Spotlight on Bhumika Patel ’18

Bhumika Patel ’18
By Samantha Smoger ’22

Bhumika is a first year Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) student at Western University of Health Sciences in California. A 2018 graduate, Bhumika studied microbiology and nutrition at UVM. She was extensively involved in Student Government and Living Well, where she played a key role in pioneering the first Fresh Check Day here at UVM. Bhumika was also the only student representative on the Dining Implementation Team, where she represented the student body in discussions regarding meal options within the dining halls.  

When discussing why she chose to pursue a career in medicine, Bhumika referenced her Hindu upbringing and described herself as a “very spiritual person” whose experiences had broadened her overall understanding of “health” and the different factors that impact one’s well-being. Bhumika also characterized her passion to “serve the underserved” as a critical component of her decision to pursue a career in the health professions.  

Bhumika took three growth years following graduation from UVM, during which time she worked as a medical assistant at the Community Health Center in Burlington. She emphasized that this experience further solidified her passion for medicine. When reflecting on the value of growth years between undergraduate education and medical school, Bhumika also highlighted that it is “important to breathe and be a person” and utilize this time to both gain valuable experience and learn how to best care for oneself. 

When asked about her time in medical school thus far, Bhumika replied “I thought I was going to be more anxious and worried.” While she acknowledged experiencing the “content overload” that is characteristic of medical school, Bhumika is also striving to incorporate “yoga, meditation, cooking,” and other activities into her daily schedule. She stressed the importance of making time for non-academic endeavors that bring joy into her life, wisely stating “You have to take care of yourself to take care of other people.”  

Bhumika’s parting advice to pre-health students is to not lose sight of the “big picture”. Specifically, she reiterated that the “big picture of medical school is collective healing.” Bhumika also suggests that students “don’t just be pre-med [or pre-health]”, as the connotations of this label can be considerably restricting and stress-inducing. Moreover, Bhumika emphasized that “Being a healthcare professional, or a disciple of medicine, is very important, but it is not all that you are … don’t lose who you are as a person.” 

Interview with David Fickes

David Fickes

By Flavin ’22

For this month’s newsletter I had the pleasure of speaking with the UVM Career Center’s very own David Fickes regarding his story and advice in pursuing an artistic field and how creative careers play a role in other career paths as well. David is currently the Data and Application Support Specialist at UVM and has previously worked as a Career Services Apprentice at Juilliard. David spent his early life interested in technology and music simultaneously, starting in the Green Mountain Youth Symphony. As he continued his studies in music he was given the opportunity to play with the National Youth Orchestra during his time at UVM after which he transferred to UCSB for a BA in Music Violin Performance. After receiving his degree he returned to Vermont to pursue teaching as well as perform with the Vermont Philharmonic. 

Throughout my conversation with David, a major theme emerged from our discussion: connections are key. He continuously emphasized the importance of connections and reaching out to people when pursuing something that you’re passionate about. He spoke passionately about taking charge of your own future though taking every opportunity and trusting your own abilities to succeed. One of the most memorable pieces of advice he provided was that most people want to help you. It might seem scary to reach out to strangers and ask for favors or connections or simply insight, but he stressed over and over again how much people want to help you find your way to what you’re looking for.

He spoke of the importance of developing and highlighting soft skills, such as organization, reliability, time management, and presentation, when marketing yourself to these opportunities. He emphasized that hard skills are a lot easier to learn, but soft skills take more nuance and experience to gain and understand. Often, a willingness to learn can lead to more opportunities that one might think. I quote David when I say, “understand you don’t know everything; while you’re capable you have a lot to learn” when speaking about hands on experience. A willingness to learn and reliability will get you pretty far. 

Lastly, in regards to the Juilliard Professional Apprentice Program, it covers a wide range of interests. From Orchestral Studies to Community Engagement, Administration to Wigs & Makeup Technician, the apprenticeship is a great opportunity for students to gain real world experience and make valuable connections within a specific field. When we spoke about the program, David gave a lot of good insight into the nature of creative apprenticeships, internships, and jobs. He emphasized that the most valuable aspect of these types of programs is connections. Making meaningful connections within the field is the majority of the work. He concluded our interview with some inspiration regarding the path to a creative field: start now. He stressed the importance and value of being able to apply for an opportunity already knowing how to do it. 

Your passion and excitement will shine through if you can accomplish the hard skills you need for the opportunity before you’ve even applied. Feeling confident in your field allows for more focus on making those connections that will provide the chance to utilize the skills you’ve developed. Our conversation concluded with an air of excitement and passion for the arts; flexibility, reliability, and communication are the recipe for success in a creative field. 

Spotlight is on: Dr. Sahib Sachdeva ‘12

Sahib Sachdeva

By Connor Mcclure ’23

Dr. Sahib Sachdeva graduated from UVM in 2012 from the College of Arts and Sciences with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Chemistry and later from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 2017. Dr. Sachdeva now practices dentistry in Ohio.  

Dr. Sachdeva’s experience of having braces motivated him to pursue an internship with a local periodontal office. Observing and working with the technicians and dentists in the office inspired him further. Being able to connect this experience with the science classes and material that he was learning at UVM encouraged him to help people in the real world in the form of dental care.  

After graduation from UVM, Dr. Sachdeva took a growth year, found employment in a restaurant, and volunteered in health care settings when he could. He said that what he learned from his time volunteering was extremely valuable and supported him in his pursuit of dental school. At Tufts, the education was challenging and rigorous, yet highly rewarding and fun. One of Dr. Sachdeva’s most memorable experiences from dental school was the dissection of a cadaver in an anatomy course. While he said he was grateful for this experience, he is glad he never has to do it again!  

