Sadhana Dharmapuri, M.D.
I had graduated from PUMS in 2002. After my graduation I did a residency in Pediatrics at University of Illinois in Chicago and then a fellowship in Adolescent Medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. I am an assistant professor in adolescent medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee currently. When I look out at you, I am reminded of my journey that brought me to where I am today. It started at PUMS.
I had decided to apply to medical school a few years after graduating from college. I was a little bit older than most students applying to medical school but just as determined. My father had mentioned PUMS to me several years prior but at that time I was not ready to make a commitment to medicine. However as I was looking into applying to medical schools I added PUMS to my list. At first I thought what a great way to learn medicine, in Europe! I was ready for an adventure! But then I did more research on the school and realized that it was one of the top medical schools in Poland, amongst other foreign medical schools it had a great reputation for providing a high quality education to American students, and that it not only followed an American medical school format but it also had faculty that had done some training in the United States, and were aware of American medical standards. I applied without hesitation and with great delight was accepted. I had never been to Poland but took a leap of faith that I was starting out on a fruitful adventure that would provide me opportunities that were unexpected.
My first few months here were challenging. I slowly learned polish and where to buy food and how to use the phone! Faculty and staff were amazingly helpful and kind to me during this period of transition. They were readily available to answer the many questions that I had. As I became more comfortable with my surroundings I started to focus more on my academics. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my classes. However I was pleasantly surprised to find that my classes focused on what I needed to pursue my medical career in the states. The first two years of academics focused on everything that I would encounter on the USMLE step1. The text books that were recommended were the text books that most of American friends, who were attending American medical schools were using. Most of the exams were of the same quality as used in American medical schools as well. The few differences that stand out for me were the intensity of some of the basic science classes, such as pathology and pathophysiology. Some of the most memorable moments for me are of the professors that demanded and expected more of us as students. Because of these classes and the professors who taught them I was more than prepared when I did electives in the US and rotations during residency.
The third and fourth years of medical school provided me amazing opportunities, that in hindsight, I may not have had in the US. In particular, I remember being able to assist in surgical procedures, perform a spinal tap, and work in the ER, learning valuable skills such as placing an IV and suturing. These skills were incredibly useful and appreciated during my intern year of residency.
What I remember most of all was the empathy and commitment all the physicians I worked with had for their patients.
I was uncertain how my education at PUMS would be interpreted in the US. When I applied to residency programs I was pleasantly surprised to find that many programs were interested in me.
I often look back at my time in Poznan and at PUMS, fondly, and would not change a thing. I am fortunate to have fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. I am also fortunate to have had this experience at PUMS. I realized that the education I had received at PUMS was not a barrier but a stepping stone to my success.