August 20, 2021

Kavya Davuluri: Empowering with kindness

University of Michigan Medical School Student

Kavya Davuluri (she/her/hers) is from Canton, Michigan and graduated from Wayne State University in 2019. As a rising third-year student at the University of Michigan Medical School, she has experienced and accomplished a great deal already, particularly in the areas of DEI and MedEd.

Soon she'll be heading into the Branch years, exploring electives, competing clinical requirements and applying for a dual degree at Ross Business School. Here she shares advice for pre-meds, why she loves Ann Arbor and other highlights of her med school journey.

What made you decide on pursuing a career in medicine?

My mission is to empower people, and I think that medicine gives me the opportunity to do that best. Without a foundation of health in their lives, people cannot live to their full potential, or carry out the missions they envision for themselves. By partnering with my patients to give them the resources and care necessary to have a strong, healthy foundation for them to have the capacity to fulfill their dreams or purposes, I think I can fulfill the purpose I envision for myself!

I realized this through a lot of introspection throughout college, bearing in mind that medicine is a broken system with lots of burnout amongst providers and disparities amongst patients but also recognizing the impact I could have on that system as well as on my individual patients!

What is one thing you wish you would have known before or while going through the medical school application process?

As I now help people with their personal statements, I realize how valuable it was for me to bear in mind that medicine is not the calling; rather, it is the conduit through which you fulfill your calling! Your goals and purpose in life can be extremely multifaceted and nebulous, but it's important to show that you have varied dreams that exist both within and beyond being a physician. For example, I focused very heavily on my interest in business, diversity work, and hopes to work in academic medicine in my application, even though I did not (and still don't!) know how exactly those interests will tie into my career.

At Michigan, everyone is more than just a doctor or more than just a medical student. It's important that you share what will make your career distinctive whether that's being a doctor and something else (a venture capitalist, a professor, a researcher, a policy maker, etc.), or a doctor whose clinical practice is significant and meaningful (e.g., delivering patient care to marginalized populations, providing care within a global health sphere, etc).

But, something I wish I would've known was to be more confident and not worried so much about what other applicants were doing or how to reconcile any conflicting advice I was given. The journey into and through and beyond medical school is fraught with so much imposter syndrome! It's important to give yourself some grace, kindness, and know when it's better for you to not know what others are doing or thinking. Everyone has their strengths and their approaches! It's a practice I've had to develop throughout medical school and something that I wish I'd started earlier.

What have been your favorite parts or features of the med school curriculum so far, and why?

I am super passionate about medical education (MedEd) and love to talk about the curriculum at UMMS! My favorite part is how customizable the Branches (M3 and M4 years) are. I recently signed up for electives for my M3 year, and got to choose from 200+ electives, research months, international rotations, dual degrees, and more! It's really a "pick your own adventure" sort of experience, and I like how much I was able to cater to my own interests and priorities.

I chose to do a sub-internship in Maternal Fetal Medicine, take two months off for research, take a MedEd class called Empowering Educators, and have started to develop my own elective in Fetal Diagnostics and Therapeutics! Also—I’m applying to Ross Business School in a few weeks to hopefully take a year off for my MBA! Apart from the customizability, the Doctoring course and clinical rotations have been the most educational and insightful facets of the curriculum as well.

How would you describe your clinical training and/or what aspects of your clinical training have been most impactful and why?

I don't think I knew what being a doctor truly entailed until I entered the clinical space and had to actually help with the thought process of patient care (which premed volunteers or scribes never really do!). When I think back to the version of Kavya that was applying for medical school, I can't help but wonder what I actually thought I was getting myself into!

Being a doctor means solving riddles, puzzles, and brain-teasers. It requires incredible curiosity, attention to detail, and a mind that can flick through a thousand potential diagnoses to determine what tests to order and what treatments to administer. And of course, a caring disposition to show compassion to your vulnerable patients--but that is more widely understood for someone who has been a patient or a medical volunteer before.

How did you get involved with the Student Diversity Council? How has this shaped your experience?

I did diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) research in college, focusing on the organizational culture of care in an emergency department in Detroit. And, Wayne State instilled in me an awareness of social determinants of health that I hope to incorporate into my clinical practice.

Working with the Student Diversity Council (SDC) has allowed me to champion DEI-based MedEd at our school with the intent of creating doctors who are more attuned to health inequities and overcoming them. It's really allowed me to understand how slow change can be, but also how collaborative and impactful changing how we are trained to be physicians can be on the thousands of patients we will collectively see in the future.

What other significant extracurricular activities have been a part of your medical education so far and how have they enriched your medical school experience?

Apart from the SDC, I have been involved with the Medical Educational Consulting Group (also known as MedECG) which provides pro-bono consulting services to local healthcare related projects, businesses, organizations, etc. It’s been a great way for me to continue the passion for business and entrepreneurship that I cultivated in college and to also have a leadership role in impacting my community.

I’m also on the executive board of and a mentor for eMpower, which is a peer mentorship program that supports medical students through the transition points in their medical school journeys. Mentorship is one of my favorite things, and it’s been one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had at UMMS! I don't know where I would be without faculty mentors like Dr. Deborah Berman with authenticity, mentorship, and my interest in Maternal Fetal Medicine; Dr. Maya Hammoud regarding ObGyn and MedEd work; or Dr. Laura Hopson with DEI and qualitative research. And, of course, peer mentors from across classes and specialties!

I also am involved with ObGyn Delivered, a social media platform-based MedEd tool that focuses on using a variety of modalities to teach ObGyn clinical topics to medical students. We’re even working on a podcast! Apart from these, I’ve been involved with antepartum wellness research, and DEI MedEd research and curriculum development, among other projects!

What are some of the things you like about going to medical school in a college town? Anything unexpected?

I lived in Detroit for four years prior to Ann Arbor, and was worried I would miss the city atmosphere. I was struck by how much big city vibe Ann Arbor is able to pack into a compact footprint. There’s SO much to do—it’s truly astounding. Because the many schools at Michigan are all premier and well established, there are always tons of clubs (pottery club at the art school, investment groups out of the business school, etc.) to get involved with and events (plays, art shows, tech events) to go to. The dining scene in A2 is unreal. There are also streets upon streets of delectable, local restaurants with tons of both affordable and high-end cuisine from all over the world.

While there’s a city flavor, we also have tons of nature: I took my first quiz of medical school with a swimsuit on under my clothes so that I could meet my friends and go tubing down the Huron River that winds around the hospital system. There are so many parks in Ann Arbor and great hiking trails just outside the town that a lot of my classmates take advantage of! And, you’re a $12 bus ride away from Detroit, a 4-hour drive from Chicago, a weekend trip away from the colorful Upper Peninsula, and 30 minutes away from an international airport.

What comes to mind when you think of your fellow students at Michigan, and how have they shaped your med school experience in big and small ways?

I came from a very competitive atmosphere in my undergraduate school and was concerned that medical school would be similar. I couldn’t have been further from the truth at Michigan. Everyone is so genuinely kind, thoughtful, intelligent, passionate, and purely delightful.

All of my peers come from such different backgrounds, and I have been able to learn so much from them and live vicariously through their experiences. Some of my best friends took years off to get their Masters in BME, work in Tanzania via the Peace Corps, work in academia, or conduct research at the NIH! I can sincerely say that my peers have made me a better person and future physician in more ways than I can count.

Apart from inspiring me, my friends have been an unyielding source of support throughout the highs and lows of medical school. They never fail to lift me up when the imposter syndrome becomes unrelenting or to celebrate with me when I get a big win. I’ve made lifelong friends here at UMMS and I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of the #GoBlueMed family.