Vijay Kamalumpundi

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Vijay Kamalumpundi
Degree:
Human Physiology B.S.

Diversifying my experiences as a Health and Human Physiology student has been one of my primary goals since my freshman year. While I have enjoyed many HHP classes, the application of the knowledge I acquired in my classes has afforded me both an academically rigorous and personally enriching experience at the University of Iowa.

Last winter I applied for a spot in the India Winterim course centered around Palliative Care, a philosophy of care and specialty in medicine that focuses on easing suffering and maintaining quality of life for people with serious life threatening illnesses. While I was in India, I was struck by the genuine nature and altruistic attitude in each individual working within Pallium India (a palliative care NGO which hosts the course). Each person, be it physician, nurse, social worker, physiotherapist, etc.. wholeheartedly devoted their time to patients who were suffering from serious complications and end-stage illness.

While I was learning about a philosophy of care that was new to me, I was simultaneously exploring questions about my dual Indian-American identity. The experiences I had in India moved me so much that I wrote and published a narrative describing the connections these experiences have with the universal bearings of medicine. Shortly after I published the paper, I began receiving emails from dual-identifying students from around the world who shared similar stories of striving to consolidate their identity, each in their own unique contexts. I seemed to give context to what some other people were experiencing. It opened my eyes to the power that self-reflection had in a largely science driven medical environment. I began to ask myself What if we just stepped back from time to time and ask ourselves how we’ve grown because of certain experiences?

My education in HHP has challenged me to push myself past the surface level experiences of simply taking courses in Human Physiology. The insights in India encouraged me to think about what kinds of experiences that I want to equip myself with to bring new perspectives to my future medical team. To all students at Iowa, I highly encourage you to be vulnerable and curious. Be engaged in the classroom but also push yourself go out and explore opportunities outside of the classroom. For me, my vulnerability inspired self-discovery, and refined who I want to be as a physician at the bedside.