Sharmila Jai Kumar MD '17

Sharmila Jai Kumar
As an undergraduate biology major with a focus in nutrition, Sharmila Jai Kumar knew that a career in health care was her likely career path. A winter break trip to her native India, where Jai Kumar volunteered in a rural hospital, solidified her decision to become a doctor.

The trip, during Jai Kumar's junior year in college, proved to be an eye-opening experience. The local doctors routinely saw patients who presented with diseases such as tuberculosis, polio and gangrene--illnesses largely eradicated in the West. "The doctors were really passionate about medicine," she recalls. Jai Kumar liked their focus on healing and patient care.

Jai Kumar, who graduated from Cornell University in May 2013, further prepared herself for medical school by volunteering in a free health clinic for underserved populations near the university in Ithaca, N.Y. She found that she especially enjoyed talking with patients and hearing their stories.

A number of psychological and social factors go into diagnosing medical issues, Jai Kumar explains, so listening is crucial. Patients often shared personal information, which created strong bonds. Jai Kumar says doctors are fortunate to be in the role of a confidant. "I'm really lucky that I get to do that," she says.  

A doctor also plays an important role as an educator to patients. One of the reasons that Jai Kumar chose Quinnipiac was the medical school's focus on high-quality instruction in the classroom and lab. "Faculty members are so excited to teach," she says. "If you learn from the best, you can give your best back to your patients. That's what set Quinnipiac apart."  

During the admissions process, Jai Kumar especially liked the enthusiasm she saw among the medical school's faculty and staff as well as the excitement of a brand-new medical school.

After being accepted, Jai Kumar attended the school's "Second Look" weekend, which included a tour of St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, the school's principal clinical partner. She recalls how the doctors gathered around the prospective medical students and applauded. "That was so special, to be welcomed like that," she says. Jai Kumar is looking forward to starting rotations at the hospital in her third year.

Students in the school's charter class have already formed strong bonds, Jai Kumar says. There's a feeling of collaboration, not competitiveness, among students. "Everyone in the class is incredible," she says.  

"We want to be leaders. We're ambitious. We're facing the challenges together."


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