M.D./M.B.A. Student Named UM's Graduate Student of the Year

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Serena Shah, a University of Miami Miller School of Medicine third-year M.D./M.B.A. student, was named UM's Graduate Student of the Year at the Eighth Annual Toppel Career Award Ceremony, held this month. The award honors a graduate student who demonstrates outstanding dedication to professional development and scholarly projects.

Serena Shah, a third-year M.D./M.B.A. student who was named UM's Graduate Student of the Year, stands in a green dress in front of a fountain.
Serena Shah, M.D./M.B.A. Class of 2024

“Serena’s academic record, leadership qualities, and contributions to the University make her an excellent choice for the award,” said Cristina Pravia, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine, who has been one of Shah’s longitudinal clinical educators for the past three years.

Inspired by her parents, who are both physicians, Shah always considered a career in medicine. While studying neuroscience as an undergraduate student at the University of Miami, she worked as a bench and clinical student researcher and decided to follow in her parents’ footsteps.

“It is very meaningful to contribute to the health and well-being of individuals and society,” she said. “I feel good about what I am doing every day.”

With plans to pursue academic medicine, Shah wanted to gain a deep understanding of the business of health care so she could make an actionable difference in both her own career and others’ lives. The partnership between the Miller School and the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School prepares future physicians for the complexities related to running a practice, while also preparing them for careers in health sector management, leadership, and policy.

While Shah admits that the workload is challenging, she says the design of the program has allowed her to find time to volunteer, participate in research, launch a professional development company, win first place in a national M.D./M.B.A. health care business case competition, and more.

“Administrators have done an excellent job of integrating the curriculum, rather than simply adding a sequence of M.B.A. classes to the standard medical education,” said Shah. “They work closely with our cohort to ensure we are successfully balancing both degrees.”

Shah is currently working as a medical student researcher at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. She will apply for her residency in 2024 and is hoping to match in ophthalmology.

“Working at an academic center as an ophthalmologist will allow me to become a practicing clinician, while maintaining my commitment to research and student mentorship,” Shah said.