From Jet Engines to Pediatrics: Vidhu Pandey Finds a Match at UMN Medical School
Medicine is a second career for Vidhu Pandey, who worked as an aeronautical engineer for nearly a decade—even interning on the space program with NASA working on a space shuttle main engine—before deciding he needed a change.
“My step-father passed away and I kind of had this quarter-life crisis,” he says. “So when all this happened, I asked myself if I was really doing what I was happy with, and the answer was ‘Maybe not.’ ”
Pandey started shadowing and volunteering. He started with night classes in physiology and anatomy and realized he had a connection to the field. Beyond the science, he says, connecting with people was an important difference from his career designing jet engines. “I actually like to talk to people,” he says. “I like to educate them and I like to teach.”
At first, he was worried about being an older, non-traditional medical student. Some of his engineering colleagues even poked fun at him, wondering how he’d get along with the typically younger students he’d be taking classes with, but the fears turned out to be unfounded.
“It was really surprising to me,” he says. “The quality and professionalism and character of the other students in my class. I don’t think if I’d have done medical school straight out of college I would’ve been nearly as mature and ready to face the challenge as some of these people are. Hats off to them.”
Still, Pandey has no regrets. He says his time exploring his previous career was a necessary step. And this idea, of taking time to explore, has carried through in his time at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
“The cool thing about school here is you have some required coursework, and then the rest is up to you,” he says. “I’ve taken transplant surgery. I’ve taken ophthalmology. You’re only in medical school once so you might as well get the most from it that you can.”
As a husband and father with two small children—a son, Walter, who is just over two years old, and a daughter, Thea, who was born in the fall—Pandey’s results on Match Day will affect the entire family. Thankfully, his wife Diana, a physician, understands the process; the two met in Cincinnati during her residency.
“I think the biggest anxiety for me is not really knowing,” he says. “I’m the type of person who likes to plan ahead and have an idea of what I’m getting into.”
While he has to wait for Match Day to find out his next steps, Pandey does know where he hopes to be in the future: helping families in critical care and continuing to raise his own.
“When I took my sub-internship in the ICU over the summer, I found a lot of value in talking to families and getting their questions answered,” he says. “I thought that was really powerful and it’s something I look forward to making a big part of my practice when I’m doing it in the thick of things 20 years from now.”
Update: On March 16, 2018, Vidhu Pandey matched with University of Minnesota in Medicine-Pediatrics! Learn more about Match Day 2018, find more student stories like this one, and our full list of matches at med.umn.edu/matchday2018.
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“I would say that I am 99 percent excited, and just a little scared,” said McKinnon. “I’m going to be happy wherever I end up, as long as I make it to the next step.”
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