Resident Spotlight: Deepal Shah, MD
For Deepal Shah, MD, the call to neurology was a gradual one. An interest in psychology in high school pivoted to neurobiology and neuropsychology in college and settled in neurology when she was a medical student. Now, as a third-year (or Senior Assistant Resident or SAR), resident, Shah is becoming familiar with EMGs, EEGs, and other specialized areas of neurology and considering a future in movement disorders. In this week’s “Spotlight” interview, Shah talks to us about her current time as a SAR, shares what she misses about her 20+ years in Texas, and gives some life advice to her younger self.
What are your current responsibilities as a Senior Assistant Resident? What does a typical day for you look like?
Third year (as a SAR) is very different from the rest of our years in training. We spend a few months on EMG and EEG rotations where we focus on learning how to perform nerve conduction studies and read EMGs and EEGs. These are such subspecialized fields that we spend most of our time becoming familiar with the new terminology and learning how to interpret the data. On the inpatient rotations, SARs do either consults or night float back up. On consults, I evaluate stroke codes and other emergent neurologic problems. On night float back up, my primary responsibility is to provide support and mentorship to the junior resident while also assessing consults at the VA.
How and when did you first get interested in neurology?
In high school, I was fascinated by what I learned in my psychology class and pursued this as a major for my undergraduate studies. During college, I noticed I was drawn more to the neuropsychology courses in which I learned how neurobiology related to both normal behavior and abnormal pathology. So, I was convinced that neurology was the right field for me. This was only reinforced during medical school as I was time and time again reminded how humbling neurology, in particular, is as there is so much still unknown about how the nervous system works.
What areas of neurology are you most interested in? What plans, if any, do you have for what you’d like to do after completing your residency?
I've truly enjoyed all my rotations thus far in residency. However, I felt happiest on my movement disorders rotation. I think these patients are some of the sweetest I've met, and I find deep brain stimulation intriguing. With DBS and botox, as a movement disorders specialist, I can have a very active role in improving the quality of life of my patients.
If you could give one piece of advice to your former self as a medical student or first-year resident, what would it be?
Take care of yourself. You're on a long journey, so treasure the meaningful and humbling patient interactions you have to power you through the tiring calls. Lean on your family and friends to re-energize you. Take breaks because you have many other roles outside of medicine.
You got your bachelor’s and medical degree from Austin and Houston, respectively. What do you miss the most about the Lone Star state? What’s the most pleasant surprise you had about living in the Triangle?
I miss my family and friends back home of course. I miss the largest (and I think the most beautiful) medical center in the world. And I miss the amazing food, especially Tex Mex. So, as a vegetarian, I was most surprised by the variety of delicious food Durham has to offer. Durham has really grown on me as it has both a rich history and a modern vibe with amazing restaurants and indoor and outdoor attractions.
What passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?
I love reading - crime fiction and suspense thrillers are my favorite. I also enjoy hiking, especially through all the local parks in the Triangle area (and abroad)!
Shah and her fiance Heriberto pose in their official engagement photo; the two will marry this fall.
Shah and her fiance enjoy nature during a recent trip to Puerto Rico.