Dr. Aayush Patel, PGY-2 in Internal Medicine, shares about his unconventional childhood, advice for incoming interns, and why he loves UMMC.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Kenya and grew up there until I was 7 before my parents moved my sisters and me to Atlanta. My parents would go back and forth between Kenya and the US every few months, so I was raised by my older sisters during their absence. I had to learn how to cook, clean, and do laundry for myself from a very early age. Growing up like this gave me a lot of autonomy and responsibility. I didn’t always have the most structured or predictable up-bringing and got to test my limits in a lot of ways, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I got to travel and see the world, got in trouble, got out of it, and worked hard to get to where I am. Now I live in Mississippi, which I did not see coming. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Why did you choose UMMC for residency?
Many things made UMMC an appealing residency. On paper, UMMC has all the fellowships that I found interesting and it has a diverse patient base with unique pathology. While I also found these things at other programs, what really made me choose this place was the group of people I met on my interview. From the first welcome dinner, they treated me like I was one of them. It didn’t feel like the typical interview day, and I felt like I belonged here because of the people I met.
Tell us about a memorable experience from training.
During my night medicine rotation, I was getting used to making decisions with near full autonomy. Most of the floor pages until this point were for pain medicine, nausea, or elevated blood pressure, all of which boosted my confidence. I got a page about a patient vomiting “dark brown liquid.” I calmly walked to the room and looked at coffee ground emesis for the first time. Understandably, I panicked a little. I palpated his stomach and he nearly jumped off the bed. I panicked a bit more. I ordered the GI bleed workup and transfusions to stabilize the patient, and sent him for CT scan. He had mesenteric ischemia and went for surgery. Despite my fears, I handled everything as I was supposed to because I trusted my training. My imposter syndrome faded a bit that day.
What is one thing you would tell the incoming interns about what is to come?
Trust in your knowledge from medical school. It may seem rudimentary, but little things will come to mind when working someone up that will make all the difference to your patient. You’re not as ill-prepared as you feel when starting residency.
What could you give a presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
I could talk about food forever. I love traveling and eating foods from different places. Food is something I feel tells me more about people and culture than anything else.
How has COVID-19 changed the way you practice medicine?
I have to think more about the initial presentation. “It’s covid” is an easy answer that makes people stop thinking about what else it could be. I have to work at it to keep an open mind for diagnoses.
What are some small things that make your day better?
Getting to take a break and hang out in the lounge or go get coffee with my friends. It breaks up the monotony and stress residency can have.
What profession would you have chosen if you weren’t a physician?
A racecar driver!