Untraditional Path to Traditional Medicine

Uma Ramoutar (right) with John Starbuck, Ph.D. (left)

Alumna Uma Ramoutar is making history. She’s one of just 50 students selected for the first class of the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine at Nova Southeastern University (NSU).

Initially a biology major with a psychology minor, Ramoutar chose a different path to medical school in search of a broader education.

“Though I knew I wanted to pursue medicine, I chose biology over a more medically-focused field as I was enamored with the idea of a broader education,” she said.

After being exposed to forensic anthropology, she decided to replace her psychology minor for a second major in anthropology.

“I realized not only how beneficial my anthropology courses were to medicine, but how important they were for a well-rounded appreciation of the field,” Ramoutar said. “I realized that an interdisciplinary approach to medicine would not only make my studies more rewarding, but would eventually go on to benefit my future patients.”

Classes such as Cultural Anthropology allowed her to understand that there’s more to patients than their medical status. Now, she realizes that factors like culture, religion and morals/values play an important role in how to treat a patient.

Over the past year, Ramoutar worked at the Image Analysis and Morphometrics Lab with John Starbuck, Ph.D. as a research assistant. There, she analyzed CT and MRI images of children with Down syndrome and craniosynostosis. She looks at the images to determine if structures such as the cranial vault or vertebrae, sinuses, nasal passages are present in entirety.

Her experience in Starbuck’s lab allowed her to achieve more than she would have in a traditional classroom. Instead of merely seeing photos of the anatomical structures, she’s able to manipulate the images for a real-world purpose.

“In school, students have limitations to what they can and can’t do,” Ramoutar said. “In Dr. Starbuck’s lab, I felt like I had more of a foot in the door, like I was capable of something worthy.”

Even though Ramoutar took a less-conventional route to medical school, she’s excited about the opportunity of being part of the first class of NSU’s Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine.

“I feel so lucky and blessed to be part of a group that will redefine traditional medicine,” she said.

She hopes her time in medical school will provide her a solid foundation for eventually becoming a surgeon and using those skills to serve disadvantaged communities in the United States and abroad.

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