EDISON — Pranali Soni of Edison, a sophomore at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School in North Edison, was one of 107 students from across the nation selected to attend the LeadAmerica Medicine & Healthcare program at Columbia University in New York from July 31 to Aug. 9. Soni has chosen dermatology as her future career. Her father is originally an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) surgeon from India as well as a pharmacist in the United States. Her mother is a pharmacy technician.
Throughout the LeadAmerica program, Soni attended two to three lectures each day from experts such as orthopedic surgeons and nurses. She did head-to-toe assessments of patients’ pulses and reflexes. She also participated in a gross anatomy lab during which she held a human heart, lungs, eyeballs, brains and more. She also performed standardized patient assessments by evaluating the symptoms and concerns of patients. Working one on one with doctors, she was able to help determine and reach diagnosis. Soni and her peers also assessed an epidemiological case – the cause of food poisoning at a school.
“Since LeadAmerica, I’ve discovered that I want to do even more to understand the medical field,” said Soni. “I have a better appreciation for how doctors overcome challenges. One of the guest lecturers, who reminded me of my father, taught us that he isn’t a member of his profession for the money, but because he wants to help people. And, I feel the same way.”
Last winter in India, Soni worked two hours each morning with ENT surgeons at the Niyati ENT Hospital in Ellis Bridge, Ahmedabad, helping very young to elderly patient from low income neighborhoods. These patients, she noted, suffered from more severe maladies than those she witnessed at Columbia during the LeadAmerica program.
Pranali, who also underwent EMT training, including a CPR course and tour of an ambulance, has accumulated several hours volunteering at JFK Medical Center in Edison, where she delivers flowers and medication to patients, and often utilizes her Spanish-speaking skills to communicate with and comfort them. As a volunteer at Bright Beginnings Preschool & Summer Fun Day Camp at the JCC of Middlesex County in Edison, Pranali enjoys playing with children ages 3 to 6. She has also volunteered over 80 hours during food drives, health fairs, and “Communities in Schools Events” for the United Passaic Organization: A Community Action Agency.
DOCTOR IN TRAINING…Pranali Soni of Edison is pictured during EMT training during the LeadAmerica program on the campus of Columbia University. Photo courtesy of the Wardlaw-Hartridge School
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