Hi Prospective Yalie! I’m Azim Munivar and am a PGY-2 resident and exuberant optimist with regards to the power that we have to make a better society. I was born in Pakistan and grew up in San Antonio, Texas where my family moved when I was a wee baby. While my fairly stereotypical South Asian upbringing steered me towards the sciences and medicine, I have always been moved to create change at scale. Through some combination of Texan naiveté and a desire to fill my high school summer with some productivity I ended up at the University of Pennsylvania for a science-based summer program, and only several weeks did I realize I was at an Ivory Tower institution. I learned about a joint-degree program that combined engineering and business degrees and thought it would be a great way to learn about how to leverage technology to improve people's lives. As college was wrapping up, I ultimately decided to work in the business world in the healthcare investing team at a venture capital fund in Boston. My group worked in healthcare services and healthcare IT so I learned a ton about how the healthcare system ticks and what makes for a sustainable and successful business, but missed thinking about biology in any meaningful way. Much to the rejoicing of my mother, I decided to go to medical school as I thought it would provide the scientific stimulation I craved, but also allow me to get an on the ground view of important and unresolved problems in medicine that I could dedicate myself to.
I initially thought I wanted to work on the ‘core’ issues that drive the suffering and cost in our healthcare system – obesity, heart disease, cancer and the like. It wasn’t until quite late in medical school that I appreciated the scope of psychiatric illness and its important interconnections to these other fields of medicine and well-being which I continue to find fascinating. I also found the greatest day-to-day satisfaction in establishing a connection with a patient in order to treat the organ system by which they experience themselves and the world they live in.
Why I Chose Yale
Many reasons! I went to medical school at Yale and had the most incredible experiences as a student here. My friend and I conceptualized an idea to treat skin disease with engineering commensal bacteria. We were able to marshal the resources at Yale and in Connecticut to get one grant, and then another to start to develop our idea which at this point has turned into a small biotech company. The process was more of a manifestation of my desire to build something, and I think is a testament to the way the medical school, broadly speaking, thinks about empowering ideas from enthusiastic people. I met Dr. Rohrbaugh and Dr. Ross as I was thinking about what residency I wanted to do, and was so impressed by their dedication to providing me a window into psychiatry that was specific to my interest areas. Finally with regards to being empowered to pursue one’s own passions, the CASE rotation and the flexibility during the fourth year are unparalleled opportunities.
I’m currently working in the Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit (fancy name right?!) where we have a mix of patients that are participating in research protocols and patients that we can select as interesting teaching cases. I get in sometime between 8a-9a depending on if I’m taking signout for CMHC. I try to get a trip into the gym beforehand a few days a week, and if not I’ll try to do this afterwards. Time outside of work in the evenings is a mix of trying to get smart on neuroscience, scheming for my CASE project, or spending time with friends from residency or good friends from medical school that are back here for residency or haven’t left.
Where I Live
This is a sore subject. My first year of residency I lived in the thick of downtown in the most chic, open-layout, beautiful wood floor, brick wall, wine fridge included apartment before my landlord sold the place. We got such a steal on the place and at times there can be real gems like this place either downtown or in East Rock to snatch up. Now I live in a totally wonderful apartment in Prospect Hill which is a neighborhood just to the west of East Rock. It’s close to Science Park which is slowly being developed and apparently there is a superb breakfast spot that classmates are raving about.
My Favorite Things to do In/Around New Haven
Crucial things first – brunch. The best brunch place is Bella’s in Westville. Some people will try to talk to you about the Pantry being the best place, but unless you are only in the mood for banana chocolate chip pancakes, which are excellent there, Bella’s has a superb rotating menu of really creative southern/Cajun style brunch dishes. There is a subsidized grad student bar called Gpscy that I (and many other residents) shamelessly frequent with a great outdoor area. There are some great live music venues including College Street Music Hall and Outer Space in Hamden. The brewery scene has exploded in CT and there a number of excellent places to check out on the weekends as well. If you want to get out of New Haven and be out in nature there is an idyllic lake in Durham called Miller’s Pond that is worth making several stops to over the summer. I’ve also been making more stops to the beach in Milford where you can rent a paddleboard and get out in the middle of the ocean in no time flat.
When I was on residency interviews, I found that despite the long days of promoting specific didactic structure, a unique offering of clinical settings, or wellness facilities, many resident that I spoke to made their decision to attend a program based on intensely personal factors related around proximity of family, ideal city, requirements of their partner, etc. Don’t underestimate how important these things are to your happiness and ability to be successful! That said, a crucial part of the residency experience here is the incredibly talented and fun group of colleagues that I feel lucky to count myself a part of. The program directors put in a lot of effort to assemble a class with diverse interests and backgrounds. Personally, this group has been a source of support when I have personal issues that come up, has provide perspective on my understanding of my patient’s problems, and provided incredibly valuable input to hone ideas on to address larger systemic problems.