Nova Southeastern University, Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine
Future Goals: My future ambitions are many, but my professional goal is to make a difference in the lives of sick children, such as in Pediatric Surgery or Critical Care. I anticipate both clinical impact as well as returning to my earlier roots of medical oncology research. I also enjoy seeing the world and hope to resume travel with my husband to some of the most interesting places on the globe.
Minorities in Medicine who have inspired you: While I don’t come from a family of physicians (I am excited to be the first), I do come from a family of hardworking compassionate people including several nurses and pharmacists. They genuinely love what they do and caring for others is simply a part of who they are and I know they are well-appreciated by staff and patients alike. I admire their passion and willingness to go the extra mile and hope to mirror that same spirit in my specialty.
Describe a hardship you’ve faced as a minority student pursuing medicine: Gaining admission into medical school was a major feat. I received a number of rejections over the years but never lost sight of the goal. Persistence and determination are a necessity when pursuing competitive fields such as medicine, and even more so if you are a minority in any sense of the word (race, socioeconomics, religion, gender, not from family of doctors)–sometimes it’s just really difficult to break the mold. But, I knew I could be successful here, if I could only get a “yes” and eventually I did.
Advice for underrepresented minorities (URMs) who want to pursue medicine: Passion fuels us, and also provides a unique gift to the world around us so NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS. Challenges along the way really do add depth to your character and bring incredible insight, experience, and sweetness on the back end (aren’t the best stories the most imperfect ones and didn’t many of the best inventions have rough starts)?! Always strive for excellence AND integrity in spite of the temptation. Seek opportunities to engage because it creates visibility, shows interest, and provides excellent networking opportunity. Expand your circle to include mentors and people simply “in the know” (they may be able to save you time, frustration, and money). Immerse yourself in inspirational books and messages regularly for when things go awry (in reading about trial and triumph in any field, you will be inspired). Most importantly, when you make it, reach back and help someone else make it too!
How do you feel empowered in your community? The journey of medical school empowers students in many ways. We are trained to be leaders by necessity in treating patients and finding ways of improving medicine. We’ve learned resilience through the copious amounts of knowledge ingested and tested. We inevitably become more well-rounded, quickly learning the languages, cultures, lifestyles, and struggles of our patients. We’re exposed to community problems as well as gaps in health care. We are continually challenged to grow and be better. We become part of a large network of very interesting professionals. In a field where minority physicians are outnumbered, having each of these tools at our disposal instantly places us in a position to have greater influence in medicine and in the lives of other minorities...and influence is a powerful legacy to leave.