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Faces and Voices

Rajinder Bajwa, MD

Annmarie Mikowski, MD

Fellows in UB’s Division of Infectious Diseases train with experienced faculty and have time to absorb what they learn during patient encounters, says Rajinder Bajwa.

Rajinder Bajwa gravitated to the field of infectious disease medicine for the detective work.

He loves piecing together seemingly disparate clues en route to that “aha!” moment of diagnosis.

Yet when he began his infectious diseases fellowship at UB, he questioned his ability to unravel the medical mysteries that present themselves in the subspecialty.

Would his patients open up to him, he wondered?

To get to the root of the problem, infectious disease specialists take an all-encompassing medical history that includes several personal—and potentially embarrassing—questions.

“I was hesitant asking these questions because I feared my patients’ reactions,” recalls Bajwa.

Thanks to the attentive UB faculty training him, Bajwa conquered his unease and saw his clinical confidence soar.

 “I learned to interact with patients so much more easily,” he says, “and that’s all because of the way the program is structured.”

Training Under Experienced Faculty

In the earliest days of his fellowship, Bajwa shadowed UB faculty during rounds, observing how they gained patients’ trust while assessing their health problems.

As his training progressed, he gained more autonomy, gradually assuming a central role during patient consultations.

Throughout the program, the attending physicians offered Bajwa thoughtful feedback, allowing him to hone his skills with each case he encountered.

“Each faculy member has great experience, and each one has a different style of practicing medicine. When we interacted with them on service, we incorporated different aspects of their style into our practice.

“As a result, I felt confident treating anyone—from a healthy, young individual to a renal transplant patient to an immunocompromised patient with advanced cancer.”

Opportunities for Self-Learning

During his fellowship, Bajwa’s professional self-assurance was nourished by quiet moments away from the exam room, when he could absorb everything he’d encountered on daily rounds.

“In some programs you’re constantly seeing patients from 6 in the morning until 9 at night,” he explains. “There’s no time for self-learning and reflecting on what you have done throughout the day.

“UB’s program is not like that. The program is designed so you have enough time to read and learn about the diseases you have seen. It made us better doctors because, the next time we saw a similar case, we could deal with our patients in a better, more educated way.

“That’s the most important aspect of any training program—and that’s why it was so wonderful being a UB ID fellow.”