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Faculty and Fellows

Hunter Groninger, MD FACP FAAHPM, Program Director of Palliative Fellowship at MedStar WHC


Hunter Groninger, MD FACP FAAHPM, Program Director

Dr. Groninger serves as Director of the Section of Palliative Care at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and as an Associate Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University. He also serves as Program Director for the MedStar-Georgetown Interprofessional Palliative Medicine Fellowship Program. He grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, completed his undergraduate degree at Princeton University and master's degree at the University of Paris-Sorbonne. After completing his medical degree and training in internal medicine at the University of Virginia, Dr. Groninger completed a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine at Capital Hospice in Washington, DC. Dr. Groninger is also a Master Facilitator with the Education for Palliative and End-of-Life Care (EPEC) Program at Northwestern University, a Faculty Affiliate in the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities at the University of Virginia, and a grant-funded investigator at the MedStar Health Research Institute. Some of his current studies include palliative care delivery in cardiovascular medicine, innovative symptom management strategies, language and word choice in complex communication, and the medical humanities.

To learn more about Dr. Groninger, please click here.

Rachel Adams, MD

Dr. Adams serves as Division Chief for Palliative Care within the Department of Medicine at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Prior to joining Medstar Georgetown, Dr. Adams was associate director for inpatient consult services in the Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Care at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, NY, where she also completed her Palliative Medicine fellowship. Dr. Adams is a graduate of the Boston University Medical Center Internal Medicine Residency Program in Boston, MA and received her medical degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Adams is deeply committed to interdisciplinary team work, which is core to the structure of high quality palliative care and is very proud to lead a team at Georgetown with representation from nursing, social work, medicine, and pharmacy. Dr. Adams holds a BA from Swarthmore College in English Literature.

Aparna Desai, DO, MPH

Dr. Desai is a faculty physician in the Section of Palliative Care. She completed her undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins University and earned her Master of Public Health degree from the University of Southern California. While at USC, she interned with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, focusing on health education and outreach among underserved populations. She attended medical school at Touro University Nevada, going on to complete her residency training in Internal Medicine at UCSF Fresno. Dr. Desai trained in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. She is passionate about medical education and has a special interest in promoting clinician wellbeing and resilience. Her interests also include bereavement care, improving access to palliative care, and exploring the role of narrative medicine as a therapeutic tool for clinicians.

Clint Pettit

Clint Pettit, MD

Dr. Pettit is a faculty physician in the Section of Palliative Care.  After attending medical school at his hometown's University of Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Pettit entered the MedStar fold at Georgetown University Hospital as an internal medicine resident.  Deciding to keep Washington, DC (and MedStar Health) as his home, Dr. Pettit completed a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine in the MedStar Washington Hospital Center-Capital Caring fellowship program in 2016.  Dr. Pettit has a passion for inpatient palliative medicine and a special interest in electronic-health-record ease-of-use.  Outside of the hospital, Dr. Pettit's passion lies in music; he frequently attends local shows and writes his own music for classical and electric guitar. 

Michael Pottash, MD

Michael Pottash, MD, MPH, Associate Program Director

After completing a Masters in Public Health, Dr. Pottash studied medicine in Haifa, Israel at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology: Faculty of Medicine. He completed training in Internal Medicine at Jacobi Medical Center in the Primary Care Track, learning to care for complex patients. He then completed fellowships in Palliative Medicine and Medical Ethics at Northwell Health (formerly North Shore-LIJ), along with a certificate course in Clinical Bioethics at the Hofstra School of Law. His interests are patient perceptions of chronic illness, advanced shared decision-making, Clinical Ethics, and Palliative Care.

To learn more about Dr. Pottash, please click here.  

Anirudh Rao, MD

Dr. Rao is a faculty physician in the Section of Palliative Care. He was raised in New York, and obtained his undergraduate degree from Cornell University. After completing medical school at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Rao completed a residency in Internal-Medicine and Pediatrics and a fellowship in Palliative Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Rao is interested in the palliative care needs of adolescents and young adults who are survivors of childhood illnesses. He is also interested in improving medical decision making at the end-of-life and providing communication skills trainings for clinicians.


