Get to Know: Rupesh Raina

Rupesh Raina, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine, has been a clinical faculty member at NEOMED for seven years, and became M4 director in October 2021. He also practices adult and pediatric nephrology at Akron General Hospital, Summa Health and Akron Children’s Hospital, and conducts research on acute kidney injury and outcomes. He recently sat down with The Pulse to discuss his role and life in Northeast Ohio.

What is your role at NEOMED?

Basically my role is to help fourth-year students with education curriculum, clinical rotations, mentoring for residency and planning for their careers. M4 is a very important year where they're applying for the residencies and going into the specialty that they prefer. I mentor them and try to make sure that clinical experiences match with their requirements. My main role is counseling, mainly for the super specialties, and networking.

We are opening up a lot of electives outside the institution, with non-affiliates, to meet the needs of the people who are going into the super specialties like orthopedics, neurology, plastic surgery. Those are very competitive residency groups.

We are also fostering a lot of research opportunities for students who want to go and do research, and make sure they have access to electives in their specialty so that they can do networking and have a setup for an academic route.

You joined NEOMED full-time in the midst of the pandemic. Was it difficult to manage the director position remotely?

I was in-person. I needed to show that I'm here. But yes, at that time students had been remote so it was a big challenge going from remote to in-person. Now the interviews are not on Zoom, they are now in person. And so M4 has definitely changed as COVID is kind of coming down.

By the time I came in, M4s were already interviewing for residency matches. This year I learned from that, from the roadblocks last year. I'm very confident the match will go very well. Students are very, very up to the mark.

Why did you choose this profession? What led you to medical education in addition to your clinical work?

I love my students. They are so humble, the epitome of professionalism. They have a lot of gratitude and they cherish the mentorship. It's very rewarding to work with them and see them going into a specialty.

Preparing them to be physicians -- that's the most gratifying thing. I'm only here for the students.

NEOMED students are unique. They just they have something in them that you really want to work with them. They're very humble, and yet very smart and very well achieved.

I think they have a commitment to the area. We retain a lot of students here [locally] in residency. So you get the feeling of a community, which is different from other big universities.

What made you choose to be a physician?

I'm the only physician in my family. I come from an Army background and my mom was in ancient history. I think medicine was a passion when I was in ninth grade or so.

I was very committed that I would do nephrology and kidney transplant. But I just did it because I want to serve. You feel that you have done something, that you can help somebody. That satisfaction you won’t get in any other job.

Where did you go to school?

I did my high school and part of my medical school in India, in the King George Medical College, which is mainly a UK-funded college. I did my residency in Case Western. I did a fellowship in nephrology and transplant at the Cleveland Clinic and pediatric nephrology at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.

So where are you living now?

I live in Brecksville. My wife, Dr. Geetu Pahlajani, works at MetroHealth, so that is the halfway point. She’s also a physician and a director at the Family Health Center in Metro.

I have two kids. My son's name is Manan Raina; now he is in Hawken. He's going to be a sophomore now. And I have a daughter who is going to be in eighth grade. Her name is Manya.

And I have a very sweet pet. Her name is Hershey, so she's our third family member. She's a two-year-old mini goldendoodle.

What do you do to relax?

I do a lot of meditations, yoga and play tennis if I can, if I have a time and we really go for a lot of family walks. We have very good Brecksville trails.

And playing with Hershey.

What's the last book you read?

Oh, I read a lot of books from Dale Carnegie. I like is How to Stop Worrying and Start Living and The Art of Public Speaking by him. My favorite one is one which I go back to and read again: Lifetime Plan for Success. It was saved on my cell phone. His books are really, really good. My dad used to read these.

Do have a favorite vacation spot.

Recently we were in Barcelona, but my favorite place is Venice, Italy. We've been there twice.

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