Q: Tell us about yourself!
My name is Nikita Sanghavi, and I am a FACES Summer Medical Academy (FSMA) alumni! I participated in 2016, between my sophomore and junior years of high school. I graduated high school in June 2018 and am now a freshman at UC Davis.
Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in the healthcare field?
Being a healthcare professional means that you are there for people during some of the most vulnerable times in their life. I know it would be such an honor for me to help people during that time.
Many people see hospitals as depressing places, but I’ve always seen them as these incredible havens for healing. Through programs like FSMA and volunteering at a hospital, I’ve seen how patient-centered medicine can create a calm, healing environment. I want to be able to offer that kind of treatment to everyone in need.
Q: Congratulations on going to college! Where are you going and how are you feeling?
I’ll be starting at UC Davis this Fall pursuing a major in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior. I’m definitely nervous, and I’ll miss my family, but I’m also so excited about all the new opportunities available, such as interesting classes, more volunteering experiences, and meeting new people. Starting off, I’m participating in a massive Pre-Health Conference. Again, I’m ecstatic for everything college has to offer.
Q: You recently wrote a research paper on pediatric palliative care in the United States. Can you tell us what made you interested in writing on this specific topic?
Another impactful moment I had at FSMA was touring George Mark Children’s House (GMCH). GMCH is a pediatric palliative care facility. This means they provide care to children with life-limiting illnesses, who will not survive until adulthood. This care not only helps manage the child’s medical needs, but also the child’s and their family’s emotional, mental, and physical needs.
When I first walked into GMCH, an overwhelming sense of peace washed over me. It’s an odd feeling to have in such a center, but I’ve come to realize that peace is exactly what this house offers to patients and their families. GMCH gives these children a chance to enjoy their life, and it is truly a vibrant, happy place.
After FSMA, I began volunteering at GMCH, and I experienced firsthand the incredible work done at this center. More than that, I was shocked to discover that in most of these cases, insurance doesn’t cover palliative care. Moreover, there isn’t any legislation in the US to help provide this care. Knowing the important work GMCH does, I knew I wanted to write about the lack of pediatric palliative care in the US. People don’t want to talk about children dying, but this lack of conversation only hurts the families in this position. I wanted to help bring more attention to this issue.
Q: In your opinion, what is the importance of learning how to write research papers?
I had some difficulty when I first starting writing research papers because I’ve always been more interested in stories and emotional background than listing out facts. But, then I learned that one major cause for the lack of pediatric palliative care was the lack of research surrounding it. Research papers allow you to effectively convince others the importance of your issue, whether your audience is your teacher in high school or government officials. By presenting your findings in a professional, fact-based manner, you gain credibility and influence. Also, if you are writing about something you’re especially passionate about, it comes across clearly in your writing. Instead of a list of facts, your paper becomes a cohesive, strong, interesting argument.
Q: We have other FACES students and alumni that need to write research papers in their classes. What are some tips or suggestions you would give them for writing a successful research paper?
- If your paper is on something that you don’t know too much about at first, go on Wikipedia! While Wikipedia isn’t a good source for your actual paper, it’s a great starting place for you to learn some background on your topic and learn about specific organizations that involved with your topic. Then, you can go to those organizations’ websites as the actual source for your paper.
- If your school or college has databases, those are some of the best sources you can use because they have papers from academic journals that have been peer reviewed. Having that kind of qualified research can really enhance your paper and add a professional quality to it. Most colleges and some high schools have databases, and you can probably find out more from your librarian. On that note, even if your school doesn’t have a database, librarians are great people to talk to about your paper, and they can provide ideas for other qualified sources.
- Lastly, if your research paper is intensive, try to volunteer at an organization that is doing the work that you talk about. By volunteering, you can see the information first-hand and make the research more interesting to you. Even though you shouldn’t necessarily write about your personal volunteer experience in your research paper, you will learn things you would not find otherwise in your other sources. This also gives you the chance to interview people and add quotes from experts to your paper. For example, I interviewed the Director of Nursing at GMCH, whom I then quoted in my paper. She also pointed me towards additional resources on my topic.
Q: What are some tips or suggestions on how to do a successful presentation?
- Presentations are a lot more personal than research papers. You are looking right at your audience, which can be scary, but it also allows you to connect with them. With that in mind, make your presentation more personal than your paper. You still need to say all the facts that were in your paper, but add some anecdotes here and there. That’s where your volunteering or other experience can be very useful. For example, during my presentation, I talked about the experiences I had with the children and families at GMCH and how it impacted me. By explaining the facts and telling stories, you can connect with your audience on a rational and emotional level, keeping them engaged and more willing to listen to you.
- Another tip is, just as you cited your sources in your paper, cite your sources in your presentation. You don’t have to say it for every single fact (that would get tedious for the audience), but for any important or major claim you make, it can be useful to say, “According to the Center for Disease Control…” to lend more credibility to your presentation.
- Last and most important, remember that you know your material. Through all your hard work and research, you have become an expert on this topic, so act like it. Your audience wants to listen and support you, or else they wouldn’t be there. Take a deep breath, relax, and give the amazing presentation that you know you can.