Linda G. Fisher, Chaplain

Linda G. Fisher, Chaplain

Chaplain Fischer, an Episcopal lay woman, is living out a vocational call to the ministry of hospital chaplaincy and compassionate spiritual care at end-of-life. She has a particular interest in how the experience of grief, loss and emotional trauma within the body effects learning during times of crisis, illness and disease. Prior to joining the MWHC Palliative Care Team in March 2014, she served as outpatient oncology chaplain at MedStar Washington Cancer Institute. Chaplain Fischer trained at the Center for Pastoral Counseling in Virginia, and the MedStar Washington Hospital Center Cancer Residency for Spiritual Caregivers. She facilitates grief groups, coordinates the Palliative Care bereavement program, and teaches grief, loss, death and dying and other spiritual concerns arising at end-of-life in clinical pastoral education (CPE) programs. Chaplain Fischer is a recipient of the MedStar Washington Hospital Center 2010 Healing Spirit Award and the Washington Cancer Institute 2013 SPIRIT Award. She is active in her parish community at Christ Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia, where she serves in a variety of leadership roles. 

Laura Johnson, MDiv

Rev. Laura Johnson serves as Palliative Care Chaplain. She completed her Master of Divinity and certificate in Theology, Medicine, and Culture from Duke Divinity School. Prior to joining MWHC, she completed a year of residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at Duke University Hospital, where she developed a deep passion for providing spiritual and emotional support to people experiencing serious illness and end of life. Desiring to further her skills and passion, she completed a second year of residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at the University of Virginia Health System, specializing in Palliative Care, Oncology, and Geriatrics. She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. 


Anne Kelemen, LICSW, ACHP-SW, Associate Program Director (Social Work)

Anne Kelemen is the Director of Psychosocial/Spiritual Care for the Section of Palliative Care at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, where she conducts patient care, teaches and participates in a variety of research activities. Prior to joining the Hospital Center staff, Ms. Kelemen instituted the first palliative care service at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. She also is the Director of the Social Work Fellowship program, that she created in 2019. An Assistant Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, her research interests include the intersection between language and medicine and intimacy.

Rebecca Kinnebrew MSN, AGPCNP-BC, Interim Associate Program Director (Nurse Practitioner)

Rebecca Kinnebrew is a nurse practitioner in the Section of Palliative Care. Rebecca has previously worked as a heart failure nurse, a long term care nurse, hospice nurse and as a chronic disease manager. She developed an interest in Palliative Care from these experiences, especially in the delivery of palliative care to patients with dementia and heart failure. She joined the MedStar team following graduation from the University of Pennsylvania with a masters in nursing. During her time at the University of Pennsylvania, she focused her clinical studies on populations receiving Palliative Care. Her clinical interests lie in early integration of palliative care in advanced illness, palliative care delivery to dementia patients in the community and in long-term care, and navigating transitions of care in advanced illness.

Nina Laing, LGSW

Nina Laing joined Medstar Washington Hospital in 2017, initially working as a primary Social Worker in the intensive care unit where she received the Chief Nurse Executive Award in 2018. Prior to joining the Hospital Center staff, Nina obtained her master’s in Social Work at the Silver School of Social Work at NYU. She gained valuable experience working with children and their families confronted with chronic or life limiting illness at the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center and subsequently completed a fellowship in Palliative Social Work at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York, New York. Nina has published writing addressing the role of social work in palliative care and has an interest in healthcare disparities.

Deborah Lewis, LGSW

Deborah Lewis is a Palliative Care Social Worker at Medstar Washington Hospital Center, licensed in the District of Columbia. She received her masters degree from Catholic University in 2018, with a Clinical Health Care Specialization. Deborah believes that facing serious illness is a possibility we all share, and therefore should never face alone. She works with patients to marshal their personal, social and spiritual resources and develop specific coping tools so that they can better tolerate the challenges of their illness and live their best lives. Prior to becoming a social worker, Deborah was an attorney who worked as a public defender and for nonprofit legal advocacy organizations. 

Alexandra McPherson Headshot

Alexandra McPherson, PharmD, MPH, Pharmacist

Dr. McPherson joined MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s Section of Palliative Care in 2018 after completing a PGY-2 Pain Management and Palliative Care Residency at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore, MD and a PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA. She completed her undergraduate training at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, and then received an MPH with a dual certificate in International Health and Pharmaceutical Assessment, Management, and Policy from Boston University School of Public Health. Dr. McPherson attended the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, where she received the Terry Paul Crovo Award in Pharmacy Practice for performance and promise to uphold the highest standards of the profession. She is an active member of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the Society of Palliative Care Pharmacists and has published and presented internationally on topics pertaining to pain management and palliative care. Her academic interests include early integration of palliative care in advanced illness, navigating transitions of care at the end-of-life, community-based palliative care, and palliative care in developing countries. Her newest interest involves the integration of narrative medicine practices as a tool for reducing burnout and improving resiliency among palliative care providers.

