Q & A
What made you choose to study at Drexel University College of Medicine?
I chose Drexel because of its Philadelphia location and its culture of strong teaching and promoting interests alongside medicine.
Why is neurology important to you and how does it fit into your medical school education?
Neurology became important to me when I realized it allowed me to balance my interest in research and clinical medicine. Because it is continuously evolving, there is a very strong relationship between research and treatment. This was particularly important to me because it allows me to create my own focus and niche in the field.
Have you done any research related to neurology? If so, what did you do and why do you think it's important?
My interest in neurology started in my undergraduate years when I began doing research in Alzheimer's disease. My father had done research in the field as a postdoctoral fellow, which helped foster my own interest in research. From there, my focus shifted to some clinical components of the disease. I felt I needed more interpersonal contact outside the lab.
That eventually led me to search for a mentor. I went to Dr. Robert Schwartzman since his research in chronic pain was something I had not explored yet.
It started out as a summer research fellowship, but I was given more opportunities in the clinical setting and saw patients in the pain clinic the summer before my second year of medical school. It was the first time I was able to create a strong link between research and treatment. I met with chronic pain patients in the mornings and followed their progress through data analysis in the afternoon. These are the type of patients that are many times passed off from doctor to doctor since there isn't a standardized treatment plan available at this time. Although it was a complicated patient population, by being in the clinic with Dr. Schwartzman, I was able to learn both clinical and interpersonal skills needed for patient care.
A crucial lesson I learned that summer was that curative treatments in neurology are in fact interdisciplinary. In other words, it is not only the physician who plays a role in patient care but health professionals such as physical therapists or respiratory therapists as well. I felt that it was a unique and more holistic treatment method that appealed to me and ultimately was a key reason why I went into neurology.
What advice would you give to future College of Medicine students, specifically those who plan to participate in the neurology program?
I think it is important to go beyond the daily grind of classes and tests. Applying your interest in the field through teaching other students, research, or interest groups makes the process more enjoyable.
I think with neurology it is easy to get discouraged in the mindset that there is nothing you can do for the patient, since many of the treatments are still in the early stages. Fifty years ago the same thing was said about cardiology and now there are standards of practice, both interventional and medical, that are firmly in place. We have the opportunity now to be involved in doing the same thing for neurology and being the ones to actually create and further develop the field. A big part of what I learned in clinical research was that many of these patients come to you as a neurologist because few other clinical providers could help them. That is a pretty novel concept and although we may not have the cures to many pathologies now, we surely can help them in a way that those outside the field may not be able to.
What are your plans after graduation?
I am currently in my first year of neurology residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. I wanted to find a place that had a strong sense of teaching and academics like I felt at Drexel, and I am so happy that I found it here!
Learn more about the Department of Neurology