Spotlight: Vishal Patel

Name: Vishal Patel

Major: Biology

HCMP Role: Intern

Classification: Junior


Describe a shadowing experience that has impacted you the most.

During my DSHS rotation I learned that the discovery of folic acid supplements as a preventative measure for neural tube defects originated from my preceptor’s public health research, which lowered the prevalence of these recurring NTDs from 70% to 40%. His anecdote resonated with me because it helped me realize that public health research truly does save lives in a very direct manner. One of his interventions consisted of mailing out folic acid supplements to expecting mothers with known NTD susceptibility and following their data with a cohort study. This saved many newborn lives and was all orchestrated from behind a computer desk. He told us, “Collecting demographic data to find these women, mailing out all of these packets, getting approval from ethics and drug regulators, and conducting all of these questionnaires is really tedious – But if we can save even one life, it is all worth it.”
This alternative perspective of the health care field has given me a new confidence in the ability of non-physicians to make health care related decisions. Although public health officials do not directly treat patients, they often prevent that state from occurring in the first place. Public health officials preach that “If you hear about a new disease outbreak, that means we aren’t doing our job.”

How has HCMP benefited your professional or individual goals?

HCMP has given me an opportunity to explore various niches within medicine – It’s almost like an abbreviated version of medical school rotations. Being able to go from a sub-specialty like retinology to plastic surgery within the same week has shown me how much diversity there is in medicine, all while upholding the common goal of advancing the human condition. As a pre-med student, solidifying my commitment to medicine is something that HCMP has allowed me to do with great confidence.

What has been your favorite aspect of HCMP?

The community involvement of HCMP is very satisfying and well-coordinated. Our annual involvement in the Health Care Summit is a more recent addition the organization’s activities, but even participating in it once has reassured me of its great impact on young scientists and pre-health students. Sacrifice is a large part of being a physician, and practicing this through volunteer events and community service is really something that reminds me why I want to go into medicine in the first place.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love playing basketball and following the NBA #LAKERSNATION!!! In addition to this, I enjoy learning how to cook (using Food Network episodes), engineering projects with circuits, and spending time with family.