Nirmal Ravi sees himself as a combined degree student. He is pursuing one degree in MD (Doctor of Medicine) and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering. The University of Kentucky is where he is studying and he tells us just how he chose those two fields of interest. “My background was in Bio-medical Engineering and when I first came to the U-S it was to do my master’s in Bio-medical Engineering and during the course of that, I always had an interest in medicine,” he says. “I tried to go to medical school after high school and it did not work out and while I was pursuing a master’s in Bio-med, I got an opportunity to do some work in a hospital and that kind of renewed my interest in medicine. So I went ahead and applied for the MD and I got it and I decided to pursue a combined degree.”
So where is Nirmal from and why did he choose to study in the United States? He says...”I’m from India and my state is called Kerala it is on the Southwest coast of India and I came to the U-S in 2001 and the reason I chose the U-S is because I had a few seniors in my college in India who had gone to the U-S to the same university I am at so I had a few contacts here and at that time the U-S was my best choice rather than going to Britain or Australia.”
Nirmal says there are about 30,000 students and approximately 3,000 international students at University of Kentucky. When it comes to his coursework, Nirmal is moving right along and shares with us what a typical day is for him. “Well, right now I have finished the first three years of my MD and I am doing the PhD part. Since I have already completed my courses before I stated my MD, I do not have any courses that I am taking right now,” he says.
“So for example, I came to the lab in the morning and I would do some experiments and basically just doing some research, but when I was in med school those days were start early at eight o’clock and I would go to my lectures,” he says. “We had lectures from eight to twelve and then in the afternoon we were mostly free to go home and study which was really nice and different from something back in India or sometimes we would go see patients in the afternoon. That is what my days were like.”
The 28 year old has some experience in the medical field back home due to the fact that both of his parents are physicians. With that being said, Nirmal's viewpoint on the healthcare system here and in India is… “I think it is a very interesting subject. I have a lot of experience with the medical field in India because both of my parents are physicians and I also have a little bit of experience working in Southern Africa over the summer doing medical work and at least when I compare India and the U-S as far as healthcare is concerned, I am from a state which has a high index of public health,” he says.
“It is even comparable to Scandinavian countries and we have a really good public health system, but sometimes what bothers me is that although the U-S has one of the best medicine in the world, there public health system is sometimes lacking. I know a friend who if they don’t have insurance they cannot go see a doctor, even if they have a simple U-T-I (urinary tract infection),” he says.
“In my state which is much poorer compared to the U-S you could woman clinic and get treated the same day. You do not need insurance, you have a public health system.”
During his leisure time Nirmal splits his time dancing and talking about international relations and diplomacy. “I like to dance and recently I am an apprentice at one of the dance societies in our city called The Lexington Vintage Dance Society. So I dance with them and it is great fun we have practice every week, we have performances coming up and I am very excited about it and other than that I have an interest in International Relations and Diplomacy. I get to talk with people here at the office of International Affairs we have informal chats and it keeps me interested in things that are going on in the world.”
Nirmal has another couple of years to finish up his PhD and two more years with his MD. So he sees himself finishing by 2010 or 20011. As for what happens after that, Nirmal isn't sure exactly what he will do, however he does have some good ideas. “To be honest with you, I haven’t figured exactly out what I want to do with my combined degree. It is a unique fieldm set that I will be getting when I graduate and I have a big interest in global health or international health however you call it, so I really would like to use my knowledge and skill to work in international health.”