UB medical student’s hands-on work with patients in Panama helps him find his balance
A quarter of University at Buffalo medical students participate in global health activities outside the U.S. When Amandip (Aman) Cheema—a third-year medical student in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a Bhayana Family Scholarship recipient—had the chance to travel to Panama during his first-year spring break, he jumped at it.
During the trip, Cheema and his classmates partnered with Floating Doctors, a volunteer organization headquartered in Panama that offers health care and medical supplies to isolated regions. The students traveled by boat to several rural coastal communities to provide primary care to patients in the makeshift clinics they established at each site.
“While we were there, we learned how to put our knowledge from the classroom into use helping people,” he says. “It was incredibly rewarding and eye-opening to see how different people’s access to health care is, not only here in Buffalo, but around the world, and how important proximity is. I think sometimes we take that for granted.”
Cheema also helped organize Unconditionally Buffalo, an annual fundraiser for the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, which resulted in a donation of more than $20,000. In his second year, he served as co-president for a neurosurgery interest group that connects first- and second-year medical students with neurosurgery physicians to raise awareness of the specialty.
"The act of getting a scholarship teaches you to help others,” he says. “Someone I didn’t know gave me this money and it taught me to pay it forward. In the grand scheme of things, that’s what I’m here for. That’s why I chose medicine—to help others.”
Cheema credits his attitude of giving back to his donor's gift.
“Balance is really important to me, and UB has been supportive of that,” he says. “Not only did receiving my scholarship help me decide to travel to Panama, it enabled me to take care of myself, stress less and focus on my studies instead of the financial side.”