Written by: Harini Gurram
“Find your happy because you will perform better.” This is what Dr. Neelum T. Aggarwal, AMWA’s Chief Diversity Officer, said to me as I was learning a little more about her own history. This phrase really stuck with me because she was encouraging all of us to mold our careers so that they include our passions, despite anyone telling us that we have to choose which interest we want to center our careers around. Dr. Aggarwal graduated medical school in 1992 from Rosalind Franklin University Chicago Medical School where approximately 50% of her class was made up of women (liking those stats? me too). She went on to pursue a residency in Neurology at Henry Ford Hospital, and completed a fellowship in Aging and Neurodegenerative Disorders at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center. She is the Clinical Core Co-leader of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and Director of Research at the Rush Heart Center for Women, at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. She is a longtime AMWA member, serving two board terms, and is now AMWA’s Chief Diversity Officer.
She believes that AMWA serves an important role in the lives and careers of women medical students because the organization continually offers opportunities for the younger generation to receive career mentorship and participate in educational activities. . AMWA’s Section on Diversity and Inclusion is fully dedicated to increasing the participation and fostering leadership of women and minorities within the organization and in the broader medical community. Wanting to celebrate the ethnic diversity of the AMWA membership (and to share some delicious recipes), Dr. Aggarwal helped spearhead the development of the AMWA Centennial Cookbook.
Before you go, Dr. Aggarwal has four pieces of advice for all of you students out there who are pursuing a career in medicine:
#1 Stay curious. Always be striving to understand the very important question “why?”
#2 Try to understand where your patients are coming from. Every person and patient you will see grew up in a unique cultural environment and has their own set of experiences that shapes their view of the world. Be understanding of that. It will make you a better physician.
#3 Whatever activities you do, write it down, and prepare you work for scholarship. Dr. Aggarwal was not taught the importance of this in medical school or residency so she now encourages and mentors students to look at submitting scholarly work as part of their formal medical training. Be intentional in this activity, do this type of work on purpose.
#4 Find your happy.