After leaving successful careers in information technology and finance, Suparna Shah decided to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. She took a few pre-med courses at NYU and began volunteering at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York Presbyterian Hospital. Immediately she recognized the great satisfaction she got out of helping others and she knew she had made the right choice—but did she have what it takes to get into medical school? Happenstance led her to a flyer announcing NYMC’s Accelerated Master’s Program in the Graduate School of Basic Medical Sciences, which allows students intending to apply to medical school to take selected pre-clinical medical school courses and complete the requirements for a master’s in one year. She applied, was accepted, and completed the program. Fast forward to today: Ms. Shah is a thriving third-year medical student at New York Medical College completing her clinical rotations. She is paying her good fortune forward by mentoring first-year medical students and serving as vice president of the Student Senate. As a senate officer, she is currently working on the responsibilities of several Senate subcommittees: the Committee on Academics, the Committee on Student Welfare, and the Course Representatives, a group that serves as liaisons between the course directors and the students. She also will be active in NYMC’s upcoming LCME accreditation review process. Ms. Shah is considering pursuing a career in the surgical field but is still undecided as to a specialty.
What did you enjoy most about medical school?
I really do enjoy the experience of being in school again—especially because this time I am doing something I feel passionate about. I enjoy the experience of learning and improving myself every day. I am so grateful for this opportunity. Even though the road to medical school has been hard, I would not trade the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment I now have for anything else.
How do you balance your personal time with medical school?
This has been a struggle because when I started this journey, I told myself I was going to do everything to reach my goal. What I did not foresee was the amount of stress and commitment this journey would involve. I have had to step back at times and remind myself that it is not only healthy to give yourself a break but it is also necessary if you are going to succeed. This path is long and will test you on every level. I take days off from studying and I sometimes travel to Texas to see my parents. When I return I am refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.
Do you have any advice for prospective medical students?
If you want to be a physician and cannot see yourself doing anything else, then keep pushing forward. Do not let setbacks stand in your way because there is always a way to reach your dreams. Be creative and keep your goals in sight because there is nothing more fulfilling than reaching your potential.
What’s been your favorite memory at New York Medical College?
One of the things that I will always remember about New York Medical College are all the people I have been fortunate to have connected with—that include the faculty, the clinicians, the administration and all my fellow students. It is good to know that on this journey, you are not alone. There are many people at NYMC that not only want you to succeed but are willing to help you any way they can to make sure you do.
What do you think people would be surprised to know about you?
I think people would be surprised to know that English is not my first language and that I lived in India for many years with my grandmother. When I started school, I did not know any English.
If you had a magic wand what would you wish for?
If I could have anything, I would want to make sure that everyone at least has the opportunity to do whatever they want to in life. I feel fortunate that I was given the chance to change my career and find something that I really enjoy. I think the only barriers to reaching your goals should be your desire, motivation, and work ethic, but not your place in life, your financial situation, or the political climate in which you are born.
Who has been the most influential person in your life?
The most influential person in my life is my father. He was an immigrant who came to the United States to attend college. He took on loans and worked his way through school to make a life for himself and his family. I would not have the opportunities I have had in my life if it were not for him. Without the support of my parents today, I do not know if I would have had the courage to give up my career in finance to pursue medicine.
What talent would you love to have?
I would love to be able to sing and play the guitar. I feel music can be a great expression of yourself and your feelings.
You’re stranded on a desert island. What three things would you take?
I would bring a good book, some good music and coffee—I have to have my coffee in the morning!
Page updated: December 6, 2013