This interview is the latest in an Accepted blog series featuring interviews with medical school applicants and students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top medical schools and the med school application process. And now, introducing Abraar Karan, MD Candidate at UCLA, future MPH Candidate at Harvard…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Abraar: I was born in Hyderabad, India and moved here when I was 2 years old. I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles where I spent all of my childhood until college. I attended Yale University and studied Political Science, and was also in the pre-medical track.
Accepted: Where are you in med school and in which year?
Abraar: I am currently a fourth year medical student at UCLA where I serve as the Student Body President.
Accepted: What are your residency plans?
Abraar: I am planning on pursuing a residency in internal medicine.
Accepted: Can you tell us about FAPSE and your personal interest in the Holocaust?
Abraar: I am looking forward to the incredible opportunity through FASPE (Fellowship at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics) to study medical ethics in the context of the atrocities of the Holocaust. Medical professionals had a very significant role as perpetrators of human rights and dignity, and I believe that even today, this example can remind us how to be more conscientious in the care of our patients, particularly regarding issues that don’t have a clear “right vs. wrong” answer.
Accepted: Congrats on your acceptance to Harvard’s School of Public Health! Why did you decide to pursue this additional degree? How will it further your professional goals?
Abraar: I am going to be pursuing an MPH in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. The additional degree will help unify my interests in health systems and clinical medicine. As physicians, we can help a few thousand patients a year, but as public health practitioners, the scale of our impact is much larger.
Accepted: So you’ll be heading back east…which do you prefer – East Coast or West Coast?
Abraar: My heart will always be in the West Coast – my family and childhood draw me here naturally – but some of my most important educational and personal experiences have been in the East Coast, especially in college.
Accepted: We’d love to hear about your book – congrats on that as well! How did you choose the topic?
Abraar: Thank you! “Protecting the Health of the Poor” is a book that I have been working on for the past 5 years. It is a collection of papers from around the world – Latin America, Africa, and South Asia – which describes several instances where politics, economics, business, law, religion, and other fields interact with and influence the health of the extreme poor in complex ways. The book started from a conference on poverty and health held in New Delhi, India in 2011, and the opportunity was granted to me by my professor and mentor, Dr. Thomas Pogge from Yale.
Accepted: You’ve gotten into some top programs, so you clearly know a thing or two about the admissions process. Can you share your top tips for our readers?
Abraar: The most important advice I can give is to be consistently passionate about whatever you are doing. The “cookie-cutter” mentality will only get you so far. The people that truly succeed and make a big difference are those that bring forward original contributions to society. Don’t do what you think you “need” to do – do what you think the world needs from you. They are very different.
Accepted: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Abraar: The journey in medicine or any field that requires mental fortitude and genuine compassion will be long, exhausting, and delayed in its gratification. But, always believe in yourself and remember that our mind is the most powerful part of who we are: perspective is everything.
You can follow Abraar’s next adventure on his website, swasthyamundial.com. Thank you Abraar for sharing your story with us!
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