Letter: BA/MD program brings new opportunities for students

by Rajiv Dharnipragada

My passion for science started at a young age. I obtained research experiences at the University of Minnesota ranging from oncology, plant biology, to neuroscience. The University opened my eyes to the importance and satisfaction that comes with patient interaction.

Shadowing neurologist Dr. Ramachandra Tummala at the University’s fascinating Clinics and Surgery Center revealed to me the uncertainty that many patients have to wake up to every day. Dr. Tummala’s ability to counsel, keep optimism, and maintain hope in dire situations motivates me to become a doctor. To me, one of the most compelling reasons to pursue this profession stems from the uniqueness of every patient interaction.

Volunteering at St. Therese’s Nursing Home every Saturday, one of my tasks is to bring all the seniors to weekend bingo. I strive to strike conversations and help the residents socialize and have fun. As a volunteer, I can fill some of the void that they experience daily. In addition, I find the nurses and doctors on staff to be outstanding, uplifting the nursing home patients’ spirits with their care and com- passion. My research, shadow, and volunteer experiences have shaped the kind of doctor that I hope to become.

Although the regular undergraduate program is more conventional, the University’s BA/MD provides the opportunity to excel in the two most important components of being a physician: communication and science. This BA/MD program is the perfect fit for me since there is no doubt in my mind that I will become a doctor, and I can focus my time on excelling in research, service and a rigorous course load.

Editor’s Note: This letter has been lightly edited for style. Dharnipragada is one of the first distinguished students in the BA/MD program.

Rajiv Dharnipragada