NEWARK, NJ - When he started Carnegie Mellon University, Amol Shah had no intention of becoming a medical doctor.
Though both his mother and father were physicians practicing in Newark, Shah decided to study chemical and biomedical engineering with the goal of working on developing the next generation of medical devices.
After winter break, during his sophomore year, his roommate returned from India with flu-like symptoms, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Soon after, he became jaundiced. His roommate was diagnosed with acute viral hepatitis E, which took a fulminant course.
With his roommate’s family initially in India, Shah became very much involved in the care of his friend, and was the point person that the doctors would talk to. Out of concern, he began reading more about the disease and it sparked an interest in him that he did not know existed.
“It was at that point that I realized I wanted to go into medicine,” Shah said. “I tried to deviate from the path of my parents, but I found myself right back there. I decided to be more involved in patient care than working behind the scenes on medical devices.”
Shah, who graduated from the St. Georges University School of Medicine, is the chief resident at Saint Michael’s Medical Center, a teaching hospital affiliated with New York Medical College. The hospital offers residencies in anesthesia, internal medicine and podiatry, as well as fellowships in cardiology, interventional cardiology, gastroenterology, oncology, infectious disease, pulmonary and critical care.
Born at Clara Maass Hospital in Belleville, Shah grew up in Livingston. He attended public school before attending Newark Academy.
His father, Dr. Rajan Shah, was born in India and his mother, Dr. Sandhya Shah, who is also Indian, grew up in Kenya. Together, they have a thriving practice on Broad Street in Newark. His mom is an internist and his dad is a gastroenterologist who has admitting privileges to Saint Michael’s.
“I feel really grateful that I get to be close to my family,” Shah said.
As chief resident, Shah remembers many of the patients who used to come into his parent’s office when worked there as a teenager.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to give back to the community that I knew so well growing up,” Shah said.
Shah said serving as chief resident gives him experience he would not have had if he went straight into a fellowship after his three-year residency at Saint Michael’s.
In addition to gaining leadership skills as an administrator, Shah said he also has an opportunity to engage in clinical research. He is working on a project with a gastroenterology fellow comparing patients who have coronary artery disease and with those with a fatty liver to determine if there is a correlation.
When his year as chief resident is up in June, Shah said he hopes to land a fellowship in gastroenterology.
He’s open to the possibility of joining his parents’ practice when he finishes his medical training.
“It’s up in the air right now. It depends on where life takes me,” Shah said. “But if I’m in the area, I would absolutely like to work with them.”