Ketan Patel, BS ’08, MBA ’10, came to GW in 2004 with aspirations of becoming a doctor.
In the summer of 2005, Mr. Patel spent several months in India visiting clinics and hospitals, recording his observations in a journal. After graduating from GW’s School of Engineering and Applied Science in 2008, Mr. Patel began applying to medical schools.
Needing inspiration to tackle the essay portion of the applications, he picked up that journal from his trip to India. While reading, he remembered several experiences that made him question the country’s healthcare system. One entry described how a severely burned 23- year-old woman was denied care because there weren’t enough resources for all the patients.
Mr. Patel himself suffered from burn injuries when he was 7 years old, so he felt a powerful connection to that woman.
“As I read that journal entry again I thought, what could I do differently as a doctor,” he said. “These doctors wanted to help this woman but they didn’t have the authority to do it. I realized that instead I wanted to travel around the world and build a different kind of healthcare system.”
In 2010, after graduating from GW’s School of Business, Mr. Patel founded Dr. Interns, a non-profit organization that brings doctors and medical student interns to Surat, India for two weeks to provide healthcare to community members and bring awareness to the health care disparities around the world. In the past four years, more than 100 interns from more than 50 universities have traveled to India with the program. This year, approximately 40 interns will travel to Surat to work at Shree Prannath Hospital.
Mr. Patel works with Dr. Interns team members, including his twin brother, Kamal Patel, BS’08, MD’13., an emergency room doctor in Philadelphia, to offer fellowships to a few students every year, which covers the full cost of the trip.
For Elizabeth Gomes, BS’13, her time with Dr. Interns in 2010 challenged her lifelong dream of becoming a pediatric oncologist.
“About halfway through the internship I started realizing that I was becoming more interested in how and why people were getting sick and ending up in the hospital, versus how they were going to treat them once they were there,” she said.
After her trip, Ms. Gomes changed her major to public health, and this June she will move to Togo, Africa to be community health and AIDS prevention worker for the Peace Corps.
Mr. Patel recently donated $10,000 to Dr. Interns, and his employer PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) matched the gift for a total of $20,000. He views his donation to GW and the matching gift from PwC as an investment in Dr. Interns and its students, who will hopefully go on to make an impact in the fields of public health and healthcare.
“I am donating to the students at GW,” he said. “I feel that as an alumnus I owe it to the students.”
Visit Dr. Interns for more information.