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Tutor Spotlight: Paras Shah

This week we’d like to give a shout out to one of our most warm and encouraging tutors, Paras Shah.

He’s not only adept at tutoring the USMLEs, but he always raises the bar by going above and beyond in his work with his students.

His genuine care and concern come through all that he does, and we can only hope that his patients appreciate his sincerity and candor as much as his students and peers do here at MST.

Without further ado, meet Paras.

Where did you go to medical school?

Albany Medical College New York.

Where are you doing your residency and in what specialty?

Northshore-LIJ Hofstra School of Medicine. Urology.

What are your career plans after residency?

Urologic Oncology with a particular emphasis on surgical management of kidney and bladder cancer.

Do you do any research? Any publications?

Most of my research involves clinical outcomes associated with surgery after kidney cancer. Recently, I’ve been studying the impact of temporary clamping of the renal artery and vein during partial nephrectomy on long-term renal function. The premise of this study is that ischemia-reperfusion injury that results from vessel occlusion (done to avoid excess bleeding and improve real-time visualization while excising the tumor) is reversible and therefore not as bad as once thought. I plan to shift my focus to more basic science projects during my upcoming research year. Specifically, I’m interested in the role of a particular prostatic protein, TMPRS22, on promoting metastasis of prostate cancer.

What brought you to Med School Tutors? Why did you choose to be a tutor?

I had matched Urology in January and was SUPER excited. But as I dedicated more-and-more of myself to learning Urology, it hit me that I would soon become so far removed from the physiology and pathology that I had learned during the first 2-years of medical school learned and see play-out in patients during my 3rd-year. Everything was finally making sense and I was going to have to in a sense “give-up” on the subject material. Med School Tutors has offered me the opportunity to stay abreast with subject-material I really had come to enjoy during medical school. Nothing did come easy to me. I struggled a lot with physiology and making the link between how our body works and how it breaks down. But I toughed through it and borne out of my persistence is what I feel to be a profound understanding of the mechanisms by which normal physiology goes awry and disease develops. And once you develop that understanding, you really appreciate how beautiful and inspiring the human body is. As a tutor, I try to show students who struggle with content that “doing better” is possible – I’m a real life example. I think that’s key to getting results – not only telling them why the answer is right etc but helping them believe in themselves and rebuilding that confidence which many of them have lost.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students who are beginning their residencies?

Learn to not let frustration get the best of you. Medical school is tough, but you’re doing what you’ve been doing your whole life – studying, eating, sleeping, going to class, repeating. Residency WILL hit you like a freight-train – at least my surgery residency did. In my case, they took someone who was proficient in the classroom setting and good at cerebral tasks and put them in the operating room, expected them to be good with their hands and excel with technical things. I was neither athletic nor very handy, so it was a complete irony to have a dork like me operating. The initial days were rough because I struggled with not being good at something. Practicing how to throw knots and properly hold a needle-driver consumed me. Early on, I would come home from work really upset because I just wasn’t getting it. This took a toll on my personal life and even my clinical performance. But with the support of some of my seniors, I gradually learned that progress comes with time. I slowly but surely saw my skills improving and this was so encouraging. I learned to focus NOT on my inabilities, but on ways to get better at what whatever it was I WAS ABLE to do. So it almost was like I shifted my mentality from looking at the glass half empty to viewing it half-full. Frustration is a good-thing, it reflects your drive and commitment to wanting to get better. I’ve just learned to channel that frustration in a better way. And I encourage new residents to do just this. I needed my first year of residency to teach me this perspective. I’ve started to implement in all aspects of my life and it definitely has made me more calm and content. Not to mention make residency more enjoyable.

What is the most embarrassing story from your intern year?

You live life at a 100 miles/minute during residency. Thursday mornings are conference days requiring formal attire, after which we’re to rush back to the hospital and scrub into OR cases. That window between conferences ending and OR cases starting is very small — especially because the conferences are held at a center outside of the hospital. It requires us to rush back, change into scrubs quickly, and head to the OR, all in a matter of 10 minutes. Usually I just change in the call room, but one-day, there was a female PA student rotating on service who was in the room, so I grabbed my scrubs and rushed to a nearby bathroom. Rather than enter a stall, I stood near the sinks and unbuttoned my shirt and dropped my slacks thinking this should take just a second. Two females walked in and we just looked at each other. Turns out I walked into the female restroom on the right side instead of entering the male restroom on the left. I was so embarrassed. My mind was numb and I was in such a rush that rather than pull my pants up, I frantically waddled out of the women’s restroom into the men’s restroom across the hall with the pants still at my ankles. And of course, who do I see when I enter the restroom with my pants dropped and buttons open? One of my attendings who had just finished rounding on patients on the floor. [facepalm]

What is your favorite thing to eat?

Pizza  especially Grandma slices. I once ate grandma slices for an entire week, lunch and dinner, with the occasional breakfast serving.

What is the most exciting place you have ever traveled?

The Australian Outback. I stayed on a Dude-ranch for several weeks and I have say, it was the MOST LIBERATING and AMAZING experience I’ve encountered to date. I participated in controlled burns of entire forests (to reduce risk of brush fires) and herded cattle. My blanket every night was a clear dark sky studded with a gazillion twinkling stars. My morning alarm was sunrise. It was the farthest I was from the chaos of real-life. No deadlines, no cell phones, no e-mails. I learned a lot about self-sufficiency, flexibility, and doing the best what you have. While I do not feel I would be able to sustain such a lifestyle on a more permanent basis (I’m too addicted to YouTube), it was nice to see that places exist in this world that are in touch with a more free and elemental form of living to which you can escape.

If you weren’t a doctor, what would you do?

A police officer for sure. Every time I see someone do something illegal while driving (talking on the phone, texting while driving, illegal U-turns, double-parking), it makes my blood boil! I ALWAYS wish at the moment I were a cop so I could ticket them and teach them a lesson. I know — cruel, but it’s just a pet-peeve.

What do you like to do outside of medicine?

I’m very blessed to have a supportive wife who puts up with a busy schedule and so wonderfully feigns an interest in boring hospital-talk when we get together with other resident-friends. I try to spend whatever free time I have with her. We like to visit different cities through Segway tours (best way to capture the highlights of a city instead of walking), eat spicy foods, and work out (it’s sad she can squat more than I can). Spending time with her offers the perfect escape.