1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. My name is Danusha Sanchez but many of my friends and colleagues know me as “Dee” for short. I am a trilingual Polominican who is passionate about obstacle course racing. (AROO!) I graduated college with a dual undergraduate degree in Chemical Biology and Literature and a Masters in Healthcare Informatics. I’m a certified Project manager, EMT, Scrum Master and CPR instructor. I have been working for many years in Healthcare IT growing from a Strategic Clinical Consultant to now a Lead Project Manager who is responsible for ensuring the successful implementation of electronic health records at major hospitals across the country.
2. Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did he or she impact you? My favorite professor would be my advisor for Literature, Dr. Sinnreich-Levi. Being that I attended an engineering school, humanities were usually not the most popular coursework to take. Despite that, Dr Sinnreich–Levi made every effort to ensure that every student was a well-rounded scientist/engineer and very well equipped to succeed in the workforce. I didn’t realize the impact she had on me until I was in the workforce. On the first day of my job, I was assigned to a Live Event with no training, guidance, nor direction. I was petrified, stressed, and worried that this was a test placed to see if hiring me was the right choice. The first thing that saved me during this time was thinking back on the research techniques she taught me on how to finish my published literary thesis. She taught me that magic formula for success is to: establish a question, research it, and chunk the work due. Using the methodology that was taught in the semester I was able to weed through the erroneous information and highlight useful information to compile an informative summary to help me survive the Go Live event. Even to this day, I continue to be “saved” by the skills that the Humanities have taught me.
3. When did you first decide you wanted to become a doctor and why? I have always wanted to be a doctor my entire life; however, many circumstances have thwarted that dream. My first calling towards medicine was around 3-4 years old. My mother, immigrated to America in order to be able to provide a better life for me. In order to give me that opportunity as a single mother, she worked double shifts at the hospital. Therefore, there were many days that my mother had to ask either her friends or grandparents to babysit me. One day, she had asked a family friend to stay at home to make sure I was alright. Because I am a very curious and adventurous person, I started to play with my stuffed teddy bear in an adjacent room. As I analyzed this teddy bear I began to question, “why don’t I hear a heartbeat in the teddy bear like I hear in me?” I figured there must have been something defective with the teddy bear. So, I decided to “fix” the teddy bear. Being very observant of people’s actions, I knew where my mom had hidden the scissors; however, that didn’t stop clever me. I took the scissors gently cut the bear open and did my first “surgery”. During my analysis, I learned that the teddy bear had no heart and that’s why I couldn’t hear a heartbeat! I found amid my toys a small stuffed heart that made a heartbeat sound when you squeeze it and put it into the teddy bear; but the stuffing was still coming out! So, I decided to use a use a shoe lace and Band-Aids to tie up the opening. I was so excited with my successful “surgery”, I excitingly ran to the babysitter to share my new success. Ironically, I was so excited I ended up myself running straight into the door and getting a small laceration my head. Luckily it was only superficial but both me and the teddy fully recuperated together.
4. What area of medicine are you interested in? Sports medicine or Emergency Medicine
5. What’s the coolest experience you’ve had so far on your premedical journey? “Medic Up!” Those two words caused my hands to become sweaty, my breathing to become heavy, and my mind to race. August 9th through 13th I was in tactical medic school. These classes teach an EMT how to do his or her duty in unsafe situations such as part of the S.W.A.T. or military. The program was both mentally fatiguing, and physically and emotionally stressful. I loved every second of it. What drove my passion was the knowledge that 20% of tactical deaths are prevented owing to the presence of a tactical medic. It was exhilarating to know that just by being present with my medical training, I personally could be responsible for saving a team member’s life. This particular experience is important to me because it tested my limits and showed me my talents as well as my weaknesses under stress. During tactical medic school the experience which had the biggest impact was the final mission. The mission was to willingly enter a tear gas chamber, remove our masks, and be drilled with questions. I feared the unknown. The other team members had experienced some sort of chemical warfare; I had not. As the line for the chamber grew shorter and I came closer to the door my body trembled uncontrollably; my breathing became harder, and my eyes started to water. I thought to myself, “I must be insane if I willingly am entering a building knowing the effects of tear gas.” The line became shorter and I was next. Then the door opened and it was my turn to enter. Lub dub, lub dub, lub…….dub. The sounds of my heart seemed to be getting louder. My surroundings seemed to have slowed down exponentially as I watched the drill instructor slowly pull the pin from the canister and the gas encompass the entire room. “I still can leave,” I began to think, but I did not move; something inside compelled me to fight my fear. The pain of the gas was pretty unbearable but when I walked out of that chamber I got a new perspective on life. I realized that sometimes it is necessary to face one’s fears in order to grow and that my weaknesses do not define who I am, rather, what I choose to do with those weaknesses make me who I am.
6. What is your favorite book? Being that I’m a passionate obstacle course racer, my favorite book is Spartan Up!. Spartan Up! is a very inspiring book that teaches you how to conquer your greatest obstacle—your will, embrace your greatest friend—discipline, and achieve the ultimate—obstacle immunity. The book taught me how to “handle the obstacles of everyday life”. Since life will present you with obstacles, “obstacle immunity”, meaning “an ability to move past, around, through, or over what life places in [your] path” is mindset that is most efficient. When I eternalized this mindset, goals which seemed so out of reach in the past became new realities. For example, just recently I’ve achieved my own personal goal of acquiring 30 finisher medals from obstacle course races including a Triple Trifecta Spartan medal and a Tough Mudder finisher headband. If you told me I could even finish ONE of these races, I would have called you crazy; but this book really inspires a person to look beyond their life obstacles and all the excuses a person gives to prevent them from reaching and accomplishing their goals.
7. Tell us one thing interesting about you that most people don’t know. One of the biggest reasons I didn’t go to medical school immediately after graduation because I had a bucket list of life experiences I wanted to achieve which would not have been possible if I had started medical school immediately after graduating. For example, I’ve always wanted to run my own business. So, I experimented with my own self-startup called Deeoptimal Consulting. I started the company because I really wanted to help new college graduates transition from their healthcare informatics education into healthcare IT consulting. I realized that there was fairly big a gap between academic knowledge and the workforce knowledge. Therefore, my company was a venue by which to provide education and oversight while working with real projects. We worked with many clients and a handful of well-known fortune 500 clients such as Accenture so I was very fortunate to have been able to achieve this experience since it allowed me to mark complete another item off my bucket life.
Are you a premed? Join Diverse Medicine now. It's free!