VP&S Class of 2019: Naralys Batista
Naralys Batista grew up in the Washington Heights neighborhood near the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) and, though she never visited Columbia's medical campus during her childhood, she was drawn to VP&S for the prospect of providing health care to her community.
The students she met during her interview day solidified her decision. “I was surprised to see that medical students, the nerdiest nerds, could be warm, welcoming, and engaging,” Batista recalls. “Despite the high workload, students clearly liked each other and were collaborative. When deciding where I would learn best, I knew that my resiliency depended on my immediate community, and Columbia was the perfect place.”
Her instinct proved right. “Medical school was filled with highlights of all kinds,” she says. “There was the time I got a blood draw on the first try, the first time I made the right diagnosis, the first time I saw a patient wake up after a heart transplant. Each time I was surrounded by classmates who celebrated those joys with me.”
Batista says her most important experiences in medical school have been the times she’s watched physicians have earnest conversations with their patients. “I’ve seen how illness strikes fear in individuals and families,” she says, “and I’m always humbled by the resilience of people, even at the end of life.”
It was those kinds of interactions that inspired her interest in medicine while she shadowed a Bronx-based ophthalmologist during college. She observed how he related to his patients in a most compassionate way and knew she wanted to help people face their fears and arm them with tools to invigorate health.
During medical school, Batista served as president of the Black and Latino Student Organization, which is dedicated to creating a community for medical students underrepresented in medicine and a network with faculty at Columbia’s medical center.
“It was through dinners, informal mentorship, and the efforts of the VP&S Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs that I had engaging conversations about medicine, structural inequalities in the United States, and the wonderful impact cultural organizations dedicated to equity can have on learning,” says Batista.
Throughout medical school, Batista also sang with a jazz band made up of fellow students. “Only at VP&S can one run from clinic to jazz band practice,” she says. “I can now draw on that experience in times of anxiety to remember to not sweat the small stuff.”
“Anesthesiology feeds my interests in physiology, surgery, and in learning through apprenticeship,” says Batista. “I'm looking forward to my new role as an intern on the medical team. It will be hectic, but I'm excited for the inflection point when the medical knowledge starts to come more naturally.”
As for VP&S students beginning their medical school journey, Batista advises, “Take your time! There's no rush. Medicine is for life and you've only gotten started.”