduate: Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Ind.

I chose Excela Health for residency because I was immediately impressed by the kindness and genuine enthusiasm of everyone involved with the program.  I felt that by completing a residency here, I would receive a rigorous, well-rounded education in a friendly and welcoming environment.  I wanted to become a family doctor because I wanted to develop a wide knowledge base, so I was thrilled to find a residency program where every aspect of the education was treated as a priority.  Most importantly however, I felt that the physicians and residents emulated the empathy, compassion and generosity I hope to develop as I train to become a physician.  Although I am not from the area, Latrobe is a very peaceful place to live, and I look forward to getting to know the city of Pittsburgh and exploring the Laurel Highlands.


John Kopko, DO
Medical School: Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Erie, Pa.
Undergraduate: University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Greensburg, Pa.

I knew there was something special about Latrobe after my first week rotating here as a medical student.  The residents were a different breed of people than those I had been used to.  Not only were they well trained and highly intelligent, they were people you could talk to ... about life, family, football ... anything.  Latrobe residents are the kind of physicians who know their patients' stories as well as their charts, who can inspire someone to live healthier, and whose office visits end with a handshake or a hug.  Since I joined the Family Medicine team, it feels like being accepted into a new family.


Michael Nieto, MD
Medical School: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston,Texas
Undergraduate: University of Texas - Pan American, Edinburg, Texas

Choosing the Latrobe Family Medicine Residency was a pretty easy decision for me.  It met everything I was looking for in a residency program.  It is an unopposed program, so I don't have to compete for complex patients and procedures.  The program's culture is one that emphasizes camaraderie, good work-life balance, autonomy, and a nurturing and supportive learning environment.  The resident housing and ability to take call from home were added perks that drew me to the program as well.  This is a strong rural program known for graduating great family physicians, and I am confident in my decision to come here.


Ryan Semko, DO
Medical School: Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia, Pa.
Undergraduate:  Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, Pa.

I chose the Latrobe Family Medicine Residency for multiple reasons.  Growing up about an hour away, I knew I wanted to come back to Western Pennsylvania for my residency training, and my wife and I both felt that the sense of community in Latrobe would be a good fit for both of us.  The one quality that stood out to me about this program was something I witnessed during my interview, and that is the relaxed and jovial camaraderie among the residents.  It is an environment that makes you feel instantly comfortable. I knew the program's reputation and long history of developing strong family physicians would create an environment conducive to learning and professional development.  Another reason I chose the program was how genuinely friendly and welcoming the attending physicians and staff are.  And there is a strong commitment to teaching among the faculty.  I believe that when choosing a family medicine residency program, it would be very difficult to find a more well-rounded program than Latrobe.


David Yuna, DO
Medical School: West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, Lewisburg, West Va.
Undergraduate:  Bethany College, Bethany, West Va.

I really was attracted to the Latrobe Family Medicine Residency for a couple of reasons.  I was looking for a small community-based, unopposed program that was near my home in Pittsburgh.  Western Pennsylvania has a good number of these programs but Latrobe stood out to me.  I could tell that the current residents were happy with where they were and satisfied with the lifestyle the residency provided, which was an encouraging sign to me.  After meeting with some of the attending physicians and the program director, I could tell they were very invested in the program and sought to develop strong physicians.  Considering these factors, along with the close-proximity housing the program provided to the residents, and other generous amenities, choosing Latrobe was an easy decision.