Meet Your Interns 2021, part 1

We are proud to present the incoming Intern Class of 2021. We wanted to take the opportunity to go a little past the names and faces and learn a couple things about them. We asked them each to tell us a little bit about why they chose Internal Medicine at Iowa for their residency. And, now that they have been here a couple months, what they like about living in Iowa City or working at University of Iowa Health Care. We will introduce them a few at a time each week for the next couple months. Welcome to Iowa!


Rachel Anderson, MD

Hometown: Cook, Minnesota

Medical school: University of Minnesota

“Why Iowa”: I was attracted to the residency programs commitment to education and teaching – including teaching residents to be effective teachers.

What I like about Iowa City: The patients, staff, and faculty are so welcoming and kind. I have loved exploring the hiking and trail-running places around the city with my dog, Nala. So far Squire Point has been our favorite!

Jeff Johnson, MD

Hometown: Tallahassee, Florida/St. Peter, Minnesota

Medical school: Florida State University

“Why Iowa”: I felt that the focus of the program was on the residents and their wellbeing.

What I like about Iowa City: The surprising number of great vegetarian restaurants/options. Additionally, the supportive environment at UIHC has been incredibly helpful during the transition from medical student to resident.

Truman Nguyen, MD

Hometown: Garden Grove, California

Medical School: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

“Why Iowa”: I liked having exposure to two subspecialty clinics on our Y weeks. A lot of faculty in Wisconsin also told me that Iowa was a great place to train and had very positive reviews regarding the culture and learning here. Most importantly, all of the interview faculty were incredibly kind and seemed to be genuinely interested in me as a person. What especially won me over was talking about cheesecake with Dr. Suneja!

What I like about Iowa City: Downtown is fun to explore and everything is conveniently located. Food has also been good, and there is a decent selection of Asian groceries available here. 

John Smestad, MD, PhD

Hometown: Rochester, Minnesota

Medical school: Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine

“Why Iowa”: Strong academic IM program with positive culture and commitment to resident education

What I like about Iowa City: I’ve enjoyed the livability of the area and the many opportunities for recreation, which support my personal success and rejuvenation outside of work.

Lauren Zabel, MD

Hometown: Lawrence, Kansas

Medical school: University of Kansas School of Medicine

“Why Iowa”: I’ve lived in the Midwest for almost my entire life and always planned to leave for residency. As a med student I’d heard many good things about Iowa’s internal medicine program but it wasn’t initially on my radar. Iowa was my first interview and I remember being really nervous, but after meeting some of the residents that all went away. They were all very easy to talk with and I could tell they felt supported by the program and had good relationships with faculty and each other. My interviews with the PD and APD were so fun and relaxed. We talked about our mutual love for The Great British Baking Show and Harry Potter. They really wanted to get to know me as more than just a résumé. I realized that any program that prioritized connection like this was one where I could thrive as a resident. I remember closing my laptop at the end of the interview day and thinking: “I could probably stop interviewing now.” My gut feeling about Iowa was so strong that it it completely changed my decision to leave the Midwest, and I have not regretted it for a minute.

What I like about Iowa City: Things I love about living in Iowa City – Paddle boarding at Terry Trueblood, walking across the river on my way to work, hiking at Hickory Hill Park, the Friday night concert series, free outdoor movies every Saturday, the downtown farmers market (especially the coffee and pastries!), the block party, The Haunted Bookshop.

Things I love about UIHC – Really great sculptures and artwork, free lunch at noon conference, food trucks on Thursdays, very supportive program, chief residents and wonderful co-residents.

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