Applying to Residency: Interview with Ronak Mistry, DO, on Fellowship. Despite the year that 2020 was, we are proud to say that this year’s Medicine Specialty Matching Program (MSMP) was the largest in history. Over 5,200 DO, MD, and IMG applicants matched to Medicine subspecialty fellowships.
Despite the year that 2020 was, we are proud to say that this year’s Medicine Specialty Matching Program (MSMP) was the largest in history. Over 5,200 DO, MD, and IMG applicants matched to Medicine subspecialty fellowships.
One subspecialty where DO matches really increased was Hematology-Oncology (64 DO matches!). We were lucky to be able to sit down and chat with our Resident Ambassador, Ronak Mistry, DO, who matched in Hematology and Oncology at Vanderbilt University.
What made you decide you wanted to do a fellowship?
I must say that I did wrestle with this question a bit during residency. I love Internal Medicine. I love the patient population, the variety in cases, the opportunity to build differential diagnoses, and testing these. However, I realized that any fellowship after an Internal Medicine residency would ensure that I could not only continue to do all of these things, but also be very skilled in one particular area. My genuine interest in hematology and oncology ultimately convinced me that a fellowship was the right way to go.
How did your osteopathic curriculum influence your interest in pursuing a fellowship and help you prepare for success?
My osteopathic curriculum at RowanSOM taught me to be an excellent clinician with great bedside manner and clinical reasoning skills. We were taught to always take the time to listen to our patients and ensure that they were part of the decision making for their treatment plan every step of the way. Being a DO helped me to be a great internist, which is the root of all sub-specialties within Internal Medicine.
As a DO, what advice would you give to those coming after you who are also thinking about applying for a fellowship?
The best advice I have is to keep an open mind when you start residency and to learn your field. Anchoring on a specialty too early will deter you from learning. The other thing to consider is that fellowship means more years of training, which means that there are financial implications and life implications. So it's important to ask yourself if this really is the best thing for you. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to pursue fellowship at all! But if you decide that you want to go ahead and focus on a sub-specialty, it is important to start to find a mentor or mentors in the field who can give you guidance, suggest research opportunities, and connect you with others.
Regarding research, please note that it is not a one-size-fits-all. Some fields value research more than others, and quantity is not always more important than quality. The types of projects and publications you need to be competitive in each field is different and that is where a strong mentor will be most helpful.
Lastly, when it comes time to apply, spend some time and consider what your priorities are. There are many factors that may be important to you, and can really affect the types of programs you will need to apply to help you be successful in your future career.
What made you choose hematology-oncology?
From a basic science perspective, I have been interested in hematology/oncology for quite some time. I majored in biochemistry and cell and molecular biology in college and so we frequently looked to cancers as a real-life illustration of what happens when the cell's intrinsic system of checks and balances goes awry. Through shadowing experiences and rotations throughout medical school and residency, respectively, I saw myself doing this every day. I witnessed the deep appreciation and trust patients have for their hematologists and oncologists. I wanted to the person to have the privilege of gaining that trust and ensuring that I was there for them on their best days and their worst days.
What aspects of being an osteopathic physician do you think will be a benefit to your Hematology-Oncology patients?
Central to Osteopathic Medicine is the tenet that each person is a unit of mind, body, and spirit. Dean Cavalieri at RowanSOM, where I went to osteopathic medical school, reminded us of this quite frequently. I have worked hard throughout my training as a student and a resident to be the best clinician, researcher, teacher, leader, and educator that I can be and I am very proud of that. I believe that these traits, my determination, and my holistic approach to medicine really came through when I interviewed—places that include some of the most elite and prestigious programs in the country. As a future hematologist/oncologist, I will continue to ensure that I find ways to connect with all of my patients on multiple levels using my osteopathic training to ensure that they feel heard, informed, and respected.
How excited are you about your match to Vanderbilt?
I am absolutely elated to have matched for my Hematology/Oncology fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Despite it being an atypical year for interview season—seeing that all of my interviews were virtual—I felt a sense of community amongst all of the faculty and the fellows just from observing their interactions and the way they spoke of each other. Furthermore, I was searching for a program with a strong commitment to teaching its fellows, a faculty who have varieties of research interests, and opportunities to grow as an educator. I saw all of this and more in the program and cannot wait to begin my fellowship.
That being said, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the support of my parents, my siblings, my fiancée, my incredible family, and friends who have supported me each and every day. Along the way, I have been incredibly fortunate to have had the most phenomenal teachers and mentors throughout my time in elementary school, high school, at Drew University, at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and at Pennsylvania Hospital, who have always inspired me and motivated me to keep pushing the bar higher and making me the best clinician that I can be. I am also thankful to NBOME for giving me the chance to be a Resident (and future Fellow) Ambassador. I look forward to taking you all on my fellowship journey with me!