IMP Participant Spotlight: Sidak Pannu, MSIII

Sidak Pannu, Class of 2018

Sidak Pannu, Class of 2018

May 5, 2015

Third-year medical student Sidak Pannu came to GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) from India in 2012, thanks to a program for international students run by the Office of International Medicine Programs. A Magna Cum Laude graduate of Brandeis University, majoring in both biology and economics and member of Phi Beta Kapp, medicine is in Pannu’s DNA. Both of his parents are practicing physicians back home in India, and his sister, Ameeka, is an SMHS M.D. Class of 2012 alumna. Pannu has been an active student while at SMHS. He volunteered at orientation day, was a student interviewer for the incoming Class of 2018, was a director and script writer for the Class of 2016 GW Follies, served as a ‘Big Sib’ student mentor, and participated in several humanities courses including film and literature as they relate to medicine. This year, he has been involved in clinical epidemiological research and is currently serving as a senator representing SMHS for the GW Students Association. He also is a member of the M.D. program’s Global Health Track and has worked extensively in a clinical and academic setting with the Department of Neurology at the Bombay Hospital in Mumbai during his first year summer internship.


Q:  Why did you choose to study medicine?

A:  The word medicine has been ubiquitous in my life so far. I grew up in Mumbai, one of the most vibrant and culturally and religiously diverse cities in the world. While I admire it so much, I could not ignore the existing disparity; while some progressed, others were left behind. I realized that medicine, which I had always viewed as a necessity, was in reality something that was not accessible to everyone. My various experiences in research, summer internships, and volunteer work during my undergraduate years, along with my innate passion for science, cemented my desire to pursue medicine as a profession. I want to be able to make a tangible impact, and to me, few avenues seem better to do so than by being a physician.

Q:  Why did you want to study in the United States and what attracted you to GW?

A:  In my opinion, an education in the United States is synonymous with the foremost in teaching styles and technologies combined with the best teachers and hard-working peers and there are few schools that this is truer for than GW. I was attracted to GW’s program for a multitude of reasons. As a student in the M.D. program, the training I would receive would be extremely useful for me given my interest in pursuing medical practice in a diverse environment such as the one in India. Also, the curriculum at GW embodies the principle that the art of practicing medicine is as important as the science involved in it and the early exposure to clinical practice begins this process from day one. Lastly, the patient population in Washington, D.C., as well as the student body of SMHS, is one of the most diverse that I would ever encounter, something I knew I could gain a lot from and hopefully contribute to as well.

Q:  Tell us about your experience in the Global Health Track, your summer internship at the Bombay Hospital, and your plans for an overseas clinical elective.

A:  I have really enjoyed my experience in the Global Health Track. The lectures have helped to increase my exposure to, and expand my view of important medical issues around the world. My internship at Bombay Hospital allowed me to explore the world of neurology in a developing country. I had the opportunity to see patients in an inpatient, as well as outpatient setting, and I was exposed to a patient population covering a very wide socio-economic range. I also had the opportunity to care for patients with acute neurological injuries ranging from strokes to meningitis in the ICU setting. I learned through my research that while many patients still presented with muscular dystrophies and CVAs, we were also starting to see increased numbers of patients with diseases such as ALS and Huntington’s among others, diseases that are usually associated with developed countries, possibly indicating an impending shift in the demographics of presenting pathologies.

For my upcoming overseas clinical elective, I would like to pursue a rotation in Austria or at one of the other sites affiliated with IMP. My main focus during the clinical elective would be to compare and contrast medicine and the practice of medicine in the setting of a developed versus a developing country, as well as highlight any possible similarities between the two.

Q:  How has IMP enhanced your experience at SMHS?

A:  IMP has been the bedrock of my experience at SMHS. They have been like a family to me since my first day here. The staff at IMP consists of some of the most amazing individuals I have ever met. They are ready to help anyone at the drop of a hat and are always reaching out to the students in their programs to check on their progress as well as offer assistance if it is necessary. Their successful work is evidenced by the admiration held for them by the medical students, the research fellows, and the faculty at GW. It is often seen on display at the IMP annual dinner, which brings together many members of the international community here at SMHS. They have been one of the most important parts of my experience here, and I am very thankful to them for this opportunity.

Q:  What has been the most memorable moment while at SMHS?

A:  For me, the most remarkable experience has been looking back on my first two years and seeing how my knowledge base and clinical skills have expanded with time and will hopefully continue to do so. Maybe the most memorable moment is yet to come!

Q:  What are you future career goals after graduation?

A:  My future goals are to pursue a residency in a specialty that is half-clinical and half-procedural. While I am undecided on my choice of specialty at this time, I would like for it to give me an opportunity to see a patient who presents to clinic with a problem, and then I would be able to provide them with the procedural treatment if that is what will give them the best results. I would like to practice in a medically underserved region. I have also always enjoyed teaching, especially during my tenure as a teaching assistant while in undergrad, and I would like the opportunity to teach in the future as well.

Q:  What do you like to do in your free time?

A:  Is this a rhetorical question? [Laughs] I enjoy staying up-to-date with current affairs from around the world and occasionally following trends in the realm of economics as well. On some weekends and evenings off, I also relish my ever-burgeoning collection of music and watching different sports. I am lucky enough to have made some great friends during my time at GW and prior to that who are scattered across the globe and I will often try and touch base with them. Most importantly, however, I try and speak with family as often as I can since they are very important to me, and I would not be where I am today without all their hard work and blessings.