Feb 8, 2023 Local Businesses Welcome Young Doctors to the Community

Left to right: Nawal Aamir, MD, PGY-2 resident in the Internal Medicine Residency Program; Angela M. Adelizzi, DO, Director, Internal Medicine Clinic; Christine Cox-West and Shiv Patel of The Fortis Agency

‘We Are Here to Support CMC’s Residents’: Local Businesses Welcome Young Doctors to the Community

Congratulations: You’ve completed medical school and, through a rigorous matching process, have been selected to do your hands-on medical residency at Community Medical Center (CMC). You’re excited to get in on the ground floor of a brand-new academic program at the hospital, and now, for the first time in your life, you find yourself in Toms River. Now what?

That’s the situation for many medical residents joining CMC’s academic program, now in its second year. “A lot of them have never even been in our state, and they know few people when they arrive,” says David West, partner of The Fortis Agency, a financial services firm based in Holmdel. New residents may not know where to eat, buy necessities, obtain services or blow off steam.

The Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce and many local businesses, including The Fortis Agency, decided it was important to roll out the welcome mat in tangible ways. “These doctors practically live at the hospital, and their opportunity to even see the sun except through the window is limited,” says Phil Brilliant, Chairman at the Chamber of Commerce. “We wanted to give them things so they could walk out the door into the community and know where to go.”

“It’s a way of expressing how grateful we are that they’re here,” says Marina Papanikolas, Chief Executive Officer at the Chamber, “and how we value our relationship to the hospital.”


CMC’s residency program began in 2021, providing training for doctors in a variety of disciplines including internal medicine, emergency medicine, surgery and podiatry. The program marked a milestone for the hospital, community and supporters.

“We see CMC as a direct partner,” Brilliant says. “Having a teaching hospital is a huge step forward for the area, which is mostly made up of small businesses run by people who live here. The phenomenal growth we’re seeing at CMC means we have a one-stop hospital, so people in the community don’t have to hop in a car and drive somewhere else to get high-quality health care.”

Supporters see the arrival of new, young physicians as a benefit all its own. Attracting young professionals who may be starting families is a potential boon to businesses, local organizations, governing bodies and schools. “We hope these doctors will stay in the community when they finish their rotations and become part of the bigger picture in the greater Toms River area,” says Papanikolas.

The area has inherent appeal. “I’ve been here more than 30 years and there’s no better place to live than Toms River and Ocean County,” Brilliant says. “We have beaches, a great school district, and cities and mountains are just a short ride away. We want to show medical residents what we’re made of, and as they take care of our community, we want to take care of them.”

But caring for residents goes beyond highlighting local amenities, says Christine Cox-West, partner at The Fortis Agency, which has worked with medical residents and other doctors nationwide for more than 12 years.

Often, young doctors need help managing student loan burdens, protecting their incomes, navigating employment contracts, arranging mortgages and overall putting together a plan to help them reach their financial goals. “These are matters often left out of medical school,” Cox-West says. “But if doctors have successful personal lives, they’ll feel more secure and be more successful physicians as well.”

And personal success includes feeling connected to the community. “We’re here to support CMC’s residents in as many ways as we can,” Cox-West says.


Through the Chamber’s efforts, many local businesses stepped forward with gifts that the organization donated to incoming residents. The effort began during the residency program’s first year and expanded to residents who recently arrived for the program’s second year.

“Residents received coupons, gift cards, mugs—it’s been a really beautiful community-wide effort,” says Jennifer Shufran, Vice President of the CMC Foundation. Gift cards included funds toward restaurants, microbreweries, goods and service providers such as dry cleaners and admission to a Jersey Shore BlueClaws game. “Both years, AristaCare gave stethoscopes to our first-year residents,” Shufran says. “The entire effort speaks volumes about how the community is behind our medical residents.”

The Fortis Agency, building on a history of organizing networking events for professionals, hosted a happy-hour social gathering at Shogun Legacy restaurant in Toms River for PGY-1 residents (doctors in their first postgraduate year), PGY-2s and their attending physicians.

“At that point, a lot of residents had met on Zoom but never in person,” Cox-West says. The event included an open bar, dinner, karaoke and a version of bingo that entailed mingling with others. “Over 75 doctors registered, and it was an awesome experience for both them and us,” Cox-West says.

Fortis team member Shiv Patel, Agency Advisor, attended to represent both the firm and Toms River, where he grew up. “Supporting the hospital is important to a lot of us on a personal level,” Patel says. “To see CMC today—how it’s stepped up and where it’s going—is very impressive.”

The Fortis Agency has also made donations to the hospital out of proceeds from charitable gatherings such as golf outings and other networking events.

“Our residents have been very excited and positive about the reception they’ve had,” Shufran says. “They understand this is something special that not every community does.”

Upcoming CMC Foundation Events

  • Robert H. Ogle Golf Invitational Monday, May 15 | Metedeconk National Golf Club
  • Red, White & Brew Wine Tasting Event Wednesday, June 7 | Toms River Country Club
  • Local Summer Celebration Friday, September 22 | The Ocean View Restaurant

To purchase tickets or sponsorships for these events, call 732.557.8131 or visit www.cmcgiving.org.