Tani Malhotra, MD

I am a Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellow in Cleveland, Ohio. The hurdles that I had to overcome to get to my current position are notable but remain a familiar problem for many other medical trainees.

I am an international medical graduate (IMG) from the American University of Antigua (AUA). I first came to the United States in 2011 to start my clinical rotations. Our typical core rotation had 60 medical students in a single hospital, which made for a competitive experience to get recognized for skill, interest, or hard work. Simultaneously, we were treated as a second class by US medical students who would openly question our intellect and education.

I went to medical school with the dream of becoming an Obstetrician; however, at every step, this dream was questioned by counselors, senior physicians, and even AUA alumni. I was told that a competitive specialty such as Ob/Gyn was a pipe dream for IMGs. Despite this advice, I applied for residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. I didn’t Match despite graduating at the top of my medical school class. I spent much of Spring 2013 going to Ob/Gyn residency offices in NYC and waiting for hours for the opportunity to talk to program directors. This effort did not prove fruitful, but I continued to reach out to programs. Though my dreams felt further away than ever, I reapplied to Ob/Gyn residencies in Fall 2013, but also applied to Internal Medicine. To my delight, I Matched to an Ob/Gyn residency!

After years of being told I wasn’t smart enough and that I wouldn’t get into my specialty, I started residency as the only IMG in the program. I felt a strong pressure to succeed as failure would set me and other IMGs back. So I succeeded. At the same time, I also decided that I would dedicate a major part of my life to making this pathway fairer for those that would come after me. There are too many obstacles to overcome: The administrative burdens placed on physicians by archaic and xenophobic legislative regulations. The weights of self-doubt and imposter syndrome.

Because of my experiences, I found my voice. I have also spent that past few years finding places where my voice could be heard. Through PAMED and the AMA, I was able to help make policies to protect physicians and patients and improve the healthcare system. As I continue on this pathway, I will not back down from speaking up for my peers, even in the face of naysayers or personal threats to myself or my livelihood. I will continue to do everything in my power to level the playing field so that we can practice good medicine for everyone.