During the spring 2020 semester, the COVID-19 pandemic put a special focus on the sacrifice of our healthcare workers as they united together to care for unprecedented numbers of patients. The SAS Honors Program delighted to celebrate news that of the 11 students who were accepted to the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School's BA/MD program, a program designed for a select group of high-achieving premedical students of Rutgers University to have conditional, early-acceptance to Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, five are members of the Class of '22 School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program. In addition, we celebrated another acceptance to the 7 year BA/MD joint degree program with New Jersey Medical School-Newark.
Neha Kuderu, Mann Patel, Nikhil Patel, Chandravathi Sayani, Trisha Sindhu, and Raj Malhotra shared their reflections on the past two years at Rutgers that prepared them in applying to and being accepted into the program.
Neha Kuderu is a Biological Sciences major from Marlboro, NJ. She was involved in the SASHP Peer Mentor Program, the SASHP Student Advisory Board, and a member of Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity. She also has a great passion for dance; she has been a dancer since she was six training in Bharatanatyam (Classical South Indian Dance), Ballet, Tap, and Lyrical. At Rutgers University, she is a member of Rutgers Performing Dance Company (RPDC) and has taken many dance classes with Mason Gross School of Arts.
Her advice for incoming pre-medical students is to feel free to explore your hobbies. She shares,"Being pre-med in a huge school like Rutgers, you may get overwhelmed by the competitiveness of the field. It's important to navigate that competition not by comparing yourself to others, but by focusing on yourself and celebrating your accomplishments. You should give yourself time to pursue your interests outside of medicine. Pick up a minor, join a club, don’t box yourself in. As a pre-med student, you are here with a specific goal in mind, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of all of the diverse opportunities and people that Rutgers has to offer. If you found this page and are reading this advice, it's probably because you are ambitious and you have a deep passion for medicine, so keep chasing that passion. Good Luck!"
Mann Patel from Edison, NJ shares, "To anyone interested in applying to the program or pursuing medicine in general, I would advise them to find different ways to explore the healthcare field but also take the time to develop their individual interests. For me, my interest in medicine grew from my experiences in the healthcare environment as a patient, volunteer, and a shadow. However, it was not until I got involved on campus that I was sure medicine was the right field for me. These extracurriculars included being a peer mentor within Residence Life, a teaching assistant, or engaging in research where I developed an interest in being a mentor, teaching, and learning that paralleled my healthcare experiences. It made me more confident in my desire to become a physician and even apply to the BA/MD program knowing this was the right path for me. It allowed me to become more actively involved in the community, but also made me a more diverse applicant with unique experiences to share during my interview. With any doubts or questions, I sought the advice of my own peer mentors in my living-learning community, the Health Professions Office, and my academic advisors."
He also adds, "While your journey will undoubtedly be different from mine, I want to stress the importance of taking the initiative to seek out related opportunities, being confident in your interests, and reaching out for the right support."
Nikhil Patel from Franklin Park, NJ writes, "My advice is to try unique activities that differ from the normal premed extracurriculars. When I interviewed at RWJMS, I had a lot more to say about my experiences as a Resident Assistant, ODASIS Instructor, and Crisis Counselor rather than my clinical experiences. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try new things. The best decision I made at Rutgers was joining RU Dhol Effect, an Indian American fusion band that let me reconnect with my cultural roots while taking a break from being premed. Take advantage of the myriad of experiences Rutgers offers, and don’t worry if you find yourself exploring interests outside of medicine. During my sophomore year, I became fascinated by the cancer biology research I was doing, and contemplated dropping medicine for a PhD. This was a pivotal moment because it was the first time I ever hesitated about becoming a physician. This hesitation showed me the possibility of other career paths, inspiring me to pursue a career in academic medicine. Lastly, don’t be afraid to fail. These student showcase pages will display impressive students with many accomplishments; however, it doesn’t show the mistakes and pitfalls they’ve experienced along the way."
He also reminds students that, "Medicine is a difficult path but remember to prioritize your health and well-being."
Chandravathi Sayani is a Biological Sciences Major from Skillman, New Jersey. She advises, “Take any experience you have as a learning opportunity. While other pre-meds may be doing the “generic” volunteering or shadowing, how you perceive each experience and what you learn will ultimately help you understand different aspects of medicine. Volunteering at the hospital and being an EMT helped me not only see the “science” part of medicine but also the humanistic side. One of the main things I enjoy from these experiences is interacting with patients and playing a part in their road to recovery. That being said, don’t limit yourself to only healthcare related experience; partake in non-healthcare ones too! These activities help you step out of your comfort zone, thus broadening your view on various interests you may have and helping you develop as a person. Perhaps you could be a part of a few clubs, do a sport, do research, get work experience, or even get involved within the Honors Program! Serving as the Peer Leader in McCormick and a member of the SASHP Peer Mentor Programming Board helped me step up and think creatively. With any of these activities, stay committed to whatever you’re doing. That way, you would grow greater appreciation for the activity and have opportunities to step up into a leadership role. You would also be able to translate a few skills you pick up from these activities towards your future careers as doctors!"
Trisha Sindhu is a Biological Sciences major from Princeton, New Jersey. She advises students who are planning to apply to this program, “Be authentic. It is easy to get caught up in trying to accomplish extensive pre-med extracurriculars: volunteering, research, shadowing, etc. to simply adorn your resume. While it is important to explore these extracurriculars as they will adequately test your interests in medicine, don’t feel compelled to pursue all of them under the misconception that more activities make for a more competitive candidacy. Focus on the quality, not the quantity.
She reflects, “I recommend finding what interests you the most, be it working in a lab or clinical setting, and following through with those experiences. For example, when volunteering in the emergency department one summer, I found my favorite part was being able to engage with patients. I wanted to create deeper, more personal connections with patients which led me to become a Kindred Hospice volunteer. I continued with Kindred for over a year and gained invaluable insight into what a patient-physician relationship embodies. Notably, I was able to find an avenue of medicine I found most enjoyable: patient interactions."
She adds, “Above all, be passionate about whichever activities you chose to pursue, medicine related or not. Being enthusiastic about your experiences will come across as much more genuine to the admissions committee rather than trying to impress them. The following quote stuck with me during the application process and may help in providing perspective, ‘Allow your passion to become your purpose, and it will one day become your profession!’’
Raj Malhotra was accepted to the NJMS-NWK program. As a Genetics major and Health and Society minor who grew up in New Hyde Park, Long Island, but currently lives in Edison, New Jersey, he advises, "Do not conform to any standard of what you "think" is expected of you. Whether it be the major you choose, the activities you dedicate your time to, or the people you surround yourself with - stick to your roots and stay grounded."