Candice Tavares, PharmD

Dr. Tavares earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Howard University School of Pharmacy. While completed her pharmacy degree she developed an interest in palliative care and went on to complete a PGY1 Pharmacy Practice residency at Abington Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia, PA and a PGY2 residency in Pain Management and Palliative Care at the Ohio State University in Columbus OH. Prior to joining the Palliative Care team at Washington Hospital Center, Dr. Tavares worked as a clinical pharmacy specialist in pain management at Kaiser Permanente of the MidAtlantic States and as a clinical pharmacy specialist in pain management and palliative care for CentertLight Healthcare in New York, NY.

Kathryn Walker, PharmD, BCPS, CPE

Kathryn Walker, PharmD, BCPS, CPE

Dr. Walker serves as the MedStar Health System Senior Clinical Director for Palliative Care, where she is charged with developing clinical outcomes, research and education. She also acts as an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, contributing to both didactic and experiential pharmacy education. Dr. Walker completed her Doctor of Pharmacy degree at Duquesne University and specialty residency at the University of Maryland. She has served as principle investigator on several grants and co-investigator on an NIH/NINR R01 grant to validate a pain assessment tool for non-communicative patients. She continues to serve as a research mentor to medical students from University of Maryland School of Medicine and Georgetown University. 

Current Fellows

Amy Stupi Aronstamn, LGSW/LMSW

Amy Aronstamn is currently a Palliative Care Social Work Fellow at Medstar Washington Hospital Center, licensed in the District of Columbia and Maryland. She received her masters degree from the University of Maryland School of Social Work in 2020, with a Clinical Behavioral Health Specialization. Amy is interested in helping individuals and their families navigate the complex issues that arise in facing serious illness and end of life issues, with a particular interest in grief, bereavement, and meaning making. Amy completed her advanced field placement at the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, providing grief and trauma therapy to individuals, families, and groups. Prior to returning to social work school, Amy worked in data management and fundraising for educational nonprofits in Baltimore and DC.

Kristen McElreath, MD

Dr. McElreath grew up in metro Detroit, enjoying the surrounding Great Lakes. Dr. McElreath recently served as co-chief resident of University of Michigan’s Family Medicine program where she was able to practice a palliative approach with many of her primary care patients. She is passionate about hospice and palliative medicine and is deeply committed to ensuring quality end of life care for her patients. Dr. McElreath received her Medical Degree from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and completed her clinical rotations in Flint, MI. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Michigan and a Post-Baccalaureate from the University of Pennsylvania. Outside of the hospital, Dr. McElreath is an amateur birder and she enjoys exploring antique bookstores, spending time on Lake Michigan, and spending time with her rescue pets.

Paul Noufi, MD

Dr. Noufi grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, attended college and medical school in a French university in Beirut, Université Saint Joseph, and did my medicine clerkship at the Hôtel-Dieu de France de Beirut. After medical school, he completed a residency in psychiatry at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. Because of his interest in the multidisciplinary management of medical illnesses, he pursued a fellowship in Consultation-Liaison psychiatry at the Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in the academic year 2019-2020. His interests include the management of mental health disorders in patients with chronic pain, existential and meaning-based psychotherapy, and medical humanities. His free time is mostly devoted to family and friends whose continuous presence and support in my life he finds very important. He is also an avid fan of fiction novels and movies. During his childhood years, I studied music in the Lebanese National Conservatory, a hobby that he still preserves to this day.

Michelle Wade, MSN, AGACNP-BC

Michelle Wade MSN, AGACNP-BC is originally from Ohio, but also spent time on the East and West coast. She has experience in emergency medicine, home health, hospice, palliative and recently neurosurgery ICU. While working on the West coast providing palliative and hospice care she developed a strong passion providing physical, spiritual, and emotional care to those facing chronic illness. Michelle graduated with her MSN from The George Washington University in 2019 and enjoys returning to the DC area.

Nicholas Zinn, MD

Dr. Nicholas Zinn is an emergency medicine trained physician from Philadelphia. Following completion of residency at Hahnemann University Hospital in 2017, Dr. Zinn branched out from his more familiar environment in the northeast to experience medicine in states such as Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana through locum tenens work. Regardless of where he practiced though, Dr. Zinn consistently found the most rewarding part of the job to be the rare moments he had time to sit down and connect with patients, clarifying their goals of care when they unexpectedly found themselves at their most unwell rather than necessarily immediately proceeding to an aggressive resuscitation. This perspective inevitably brought him to the field of palliative care, where he eagerly seeks to hone these skills and expand his practice.