When interviewing Temple medical residency candidates, one of the first questions that Deputy Program Director Sue Gersh asks is, "Are you a cyclist?"
The way they answer doesn’t sway her decision, but the question does offer future internal medicine doctors insight into the culture of the Temple department. More than half the doctors in the General Internal Medicine division are cyclists; those who don't bike are avid exercisers.
Gersh says she has been riding for years with fellow internal medicine doctors Anu Paranjape and Lawrence Kaplan. Last September, the doctors pooled their interest and formed Team Temple Med to ride in the Multiple Sclerosis Society's City to Shore bike ride.
The team comprised avid cyclists from across Temple, including doctors, medical students, physical therapists, hospital translators and research faculty. Both Gersh and Paranjape say that after that initial race, the outpouring of gratitude from people around the Health Sciences Campus was overwhelming.
"People started to come out of the woodwork, thanking us for doing the ride," said Gersh. "Patients, doctors and students all knew someone who had MS — even one of the owners of the lunch truck in front of the hospital. We raised about $12,000 last year for the MS Society with about 15 people on the team — and all that money goes to funding research and support for patients suffering from MS."
This year, Team Temple Med decided to expand on that success by recruiting more riders and participating in more rides. In June, a small group rode in the Tour de Cure, raising close to $1,000 for the American Diabetes Association. In July, a larger group cycled 60 miles and raised more than $1,500 in the American Cancer Society's Bike-a-thon. In September, Team Temple Med will be back on their bikes for the 150-mile Multiple Sclerosis City to Shore ride.
In addition to their formal rides, Gersh and Paranjape hold training rides during the weekends to help newer riders get acclimated to going long distances.
"Now when I ride my bike with my Temple jersey on, I can't tell you how many people call out to me on the street," said Paranjape, chief of the section of General Internal Medicine.
Team Temple Med is still recruiting riders and looking for donations in preparation for the City to Shore ride in September, which will cover more than 100 miles. For more information, visit: Team Temple Med's Facebook page