Neal Rakesh's Path to Leadership
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Neal Rakesh's Path to Leadership

Neal Rakesh, MD is a Resident Physician in the Department of Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons & Weill Cornell Medical College). He is also the 2019-2020 Chair of the AAP's Resident/ Fellow Council (RFC). Discover his path to PM&R and his plans for future leadership!

I am honored to serve as your Chair for the Association of Academic Physiatrists' Resident/ Fellow Council (RFC).

As the child of an engineer and a teacher, the importance of education and sharing with others was instilled within me at a young age. While studying anatomy and neurology in medical school, I quickly became fascinated with the connection of the mind and body in its perception of external stimuli via neurological pathways. As a biomedical engineering, I continuously sought to explore the bridge between engineering and medicine.

My curiosity for more led me to attend the 2016 AAP Annual Meeting in California. I was immediately drawn into the world of rehabilitation: a poster hall full of residents eager to share their exciting patient cases and research, sessions packed with novel treatments ranging from early ICU rehabilitation to ultrasound-guided procedures, and even a once-paralyzed rat running on a treadmill. By joining the RFC, I wanted to impart that same transformative experience that sparked my interest in physiatry to current and prospective colleagues and provide a voice for all of us on the issues that matter most.

Serving as the RFC Vice Chair last year, I have learned much about what we do as an organization and how we can continue to benefit the lives of every interested medical student and physiatrist-in-training. Within the year, we helped establish the new Medical Student Council, a Resident-Fellow Section in AJPM&R, a physiatry wellness initiative, and new educational podcasts. These projects are the result of the effort put forth through the years by amazing individuals willing to work together to help make things better for future generations.

It is easy to go through the daily grind of life without a thought about how to enhance the field for those that follow in our footsteps. However, I believe that as physicians we should not only strive to help our patients, but also one another. The RFC is a unique organization that cultivates a collaborative environment where residents, fellows and medical students can learn, train and shape the growing field of physiatry. I am excited to serve as Chair of the RFC to help nurture collaboration, advance our academic environment, and promote the success of our future colleagues.