Department of History

Sumir Pandit

Date of Degree: Bachelor of Arts in History (chemistry minor), 2011
Current Position: Internal Medicine Resident, Massachusetts General Hospital

With each "history and physical" I perform, as a medical resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, I exercise the skills I first honed as a History major at Pitt. My job is to reconstruct a thread of events based on people's stories, complaints, and habits.  I then critically evaluate what other information I need--and get it--in order to weave that thread into a detailed portrait of the situation.  These primary data and secondary sources are the tools of my trade, by which I can (hopefully) make a difference in people's lives.
In retrospect this link between History and Medicine is obvious, but when I first arrived as a freshman on Pitt's campus, I had little idea about my future.  While filling my first semester schedule with known entities—bio, chem, and econ--my interest was piqued by a bold course title: "The American Way of War." Intrigued, I enrolled, loved the class, and subsequently devoured different History courses every semester until graduation.  I was captivated by how the past influences the present, by how events--and who recounts them--can immeasurably shape the way we think.

Despite ultimately discovering and deciding to pursue Medicine late in my sophomore year, my History major was non-negotiable.  I sought research projects: I read medieval religious texts to understand their views on healing and medicine.  I explored 1950s youth culture through critical analysis of the TV show "Leave it to Beaver."  Along the way I made connections with professors who continue to be mentors and friends to this day.

While at Pitt, I also danced competitively with Steel City Bhangra and traveled to competitions across the country.  I gave tours as a Pitt Pathfinder.  I reconnected alumni with Pitt as a Blue and Gold Society member.  I traded jokes and ideas and advice with my peers and advisors in the University Honors College.  These experiences, as much as my time in the classroom, made my Pitt experience special.

I did my graduate training at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School.  Now, with an MD-MBA dual degree, I'm a few steps closer to my ultimate goal: identifying real problems in healthcare and now having a toolkit to begin addressing them.  Many of my skills cultivated through my study of history--dissecting big events into the crucial tipping points and individual agendas precipitating them--will continue to be helpful as I build a joint career in patient care and health care management, identifying problems with training in solving them, in order to help hospitals and healthcare be more efficient while improving patient care.