How to Pre-Health at Tech: Ritika Chanda, Fourth-Year Neuroscience Student
How to Pre-Health at Tech is a new series of stories and experiences with our faculty, current students, and alumni working in healthcare and medical fields. Check back throughout the spring for interviews with:
- Alonzo Whyte, faculty member, academic advisor for the Health and Medical Sciences (HMED) Minor, director of academic advising for the Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience, and development leader in the School of Biological Sciences
- Jeffrey Kramer, first-year biology undergraduate
- Jenna Nash (NEUR '21), physician assistant graduate student
- Charles Winter (BIO '12), anesthesiologist assistant
Ritika Chanda has made the most of her time at Georgia Tech. Through challenging classes, undergraduate research, leadership roles in student organizations, and an internship, Chanda shares she's ready to enter the healthcare field after graduation.
She encourages all students to take advantage of their time at Tech to get involved in various activities to learn more about their future career path. She shares that “I am someone who strives to challenge myself and try new things,” and her time at Georgia Tech certainly has been full of excitement and discovery.
While serving as president of Student Hospital Connections (SHC), the organization was awarded “Burdell’s Best for Community Champion” award at Tech’s Up with the White and Gold Ceremony. From volunteering at pop-up vaccine clinics, to helping on a Covid-19 helpline, to making masks for local charitable clinics and homeless shelters, service has been a vital part of Chanda’s Georgia Tech experience.
Here are Chanda’s recommendations for “How to Pre-Health” at Georgia Tech:
Q: What is your degree, year, and hometown?
Q: What activities are you involved with on campus?
A: On campus, I am involved in several student organizations, research and mentoring. I currently serve as the president of SHC, executive vice president of American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and vice president of Support, Health, and Education (S.H.E) for Women.
SHC is an organization focused on promoting volunteerism and healthcare awareness among Georgia Tech students. Our goal is to provide students interested in leadership and volunteerism with the opportunities and resources to make an impact in our community!
AMSA is an organization with the mission of supporting, informing, and inspiring future physicians to make healthcare a better place. Our goal is to provide support for the academic aspects of being a pre-health student through our workshops and initiatives.
Last, but not least, S.H.E for Women is a newly chartered organization with the mission of spreading awareness to women’s health issues, especially in the realm of homelessness. Our goal is to provide support to larger Atlanta-based organizations with similar missions by advocating for them, informing our Georgia Tech students of these issues, and hosting service projects to help alleviate said issues.
My role in each of organizations involves coordinating the operations of the organizations and most importantly supporting all members in their future endeavors. My goal is to be a resource for others and to share my experiences. As a teaching leader for a Neuroscience GT 1000 course, I have the opportunity to continue this goal as a mentor for first-year students! I also serve as an undergraduate research assistant in professor Eric Schumacher’s Cognitive Neuroscience at Tech Research Lab (CoNTRoL). I am currently completing the research option on my own project investigating whether attentional brain networks, which are neural pathways in the brain modulating attention, can predict learning in an online environment using fMRI techniques!
Off campus, I am involved in several different activities as well. I serve as a medical intern at the Good Samaritan Health Center, or Good Sam, which is a charitable clinic just five minutes away from Georgia Tech. Through this position, I support the hard-working medical staff, while also practicing skills essential for future healthcare providers, such as making patients feel safe and comfortable, managing the demands of healthcare, and being adaptable and flexible. Throughout my four years at Tech, this experience has been the most eye-opening and impactful to me. Before Good Sam, I was blind to many of the issues related to healthcare, such as the effects of healthcare disparities, the lack of healthcare accessibility and more.
This experience inspired me to also be an advocate for more accessible and equitable healthcare and motivated me to use my resources to help spread awareness and educate other Georgia Tech students through AMSA’s Urban Clinic of Atlanta (UCA) team and Student Hospital Connection’s Outreach team. With Good Sam, I also serve as a clinical caller and shift coordinator on their Covid-19 helpline and a volunteer for their Covid-19 and flu pop-up vaccine sites! I also work as a medical scribe for Comprehensive Women’s Care of Columbus (CWCC), a private OBGYN practice in my hometown dedicated to providing accessible and women-focused healthcare. During my free time, I do some dancing here and there!
Q: When did you know you wanted a career in pre-health?
A: When I was about eight years old, my uncle came to live with us while studying for the United States Medical License Exam, which is a three-step examination program to receive your medical license. During this time, my uncle was also responsible for watching me while my parents worked. He would encourage me to study with him by giving me case studies to memorize. I was responsible for learning the patient’s symptoms and history, and then presenting the case to him so he could “diagnose” me. That was the summer I realized I wanted to pursue medicine because connecting with and being able to help others has always been something I have been passionate about! As I grew older, I began seeing the positive and life-changing impact physicians had on individuals, families and groups of people, and my Georgia Tech experience inspired me to use my education to help underserved and uninsured populations receive quality healthcare.
Q: Why did you choose to pursue pre-health at Georgia Tech?
A: When I was a prospective student, I came to tour Georgia Tech. Prior to the tour, I was quite hesitant in coming to Tech for pre-health, but very quickly I realized that Georgia Tech was located in a vibrant community full of opportunities just steps away from campus! Additionally, I am someone who strives to challenge myself and try new things. I value personal growth and I knew Georgia Tech would help facilitate that for me. I am really thankful for choosing to come here for my undergraduate experience.
Q: What resources at Georgia Tech have prepared you for a pre-health career?
A: Student organizations and the Pre-Health Advising Office have been really impactful in preparing me for my pre-health career. Through student organizations, I found an open and welcoming community, as well as support from my upperclassmen peers. As a current upperclassman participating in student organizations, I am grateful to be able to provide support those still learning about the path! The Pre-Health Advising Office has been crucial in supporting me academically as I pursue this path. They have many programs to help assist through the process and are always available during their drop-in hours to talk. Talking about your career can be really stressful and make you feel vulnerable, but the Office does a great job with building relationships with students, so you have a safe place to go to for career-related discussions.
Q: What have some of your favorite classes at Georgia Tech been and why?
A: One of my favorite classes to participate in was Vertical Integrated Projects (VIP). During my first and second year at Tech, I joined a VIP regarding Health Informatics on FHIR, or Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources. This project was heavily industrial engineering-based, but very interesting! I appreciated learning about how other fields, especially engineering, could improve healthcare.
As a leadership studies minor, I am required to delve a little bit into management and business, which led me to taking MGT 3662, Management in the Healthcare Sector. This course was extremely eye-opening as it exposed me to many conflicts in healthcare and delved into how business and technology make an impact on the patient experience. I would highly recommend this course to pre-health students! I am currently taking the practicum portion of this course and working closely with the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to help resolve an issue they are currently facing using the skills I have learned in MGT 3662 and my experience working in and learning more the healthcare field.
I also really enjoyed taking physics for life sciences and organic chemistry, as these courses challenged me the most! In the end, despite the challenge, I realized how much they helped me improve my critical thinking skills. Additionally, it was great seeing how they could be applied in medicine and pharmaceuticals to improve healthcare.
Q: What professors, advisors, or older students have helped you prepare for your career?
A: During my first semester at Georgia Tech, my GT 1000 and PSYC 1101 professor Mary Holder played a huge role in helping me adapt to college life. With her support, I learned the necessary time management and study skills needed to succeed at Georgia Tech. This also gave me the opportunity to try out other interests of mine inspired by Tech, such as industrial engineering through a VIP program and my leadership studies minor! I am really thankful for the support of my family, friends, and academic and career advisors!