Match Week is without a doubt one of the most anticipated events of the year for new medical school graduates, whose future residency appointments will finally be revealed. But for one Ross student who already knows where she will be spending the next three years as a result of a rare pre-match appointment at a hospital that “has her heart,” suspense has been replaced with gratefulness.
Leilani Pathak, who will graduate from Ross in April of 2019, noted that she is still waiting for the news that she has pre-matched in Internal Medicine at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, to completely sink in.
Pathak had, in fact, come to terms with the fact that she would have to sit on the sidelines during the 2019 Match cycle due to unforeseen circumstances that made it necessary for her to take a leave of absence from Ross, which resulted in her graduation date being pushed back.
“I was in tears when the program director told me all my hard work has not gone unnoticed,” she said. “This chance is more than I deserve. I am grateful for the opportunity it provides and will continuing putting my full effort into becoming the best physician I can be.”
Pathak was exposed to medicine from a young age from her mother, who was a nurse. She decided to pursue a career as a physician because it allowed her to do the two things she enjoyed most – study science and interact with people.
She leaned about Ross while doing research on Caribbean medical schools and decided to attend based on the interactions she had with her admission advisor, and because she knew of several Ross graduates who were successfully practicing medicine.
Pathak noted that the foundation she built during her basic sciences years at Ross prepared her well for her rotations, which ultimately led to her residency appointment. Ross was also the place where she learned the importance of applying herself fully to each and every assignment, both on the island, and off.
"When you get to a rotation, you can decide for yourself if you’re going to slack off and stop trying or [realize] this is our time to learn how to be a good doctor. It's possible to go either way,” she said.
Learning how to become the doctor she wanted to be was first and foremost in her mind during all of her rotations, and was the reason she showed up for every lecture, gave it her all during every procedure, and applied herself in every situation.
For a time, she wasn’t even sure anyone noticed her efforts, but that didn’t stop her. And as it turned out, people were paying attention.
“I choose to do this work because it is my way of being good in this life, but recognition that my work is truly appreciated is the icing on an already richly rewarding endeavor,” she said.
When asked what it is about Internal Medicine specifically that she enjoys, Pathak responded by saying that it gives her a chance to play detective.
“It’s super rewarding to find out what the diagnosis is and then give the person the treatment and they leave being much better,” she explained. ““I love Internal Medicine because you have to have a strong understanding of general medicine. There are so many different diseases we have to have a good scientific background of, and it’s fun because it’s kind of like [a] textbook [come to] life. There’s always something to learn – you’ll never be complacent in medicine because it’s always changing.”
Beyond residency, Pathak hopes to pursue a fellowship in intensive care.
“I like how the Intensive Care Unit is fast paced and you get to do everything and everything is stat and you really need to know your sciences well to understand what’s going on, so that’s really fun,” she said.
In the meantime, she is looking forward to graduating and starting her well-deserved residency appointment, and had these words of advice for aspiring medical students:
“Work hard in everything you do. There are so many people who want to be in medical school and here we are – every opportunity to be everything we want to be. I enjoy studying medicine and feel better at the end of the day knowing that I’ve had a productive hardworking day. People do notice your efforts - it definitely pays off.”