Nitin Sajankila ’13

JOB TITLE: Medical Student
ORGANIZATION: Case Western Reserve University
LOCATION: Cleveland, Ohio
GRADUATE DEGREE: Candidate for M.D./M.S. in applied anatomy

What was your first position after college? After graduating from Trinity in 2013 with a B.S. in mathematics, I enrolled in medical school at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine. I am currently in the M.D./M.S. in applied anatomy program and hope to pursue a residency in a surgical field after graduating. I ended up in this program through a combination of my own interest in its unique curriculum, help from the Health Professions Advising Committee (HPAC) at Trinity, and a great deal of advice of my former Interdisciplinary Science Program (ISP) adviser, Alison Draper.           

Has a liberal arts education helped you in shaping your career? Trinity’s liberal arts curriculum, with its course flexibility and unique extracurricular activities, allowed me to balance a heavy premedical load and still find time to explore my other interests. While it was not so clear at the time, the breadth of my knowledge after college, from music to math, and my unique experiences, studying abroad and living in The Fred Pfeil Community Project, allowed me to be a competitive applicant for medical school. Aside from helping me to get into medical school, this education also helped shaped my perspective on the world by allowing me to take classes such as “Global Short Fiction” and “Abstraction and Argument” that challenged the way I thought. By taking many different liberal arts classes, I developed the capacity to succeed in multiple different subjects even when the topics were very foreign. Taking mathematics courses especially helped me to understand how I learn and how I should approach various challenges in order to succeed. Even in my second year of medical school, I can see that my process of studying diseases and constructing differential diagnoses bears resemblance to the many flow charts that I made when I first learned to write a mathematical proof at Trinity.

What advice would you give to Trinity students to prepare for a position in your field? Do well in your premedical courses; while it’s not the end of the world if you get a bad grade or two in a couple of the prerequisite courses (I was definitely not perfect), your GPA will help interviewers take your application seriously. Pursue experiences that are beyond just the typical premedical activities. While shadowing helps you to understand where your interests in medicine lie, exploring math or music for four years shows that you are committed to your own interests as well. In other words, pursue your own passions and explore them with the same rigor that you approach your premedical subjects. Start planning your premedical track early. I sat down at the end of freshman year and tried to predict what I’d take over the next few years if I was this major or another. When it gets closer to application time, take the HPAC application seriously and start writing your essays early. Finally, talk to as many people as you can who have taken all of these steps before you, especially Trinity alumni. We will help you!

What is the biggest misconception about your field? The biggest misconception that I had about medical school and medicine is that the only way to get into this field and to succeed is by studying the typical premedical subjects, chemistry or biology. You can be a very competitive applicant and not major in a science or a premedical subject at all. That does not mean you should not explore the sciences, it just means you should embrace your liberal arts education and study everything! If you’re a premed, this is your last chance to study whatever you want, so do not waste it.