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Highlighting the Heroes: Lenox Hill Hospital Chief Resident Up for $25K Award

Our H.E.R.O. Award -Honoring Excellent Resident Observations – was launched to highlight the personal sacrifices and educational commitment during a medical resident’s professional adult life.  We realize, considering the fast moving changes in healthcare,  how courageous medical residents are to embark upon a career in medicine with such an uncertain future.  This award is our way of recognizing that courage.

We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our nominees individually:

Residency Award

Niket Sonpal

Lenox Hill Hospital/New York City – Hauppauge, NY
Dr. Sonpal is currently the Chief Resident at Lenox Hill Hospital which is a part of North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System. In the next academic year he will begin a fellowship in gastroenterology. He graduated from the Medical University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. His medical training is a unique program that provides basic science curriculum abroad and clinical rotations here in the United States. Dr. Sonpal’s major focus in life is medical education and that stems from his time as a teaching assistant in anatomy class while in his second year. He said,
“I remember how difficult memorizing this vast amount of information was, and kept thinking there had to be a better way.”
The experience was crystallized when he learned that many students did not pass their exams, and ultimately failed out of school in MS1 year.
“I knew medicine could be fun, and no one should fail and get left behind.”
During that time, Dr. Sonpal began a tutoring program for first year students in Anatomy and Biochemistry. It quickly grew into a problem-based peer-to-peer learning system in which the first year students began to excel in these subjects and in fact many went on to get honors. Dr. Sonpal chose gastroenterology – because he feels strongly about preventing colorectal cancer but also plans to practice internal medicine as well. He believes
”no one should die from a disease that can be 100% prevented.”
As a first year resident he told me of a story in which he was given the task of delivering the diagnosis of metastatic colon cancer to a 60 year old father of 3.
Having to deliver such devastating news about something our society and medical institutions could have prevented made me sick…more awareness of preventative medicine and patient education is needed.
Therefore I believe that experience was a pinnacle moment in which he wanted to do all he can to prevent colorectal cancer. For Dr. Sonpal, his motivations to develop a career in medicine are vast; he loves science, working with people, and genuinely enjoys the act of being involved in helping people feel better. But his greatest motivation stems from his desire to expand medical education in the United States. He is passionate about expanding graduate medical education due to the vast shortage of 45,000 physicians in America by 2020. This drives him to want to expand his educational efforts on a national platform and pushes him to participate with American College of Physicians and New York County Medical Society. He views his career in medicine as a pyramid, where
“I can help my patients daily but what am I doing for the other 275 million Americans who need aid.”
All students make sacrifices to become physicians and Dr. Sonpal has also made a similar sacrifice. During his eight years of college and medical school, because of the constraints, a double major and medical school places Dr. Sonpal was unable to see the vast majority of his family who currently reside in India. The silver lining is that his grandmother has had to learn about the internet and became an avid user of Skype. Dr Sonpal communicates with her regularly as she is his “little buddy” via this technology. Vote for Niket here. If you know a resident that deserves to be recognized, please nominate your candidate here.