Hundreds of AUC graduates, their families, and faculty members hung on to the words of Dr. Paul Nanda, Corporate Medical Director of Fast Track Urgent Care in Tampa, FL, and AUC’s 2016 Commencement Ceremony keynote speaker.
A 2003 graduate of AUC, Nanda has spent the past decade pursuing opportunities in global health and building pathways for students to do the same. His interest in global health was sparked while at AUC but grew substantially when he and several classmates completed clinical rotations in the United Kingdom.
“It was a great decision for us,” he said. “Having the opportunity to work in multiple different systems left a lasting impression on how I view healthcare models.”
Nanda carried that curiosity into a family medicine residency at The Ohio State University, where little to no international opportunities existed. So, he decided to create his own abroad experience and organized a second-year rotation at a rural hospital in Zimbabwe—a country with less than 1,000 fully-qualified full-time physicians for 15 million. That’s compared to 50,000 physicians living in the state of Florida alone. Zimbabwe also has high medical morbidity with about 15 percent of the total population infected with HIV.
During his speech, Nanda recalled unique experiences from his time in Zimbabwe.
“I remember one of the first nights I spent there. I was staying in a little thatched hut in a kind of rural area of Zimbabwe. I was going to sleep and in the background on the warm breeze of the African bush, I heard some drum beats and I thought, ‘Wow, this is a really cool organic experience that I get to have.’ About five minutes later, there was some intense pounding on my door and I was summoned to the hospital. No one took the time to inform me that those drums beating were the hospital paging system to signal emergency. I found myself in the middle of a c-section, assisting for a patient who had failure to progress. We delivered her baby, the baby struggled a little bit, and in one foul swoop I realized I was able to provide anesthesia for the patient, help deliver this baby, and also function as a pediatrician—as only a well-trained family physician can do.”
Listen to Dr. Nanda’s full address on our YouTube page:
Since Zimbabwe, Nanda’s global health contributions have been numerous and significant. He provided care to HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients in Sub-Saharan Africa; led medical rescue courses in the remote jungles of Belize; helped with disaster relief services following the earthquake in Haiti; provided urgent care in low socioeconomic areas of New Zealand; and led a team of 45 medical students on a month-long mission trip to remote Northern India. These experiences reignited a passion for medicine and underscored the opportunity to effect lives and leave a sustainable, permanent difference.
Nanda urged graduates to use their skillset as physicians to speak for patients without a voice, serve as conduits of change, and champion individuals and communities currently underserved.
“I believe that AUC students are educated with a broad problem-based background and learning structure that further prepares them to move the healthcare system forward. Students who choose to do their rotations, volunteer, or work overseas are further uniquely qualified to participate in discussions about the future of healthcare in the United States.”