Kavita Patel, M.D., M.S.H.S., learned about the Clinical Scholars Program when she was in medical school at Oregon Health and Sciences University. As the National President of the American Medical School Association at the time, Dr. Patel said that “many of the leaders before me went on to the Program. Because we were like-minded individuals, it seemed like a perfect fit. I was right.”
Patel completed her training in internal medicine at Oregon Health and Sciences University where she also served as a Chief Resident of Medicine. After that, she entered and completed the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program. A Clinical Scholar at the University of California Los Angeles, Dr. Patel focused her research on mental health care disparities in African American populations in Los Angeles. “The experience was both exciting and unfamiliar; our work really challenged the conventional way of doing things,” Patel says. “But that’s what made it so interesting.”
Following her experience as a Scholar, Patel served as a health services researcher at the University of California Los Angeles. She then moved on to become an Associate Scientist at the RAND Corporation. While at RAND, Dr. Patel focused on a career of intense research.
After focusing her efforts exclusively on research, Patel made the switch and went back to what she loves – policy. Now the Deputy Staff Director for the Health subcommittee of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Patel’s passion for improving health care access for all Americans is part of her daily job.
Patel credits the Clinical Scholars Program with teaching her how to balance the skill sets she needed to have an impact on health policy throughout her career.“The Clinical Scholars Program brought out the best of my personal skills while honing my professional skills,” Patel continues. “The people are top notch. The folks I met as a Scholar are now some of my closest friends. I’m grateful for having been surrounded by such brilliant and exceptional people.”
When asked what piece of advice she would give to potential applicants to the Clinical Scholars Program, Dr. Patel told us, “Potential applicants should feel free to ask a lot of questions. The Program has so much to offer – you want to make sure you know all you can about it.”
Dr. Patel is confident that her experience as a Scholar brought a great deal of value to her career. Among many things, the Program “showed me what an emerging leader needs to be,” says Patel.