Med Student Rahul Maheshwari Talks TEDxUMKC
How has your college program inspired you?
Learning about medicine has inspired me to learn more about the patient that we are working to treat. Science can only go so far.
Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?
Discipline and perseverance are earned and developed, not innate characteristics of any individual. Through hard work — and a little creativity — you can achieve your goals if you plan appropriately.
On UMKC’s 6-Year BA/MD Program: “(From the start) You are actively talking to patients, and it makes you comfortable. A lot of medical students may not get that comfort level until way later into their education.”
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?
“You’re here because you’re lucky.”
Entrance into the six-year B.A./M.D. program was a competitive college selection process, but just because I got in does not immediately mean I’m better than everyone who didn’t get in. Those individuals who didn’t get in are not any less intelligent or capable than me, and with the same opportunities, they likely could have flourished.
What do you admire most at UMKC?
The dedication and humility of some of the UMKC School of Medicine teaching faculty — it’s incredibly inspiring when someone in that station in their life is fully devoted to your success as a future physician and helps out both in the classroom and the patient room.
What’s your greatest fear?
Failure and/or rejection. It’s difficult for me to put a lot of effort and soul into something and see it crash and burn.
What is one word that best describes you and why?
Dynamic. What I enjoy most about my time here at UMKC thus far is the variety of my involvements and the diversity of skill sets I’ve picked up along the way. I have strong interests in dance, visual media, music mixing and public speaking, while simultaneously pursuing a career in medicine. In addition, I’ve served in leadership positions of a broad spectrum from TEDx to medical advocacy. Part of these involvements meant I learned how to design websites, do branding for non-profit organizations, write cover letters and meet with sponsors, and how to host professional events.
Why did you choose UMKC?
UMKC was both convenient and a good program. It’s not too far from home (suburbs of Chicago). You still get that Midwest feel.
You do get a lot of clinical experience. It’s not just something to say when you’re giving tours. The first two years, you don’t really know any medicine. You’re essentially shadowing doctors. But you are actively talking to patients, and it makes you comfortable. A lot of medical students may not get that comfort level until way later into their education. Being able to walk into a patient room at the beginning of my first proper medical year and not feel weird about it is a huge advantage.
Do you come from a medical family?
My father is an endocrinologist. He tells patient stories at the dinner table. To me, as a doctor, you have access to a private side of someone’s life. You have a really intimate relationship with lots of people. I really value that, being able to make those relationships and help them in their path to whatever they’re doing.
You are the co-curator of the TEDxUMKC event. Is that your main extracurricular activity?
I am involved in a lot of other things, but this has definitely been at the forefront. I get a lot of different experiences that you don’t get from anything else. I really value the time and effort I have put in to TED.
What’s something your involvement in TEDx has taught you?
I think I’ve developed my people skills. I enjoy talking to people; I don’t think I’m awkward or anything. But, for instance, being able to walk in the office of the dean of the Law School. We asked her for a sponsorship for one of our events. Being able to walk in on the spot and give your pitch for TEDx as a first- or second-year student — it seemed like a really daunting thing at the time. I was pacing outside the office for 10 minutes, just thinking of what to say.
I think it really demonstrated to me the value of the student. We still have difficulties working with some of our speakers. Sometimes in the past, they didn’t really value students, who are at the bottom of the food chain, per se, so they may not give as much thought to some of the deadlines we set. But realizing that we do have value through some of these experiences, like meeting with sponsors, sitting down and actually working with speakers, telling them how they should fix their talks, I guess it’s a bit of a self-confidence boost and you really unlock your potential.
You work all year toward the TEDxUMKC event. What’s the day of the event like?
You get there early that day, about 6 a.m. I’m usually in charge of doing a lot the things in the booth, like working through speakers’ PowerPoints, setting up the entire presentation. It’s weird to see all the effort that you put in — all these minor, logistical details — actually come into place at a timetable that you’ve set up.
Where is UMKC taking you?
To becoming a doctor. I see myself being a lot more academic. Working with a lot of the doctors here, you see they’re great in the clinic. But the extra time they take to work with the students and teach classes or on a one-on-one basis in a patient room, it’s incredibly inspiring. They are literally raising the new generation of doctors. This is something I would love to do.
And also volunteering. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work at Sojourner, the free student-run health clinic. I’ve logged a decent amount of hours there. You see the socioeconomic aspect of your patients. It’s not just someone who walks into your office and walks out. You see them in their position, in their background. I’d like to continue that when I’m a doctor and have the proper skill set to do so.
What are your lifelong goals?
I would like to see myself in a teaching position. Working at a medical school or a university hospital is some place I’d like to be in the future. I’d also like to do some more atypical things, like volunteer with Doctors Without Borders — not just stick to getting my M.D. and then going straight to the clinic but also branch out and seeing what else is possible. I recently became involved with the American College of Physicians. I’m part of their state council. You get to see some of the advocacy and things that they do.
What excites you?
Teaching. Being able to see the impact that you have personally had on another person, and seeing those tangible results that come out of it, like working with younger medical students and teaching them, for example, how to listen to the heart in various patients and then they find some abnormality that you taught them about. Seeing that look on their face, you realize, wow, this is a real thing that I actually taught them.
That also applies to TED in some ways. I don’t want to take all the credit, but as one of the curators, I’m responsible for organizing a team that puts on this huge professional event. I enjoy seeing the direct impacts on the audience members as they come talk to me and discuss various talks and say how much they enjoyed the experience. Working with various speakers, it’s nice to be able to see the results of your work. That’s what really excites me and helps me plan long-term goals.