Chetna Prasad '15 studied chemistry and classics at Union College before earning an M.B.A. in healthcare management from Union Graduate College and an M.D. from Albany Medical College. Now a medical resident in anesthesiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the pandemic has meant she is also working on inpatient COVID teams to care for patients who have tested positive for the virus or are awaiting results. She feels fortunate to be surrounded by an incredibly supportive work family. During her time at Union and in medical school, Chetna was a hospice volunteer at the Joan Nicole Prince (JNP) Home in Scotia. She was also a member of the Honor Council, student representative of her Minerva House, an aerogel lab member and part of AUM (Hindu Student Association). She fell in love with palliative care at JNP and she hopes to incorporate that into her clinical practice as a future anesthesiologist. Outside of work, Chetna enjoys live music, spending time with friends and family, travelling and being active outside – whether it is hiking, biking, skiing or laying on the beach.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your career or volunteer activities?
Without a doubt, my patients. In medicine you meet people at their most vulnerable and difficult moments. It is a privilege to help and be with others during those times. I have met the most amazing people in my job – patients who have taught me so much about the power of hope, the human spirit, a listening ear, a smile, and humor in the most trying of times. I find it challenging sometimes to balance this human part of medicine with the long hours, high volume, administrative burden and inefficiencies of our healthcare system. There are some days I have left work feeling overwhelmed, wondering where the time went and what I actually did for others. It can be hard on those days to feel like you are making a difference. Then you have those pauses in the business of the day where you have special moments with patients or witness inspiring work of your colleagues, and you remember why you chose this profession.
Who inspired/inspires you, both professionally and personally?
My parents are both personal heroes and professional mentors. They are both physicians who emigrated to the U.S. from India and worked extremely hard to obtain U.S. medical residencies and build a better life here for my siblings and I. My dad taught me to believe in myself and my mom taught me how to greet life’s surprises with a smile. They inspire me every day and they are my #1 fans.
What advice would you offer today’s women students, not just at Union, but across the country?
You are the own determinant of your worth. No one else (society, family, friends, work colleagues, relationships, past experiences) should dictate what you are capable of. That is for you to decide and for you to achieve. I’ve found this to be true in many aspects of life and it is self-empowering.
What was your most formative experience at Union?
This is a hard question because I do truly feel Union as a whole was a transformative experience. My lifelong friends inspire me to be the best version of myself every day; my professors challenged me both personally and academically to get outside of my comfort zone; and I developed several leadership skills with my on-campus involvement. A life-changing experience for me was studying abroad in Greece for four months as a classics major. I would not have been able to do this without the Leadership in Medicine program, as it afforded me time to pursue my other passions outside of my intended career. I am incredibly thankful for this.