Dr. Sumir Brahmbhatt, who spent the past year training at the Chattanooga Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders, is slated to begin his Internal Medicine residency at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hi. Dr. Brahmbatt graduated from University College, a medical school in Dublin, Ireland and joined the ACSD staff to gain clinical experience in the U.S.
Dr. Brahmbhatt’s story is not the only one. The Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders has been the transitional home of many medical school applicants and aspirants alike. Having served the greater Chattanooga and North Georgia community for the past 20 years, ACSD is progressively earning a reputation as an impressive teaching facility, said officials. Clinical Director and Founder Dr. Anuj Chandra has opened his doors to Virginia College, Miller Motte Technical School and Chattanooga College to provide medical assistant training rotations. The center also equips students at UTC and ETSU and other schools who are seeking to apply to medical school and other post-baccalaureate medical programs with clinical and shadowing experience.
Victoria Godwin, a medical assistant and sleep technician at ACSD, will begin medical school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine in the fall. Ms. Godwin, a former lacrosse player and graduate of Roanoke College, says “Working at the Sleep Center has given me a chance to gain an overall picture of healthcare, from patient encounters to administration, insurance and supply companies. I have also gained more confidence educating patients. Working here really gave my medical school applications a competitive edge, and more importantly provided me with clinical experiences I could not have gotten elsewhere.”
Medical school hopeful Wittmann Murphy started his time at ACSD as a sleep technician and has recently been promoted to clinical coordinator. He has earned accolades for his bedside manner and ability to assess and address patients’ needs. When he is not in the Clinic, Mr. Murphy enjoys tennis, drawing and photography. A Nashville native, Mr. Murphy recently graduated from UTC with a major in chemistry and minor in biology. Reflecting upon his time at ACSD, Mr. Murphy says “Being able to interact with patients and learn from physicians and nurse practitioners has reaffirmed my calling and passion for medicine.”
Kayla Jones, a new member of the ACSD staff, is a nationally ranked tennis player aiming to become a physician’s assistant. She graduated from UTC with a major in biology and minor in chemistry. Ms. Jones is training to take Ms. Godwin’s position, and she said she is excited to gain clinical experience while she prepares for the GRE and PA school.
Dr. Chandra has also started a continuing medical education program for medical school graduates who are awaiting residency. Geared towards recent graduates who are not yet eligible to practice on their own, this transitional program provides them with opportunities for clinical practice under direct supervision of licensed physicians, Dr. Chandra and his wife, Dr. Lotika Pandit.
When asked about his motivation for clinical teaching, Dr. Chandra says, “While medical schools are graduating more doctors in response to the physician shortage, there has not been a proportionate increase in the number of residency training positions. The medical community has an obligation to help medical school graduates achieve their career goals. These young physicians have worked very hard to complete their studies, and their education and talents should not go unused. I feel it is my duty to help these students become the practicing physicians they aspire to be. By making my clinic a place where they can improve their clinical knowledge and practice their clinical skills, I hope to do just that.”
After a brief pause to reflect, he adds, “The word doctor means ‘teacher.’ Part of being a physician is teaching—educating our patients as well as rising physicians. We should be lifelong students and teachers.”
Before departing for residency training in Hawaii, Dr. Brahmbhatt trained his replacement, Dr. Laura Vargas, who happens to be from Honolulu, the city where he will be next fall. Like Dr. Brahmbhatt, Dr. Vargas was searching for an opportunity to hone her clinical skills while awaiting a residency spot.
“I am so grateful for this opportunity,” Dr. Vargas says. “When I did not match into a residency position, I was concerned that I would need to find an alternate career path. Working for ACSD has reinforced by desire to pursue a career in clinical medicine, and I will keep applying to residency for the sake of my future patients.”
Dr. Vargas graduated from the ETSU Quillen College of Medicine. After graduation, she was a research assistant for the Quillen College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and curriculum auditor for Academic Affairs. She is a married mother of two, and she has a passion for writing poetry and fiction. Dr. Chandra has an ability to recognize hidden talent, and he has provided Dr. Vargas with the opportunity to gain writing experience while training at his facility. Dr. Chandra seeks to bring this emphasis on individuality in his clinical practice, where he emphasizes customized patient care, geared towards treating the patients’ individual clinical needs.