Senior’s Collective Georgetown Experience to Inform Approach to Medicine

JANUARY 20, 2016 – Pallavi Tatapudy (NHS’16) has focused her time at Georgetown in such a way that all of her diverse experiences have prepared her to approach medicine with a holistic, patient-centered mindset.

The senior human science major from Suffern, N.Y., conducts ongoing genetic laboratory research, leads the Hindu Students Association, and finds inspiration in global health-related activities.

“To me, a physician is not just a scientist who analyzes and presents data to patients, but also a mentor, counselor, teacher, advocate, and healer who works with people,” says Tatapudy, who is in the process of applying to medical school. “Using the combination of skills I have developed as a participant and leader of organizations rooted in science, religion, service, and dance, I want to grow in my career as a human being, not a human doing.”

Laboratory Research

Tatapudy has worked for three years on the laboratory team of Jan LaRocque, PhD, assistant professor of human science, and has led two projects, including her current senior honors thesis.

“Working with Dr. LaRocque is stimulating,” says Tatapudy, who earned funding to support her research through the Georgetown Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. “I particularly admire her quick response time and ability to nurture students by providing a space that welcomes both academic and non-academic questions.”

The research experience, she adds, has sharpened her thinking to synthesize data, critically evaluate findings, and communicate science to a wide range of audiences – important skills for her planned medical career.

Global Experience

In summer 2014, Tatapudy participated in the Department of Human Science’s Translational Health Science Internship in Argentina, led by Pablo Irusta, PhD, associate professor of human science. The annual experience allows students to study respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in laboratory and clinical settings.

“I would do it again,” she says.  “I am really glad I did the program my sophomore year because it really brought to life my NHS education. Seeing kids wheezing in the hospital reinforced the urgency of our research on RSV in the lab.”

And for four years, she has taken part in Global Medical Brigades, serving as vice president of outreach and marketing her sophomore year and vice president her junior year.

“While we are in Honduras, we provide care, educate the families, and train community health workers all in an effort to empower the rural communities,” she says. “Each brigade experience has really been a two-way street. This program is one of the main reasons I want to pursue medicine, and I plan to join brigades as a physician.”

Cura Personalis

Tatapudy notes that her work with the Office of Campus Ministry, as president of the Hindu Students Association, has strengthened her appreciation for the Jesuit ideal of cura personalis – or care for the whole person: mind, body, and spirit.

She has invested in efforts to hire a chaplain and secure a prayer space for Hindu students, while also building bridges across traditions through several interfaith collaborations.

“My involvement in Campus Ministry has helped me understand people as inherently good, multifaceted beings,” she says. “I have developed meaningful relationships based in trust and mutual respect by actively engaging with and learning from people of varying faiths and cultures. When I started at Georgetown, I thought that cura personalis might be a phrase just printed on brochures. But then I learned it is a living, breathing philosophy that I plan to bring with me in my future patient interactions.”

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Department of Human Science

The LaRocque Lab