Always a Student: The Medical Field after Trinity College – Nikhil Sikand ‘07

Always a Student: The Medical Field after Trinity College – Nikhil Sikand ‘07

Interviewed by Brooke LePage ‘19

 

BL: What have you done since leaving Trinity?

 

NS: I sort of have an unusual path for a political science major in the sense that I am actually in the medical field. I was a pre-med, political science major at Trinity and most of my classes were in my concentration, American Government, although I did quite a bit with international political economy. After college, I took some more science courses as part of a post baccalaureate master’s program at the University of Connecticut. I did that for about a year and then received my MD degree at Tufts University. I then pursued a residency at Yale in internal medicine. That allowed me to come back to Connecticut. I then had a three year cardiology fellowship that focused on my specialty within medicine. I am currently finishing up my third year and will be done with it in a couple of months. Afterwards, I will be an attending physician and teaching at the Columbia University School of Medicine based out of Stanford Hospital in Connecticut in the summer. A bit of an unusual path, from political science to a medical career.

 

BL: Is there anything you learned at Trinity that you’ve used or that has helped you in your career?

 

NS: I think I probably use my Trinity education everyday which is kind of unusual on its surface because I think people think a lot of what we do is knowledge based and technical, which it is, but I am also grateful for having a really solid liberal arts background. I think what I specifically took from my political science major was substantial writing skills and the ability to communicate effectively. I have to do that all the time. On a simple level, we have to communicate our notes as physicians and we also write technical papers where one’s ability to write is critical. Otherwise, we write all kinds of other articles; we serve on committees in the hospital and have to write for that as well. Both written and oral communication and the ability to effectively get your point across, to present in front of a group of people, to have thoughtful discussions–those are all things that happen all the time in the classroom especially as you get to higher level seminars. Much of the class is not just a professor talking but rather students discussing difficult topics that do not always have an answer. In medicine, a lot of what we do is navigating difficult topics with fellow physicians. Trinity helped me traverse that social environment. Rather than just learning science and having a bit of a head start when beginning med school, I think the ability to write and communicate well are all important skills in any workplace, especially in the medical field if you want to be successful. Beyond that, having a liberal arts education makes you a more interesting person. It makes you someone people want to talk to and have discussions with. I think it just makes you a better member of society.

 

BL: I think that a lot of students have a hard time communicating the value of a liberal arts education so I think that is really great. What is your proudest accomplishment since graduating Trinity?

 

NS: That’s tough. I think for me, probably, finishing medical school or really getting into medical school. That always seemed like something impossible to do for me. Now that I look back, when I finished medical school it felt like a huge accomplishment. And now, since I have been training for a long time and practicing, I look back and think, “Yeah, I guess it was something.” It’s a huge deal for me, especially coming from a non-science background. I knew a few people that went to med school after Trinity but most people did not go that route back then. I think it has likely changed a bit now but when I was there, there were many people going to medical school.

 

BL: That’s awesome! What are some hobbies, passion projects, successes or milestones that you would like Trinity to be aware of?

 

NS: I did not study abroad at Trinity which is something I kind of regret but it was difficult being premed and also doing political science and taking all of my courses. However, after Trinity, whether it is through medical school or other trainings, I have been able to travel a lot in Europe, Asia and throughout the United States–some of it to do with medical relief work and some not. Personally, I really enjoy fitness and running, especially outdoors, so I have started doing half marathons. I’ve done a couple now. I also do some volunteer work. My wife is on the board of a nonprofit in New London, CT, that I have had the pleasure of helping. It’s called the Writer’s Block and helps inner city kids who are interested in the arts pursue after school programs and learn how to do theater. Unfortunately, through personal family tragedy, I have been more involved with the Suicide Prevention Hotline and prevention groups to help people who are depressed. So that is another thing I do to volunteer. Outside of that, I love teaching medical students. I have gone through all of this medical training which makes me want to give back and teach it to students. So, in all of my roles since medical school I have been involved with teaching.

 

BL: I think you set the bar very high for others to answer that question! Is there anything else you would want alums to know about you?

NS: I think everyone I know from Trinity feels this way which is why I responded to Dr. Chambers’s email but I think Trinity is just such a special place. I think part of that is the people that work there, but also the school itself. My best friends in life are from Trinity. I did not love it 100% all the time. When I first started at Trinity, I had a bit of a hard time adjusting to college. I was very much like “I don’t even know if I should be here.” I even considered transferring. Four years later, I left kicking and screaming because I did not want to leave. Since then, I have seen a lot of my friends. I am still in touch with them. I actually had dinner last week with some of them, including one of my old roommates and his wife. And, throughout my 20s and early 30s, I met people who I was not friends with while at Trinity but whom I came across and have made new friends with. In general, I do not think you would get that kind of experience at a huge school. I think it is a unique community and I think alumni and current students should take more advantage of that and keep that in mind when they are considering Trinity. Just because you are graduating does not mean you won’t continue to be involved in that community.