For undergraduate students pursuing the path of dentistry or other pre-heath paths, Dr. Sachdeva encourages students to find connections and develop time management skills. Dr. Sachdeva notes that building connections with professors, faculty, TAs, and fellow students are extremely important in building your network and connections.  He also strongly encourages students interested in the pre-dental path to reach out to local dental offices to establish connections, as well as potentially volunteering or interning with their office. Most importantly, he suggests, is to make sure to take care of yourself. He found physical activity, traveling, music, and using his support network of peers and colleagues to help him throughout the process of become a Dentist.  

In terms of his profession as a dentist, Dr. Sachdeva commented on both the challenges are rewards of his job. The most rewarding parts of his job are helping patients to be comfortable in the dental environment and his favorite procedure is fixing a chipped tooth. As a dentist, Dr. Sachdeva feels it is very important to work with his team to put the patient first and meet their needs. In the conclusion of our interview, Dr. Sachdeva emphasized that as health care providers and students, it is important to take time to care for yourself, practice your hobbies, and find what interests you. 

Spotlight on: Julia Sexton ’21

I am a Senior Biochemistry major and a Peer Leader within the Health Professions Interest Group at the Career Center. This fall, I will be attending Pharmacy school to pursue my Pharm.D at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Albany, New York. Being from the Albany area, I was initially drawn to UVM because of the location and because of the strong pre-health advising. Throughout my undergraduate coursework, I discovered that I was mostly interested in how chemicals and medications could be used in the treatment of disease, while also searching for a profession in patient care, leading me to consider a career in pharmacy. I started working as a Pharmacy Technician at Walgreens last fall. Through this role, I have become a Nationally Certified Pharmacy Technician and a COVID-19 vaccine immunizer. After pharmacy school, I hope to complete a 1-2 year residency to become eligible to work in clinical settings. 

Throughout my time at UVM, I have been an active member in Chicks on Sticks, an all-female-identifying club focusing on increasing women representation in the ski and snowboard industries. Over my winter breaks, I have also worked as a Ski Patroller at Gore Mountain in upstate New York. That being said, I have a passion for skiing. Being at UVM has allowed me to ski and explore many ski areas I had never been to before. My favorite resort in Vermont is probably Jay Peak, aside from the long drive. However, this season I had the Ikon pass and a Smugglers Notch pass, so I skied primarily at Sugarbush and Smuggs.   

My advice to any student considering a career in pharmacy or healthcare is to try to listen to your gut rather than the people around you. Yes, it is challenging to get into professional programs, but try not to let others discourage you from pursuing your dreams. Along with this, try not to let others (especially parents) steer you in the direction they think is best for you. At the end of the day, you need to consider what career will be most fulfilling for you, not what would make others happiest. Lastly, don’t be afraid to change your mind. I jumped from idea to idea before I finally landed on pharmacy. I also got experience in the field to ensure that this was the path for me. You have plenty of time to change your mind!

Spotlight on: Maddie Panyard ’21

I am a Senior Animal Science major and a Peer Leader within the Health Professions Interest Group at the Career Center. I have been a part of health-related peer mentoring at the UVM Career Center for three years now and will deeply miss all the friends and counselors that I have connected with through this role. When I joined the Career Center team initially, I was a sophomore pre-med student who was majoring in Biochemistry. I thought I was interested in cancer research and wanted to become an oncologist. However, after taking a biochemistry class and shadowing a pediatric oncologist, I realized that was not the job for me and I did not want to limit myself to just cancer-related things. In my first year as a pre-health peer mentor at the UVM Career Center I learned that there is an incredible amount of healthcare jobs besides the typical physician. I also realized that my childhood passion for animals was not going away in my college life as I worked as a stable hand and kennel assistant. Therefore, I decided to explore the world of veterinary medicine and discovered that I absolutely loved it. I ended up switching into the Animal Science major to be able to take animal health specific classes and grow close with professors who hold DVMs (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine).

I learned invaluable networking and job-related information from the Career Counselors and my peers at UVM which allowed me to attain a wide variety of experience in my undergraduate years. Specifically, my advisor at UVM helped me land an amazing veterinary assistant internship abroad in South Africa for the Summer of 2019 where I was able to learn about the importance wildlife population health on human health. After that experience, I networked with local clinics and landed an ICU overnight technician job at Vermont Large Animal Clinic for my junior year. Following that, I attained a Veterinary Technician position at River Cove Animal Hospital in Williston, VT where I am currently employed. After graduation, I will continue working there full-time as a veterinary technician while I apply to veterinary school. As of right now, my career goal is to own a practice that focuses on creating personal relationships with both my patients and their human owners. 

For my undergraduate peers debating on a career in healthcare, the best advice I can give you is to explore everything that University of Vermont has to offer. These four years are not the time to “check box” your requirements for a professional experience, rather they are for you to figure out who you are, what you love, and meet individuals who will help you get to your goals. Join the club that you want to, change your major if you need to, and invest in your hobbies. If healthcare is for you, I promise that everything will fall in place for you. These experiences, health-related or not, will expose you to new people and new things that will let you know whether this “thing” is for you. Personally, I changed my major three times in college and do not regret it.

My career goals jumped from medical school to PA school to veterinary school in the past four years. Yes, all these career goals were in the realms of healthcare but my experiences and interactions with UVM faculty, peers, and alumni helped me narrow down my focus to something that fit me. I am extremely thankful for my experiences (good AND bad) in all the different healthcare fields because it just makes me feel reassured that I chose the right career path. Have fun, experience as much as you desire, and most importantly be YOU!

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