This edition of our alumni spotlight shines a bright light on Dr. Meghan Pillai. Hailing from the eastern end of Long Island (the North Fork), Pillai has spent plenty of time in the northeast. She attended Boston University, earning a B.S. in Business Management. With a knack for numbers, Meghan wasn't done adding to her higher-level education. She went on to Harvard University, earning a master's in Business Administration. Pillai's innate drive to know more, coupled with her desire to help others, eventually led her to pursue a medical career. Attending both undergraduate and graduate school in the northeast, attending a Caribbean medical offered more than just a beautiful backdrop to study medicine. Dr. Pillai is now in her 3rd year of residency, close to home, in New Jersey.What's your academic background?
I went to Boston University, got a B.S. in Business Management, and then went to Harvard University to do a master's in Business Administration. Then I went back to school to do a post-baccalaureate in pre-medicine, and onto medicine at Trinity!
What brought you into medicine?
The drive to know more, and to be as helpful as possible.
Where did you match?
Morristown Medical Center, New Jersey
Why did you choose Trinity and what ultimately helped you make the decision?
The small classes, sense of community, and the 84 F degree weather are a few of the main reasons for my choice. I attended large universities for my undergraduate and graduate degrees and there was this intense competitiveness when I was there. So, when I transitioned to Trinity, it was kind of shocking for me that there were these really small class sizes. I found this extremely beneficial, because I wasn't (just) a number, I wasn't a statistic, there was no classic cliche of; look to your left, look to your right, these people won't be here next to you (in the future), the attrition rate is much lower in smaller classroom size studying. I knew that was something I needed to be successful in medicine.
Did you feel supported throughout your education at Trinity?
Absolutely, not only do you have an assigned guidance counselor or mentor when you're with Trinity, there's also peer tutoring if you are starting to slip a little bit in your classes. Trinity has this set up for you regardless, however, all of the staff, all of the faculty, they know who you are, they know how you're doing. They know your strengths and your weaknesses when you go through something as rigorous, such as medical school. It's definitely a plus being at a smaller institution because of this kind of support. Not only do you have the support from your faculty or staff, you also have it from the students. Your co-students aren't there to have a leg up on you; everybody's there in the same boat, and you're all there for the same goal and basically you have this large pool of people around you, kind of pushing you in the same direction.
What are the clerkships (rotations) like at Trinity?
When you start your clinical rotations, you're back with the same group of people you've been with through the first and second year, basically (the people you were with) in your basic sciences. When I was in Baltimore, I went from rotation to rotation, it's pretty much seamless. Trinity sets up the core rotations, that are back-to-back so you're hopping from a six-week rotation to the next, six-week rotation, to the next six-weeks, so there's no gap. That keeps you on your timeline and staying on track, and knowing your schedule and gearing up for match, that gave me a good piece of mind, also a very large advantage to this is that your are not hopping around, you're not having to pick up and relocate and find an apartment or Airbnb, or rental cars, or anything like that. You are stationary for one full year and then you can choose to be in the same location, either Baltimore or there are other locations with Trinity where they set up satellite programs. It's a huge plus and a huge mental relief that you don't have to coordinate every six weeks or every 10 to 12 weeks.
Hear more from Dr. Pillai in the video interview below.
What was the transition like from where you moved from, compared to living on the island and studying abroad?
The transition wasn't too difficult as I was aware of traveling and living some time out of the country. However, the long-distance for over 1.5 years was a little tough on the soul, knowing I missed births, weddings, etc. However, the biggest drive to being comfortable living on the island, and studying, was knowing I was getting an opportunity to become a physician.
Do you have any stand-out memories, stories, experiences regarding your time at Trinity?
My favorite time there was one weekend we (30 of us) went sailing to another island. We had a blast hanging out, forgetting the exam we just took, bonded, and had a really fun time—definitely a trip of a lifetime.
Best advice you'd share with a prospective Trinity student?
Never, never, stop. Just keep going!
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