Q&A: Rising Fourth Year Student

Priya Kantesaria - Sustainable & Equitable Patient Care


I'm excited and optimistic to get back on the floor and to really put into action all of the skills that I cultivated throughout my years in medical school. I'm also incredibly excited to engage more with specialties and electives that I typically wouldn't be given exposure to. In medical school, so many things we learn here and experiences we have are unique and may never again cross our paths as we continue in our training. I can't wait to take advantage of every opportunity!

COVID-19 has highlighted the need for stronger healthcare influence in the public domain. In addition to providing high quality care, it is also the role for the health care system to educate the public on the best means to protect their health. Moving forward we need health care workers in all aspects of society including media, policy, and industry. Only with the development of healthcare leaders in those fields can we ensure that the lessons learned during COVID-19 are not in vain!

For motivation and inspiration during this tough time I really have focused on the concept that this is an extraordinary situation that will undoubtedly change what medicine looks like moving forward. It can be incredibly nerve wrecking to be embarking on the residency application process during this time, however we are not alone, there are students across the United States and across the world who are currently in the same situation we are. Although it can be scary, this is also the perfect opportunity to make so many of the changes that medical education has been waiting for.

Although COVID-19 has been incredibly disruptive to my day to day life, it has given me the opportunity to reconnect with hobbies that were sidelined during clerkships. I have really turned to cooking, especially working on expanding my repertoire of healthy but delicious recipes! I don't think I've had so many fruits and vegetables in my apartment at one time before. I also find that reading books or drawing right before bed has helped me unwind. Spending a little time away from medicine allows me to better focus myself when I decide to study.

Over the last three years, I've been so lucky to get lessons from different attendings, students, and mentors who impacted how I view patients, practice medicine, and engage with health systems. Thanks to these mentors, I've been able to develop and hone how I approach patients especially regarding their unique socioeconomic background. One thing that I think is unique to the education at NJMS is how heavily we integrate health equity and social justice into our larger curriculum. It's become more apparent, especially during this pandemic, that social determinants of health play an incredible role in providing sustainable and equitable patient care. When talking to my colleagues across the country, they are often shocked when I describe how robust our curriculum is, and how frequently we discuss the variety of factors which impact patient care. The fact that we've had numerous discussions on topics - from providing gender affirming care, to health insurance access, to the impact of race and medicine - shows that we consider health to be more than biological. These lessons go outside of the classroom as well, and in the last year I've connected these lessons directly to patient interactions. Many schools can teach clinical sciences, but it takes a special institution to seamlessly integrate health equity in a manner that empowers us to critically examine how we interact with our patients. I believe that this focus makes me a more conscientious and prepared physician, and I'll be sure to take these lessons with me as I transition to directly providing care.