Eight Lessons from an MD-PhD Candidate at UNR Med

February 12, 2024

Majid Khan

Meet newly minted Dr. Majid Khan, PhD., a native of Reno, and current MD-PhD candidate and first-generation medical student at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, who is on his way to a career as a Neurosurgery. While most graduate students often choose between pursuing a medical degree (MD) or a doctorate in philosophy (PhD), Majid has boldly picked both. He is one of three medical students currently in the UNR Med MD-PhD Program run by Dr. Caroline Cobine, PhD and Dr. Violeta Mutafova-Yambolieva, MD, PhD.

"Research is not merely an act of sitting at a computer and reading papers – it's about answering the thought-provoking questions about things we come across on a daily basis. By critically evaluating these ideas we can implement solutions to enhance various aspects of the medical field and patient care with an overall goal of improving patient outcomes," Majid said.

Majid recognizes that modern research extends beyond academia and holds significant value for hospitals. “Research contributes to improving patient outcomes. By reviewing the data from peer-reviewed research studies, medical professionals can be better prepared to deliver effective care following the most up-to-date guidelines and data,” he said.

Majid's journey to pursuing his MD-PhD with a goal of becoming a physician-scientist-surgeon began following a summer in the PathMaker Cancer Research Program at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah. "It was by fate that I stumbled into this field – ever since I saw my first brain surgery, I haven’t been able to look back," Majid said.

Here are some of the valuable lessons that Majid has learned along the way.

1. Beyond the 9 to 5, Embrace both 5 to 9s

To avoid burnout and nurture personal passions, make your time spent outside of work and school intentional. Harness any free time to reconnect with friends, pursue hobbies and engage with mentors and mentees.

2. Collaboration is Key

Work collectively with colleagues locally, nationwide and even worldwide. Cultivate environments to share knowledge and innovation, as well as wisdom, which will evidently lead to more impactful outcomes.

3. Shine a Spotlight on Your Colleagues

Acknowledge and celebrate your colleagues in group settings when you notice something outstanding that they’ve said or done – it could anything big or small. Shining the spotlight onto those who are making positive changes within the hospital can inspire a beautiful culture of academic healthcare, which ultimately improves patient outcomes.

4. Redefine Mentorship

Mentorship does not need to be confined to traditional frameworks. Seek out guidance in unexpected and untraditional places; sometimes, the most enlightening lessons and opportunities emerge from the most unlikely sources.

5. Diversify Your Experiences

Embracing a diverse range of experiences enriches one's medical acumen. You never know when a seemingly unrelated job or experience will help in a scenario in your career.

6. Live By the Mamba Mentality

Follow the late Kobe Bryant’s approach to life and work, the Mamba Mentality. This includes planning long-term goals, placing meaning in everything, striving for constant personal growth, following your passions and focusing on the process rather than the end goal.

7. Make Time for Your Loved Ones

Don’t forget who helped you get to where you are in your life, specifically your family, friends, teachers and mentors. By making time for the most important and loving people in your life, you will be surrounded by positivity which will help propel you to new heights.

8. Plan your Next Five Moves

We all have the ability to come from nothing and become something. Take the time to plan out everything and execute your moves with careful precision.

Majid has plans to return to the Biggest Little City after completing Neurological Surgery Residency Program. If you would like to get in touch with Majid, please reach out to him via email at majidk@med.unr.edu.

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