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09/27/2023 07:05 AM

Rahul Anand: Empowering the Medical Leaders of Tomorrow

Rahul Anand recently received the STARS Award from Costs of Care as a result of his efforts with empowering medical students at QU Netter to develop important leadership skills. Photo courtesy of Rahul Anand

It’s one thing to educate the medical professionals of tomorrow by instilling them with the best medical knowledge and clinical skills. However, their successes should not be judged by their expertise in hard medical practices, but rather, by their ability to build relationships and leadership skills.

Rahul Anand, an associate professor of medical sciences with a focus on microbiology and infectious diseases, knew that when he came to Frank H. Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University (QU Netter) in North Haven five years ago. As someone with both a medical doctrine and a Master’s of Business Administration, Rahul is able to see both sides of the practices in his field.

“I am both a physician, as well as I see the business side of things, and that leads me to two places. One is that we were teaching medical students a lot about medical knowledge and clinical skills, but they weren’t really getting the best we could give them on developing their leadership skills,” Rahul says. “So, that year, we embarked on developing a leadership curriculum, which all medical students can have access to from day one of medical training.”

Rahul’s efforts in empowering medical students to develop their leadership skills led to him receiving the Students and Trainees Advocating for Resource Stewardship (STARS) Faculty Excellence Award from Costs of Care, a national nonprofit organization that strives to provide better healthcare at a lower cost.

Rahul was nominated by four students, or “stars,” as part of the program for the award. He recalls his reaction to winning the accolade.

“It was a mixture of delight and feeling very humbled that our students have been so thoughtful and have given me this honor,” says Rahul. “And I recognized that I received it because of the efforts of all the faculty and leadership at Netter who have invested over the years in this program and believed in it.”

At the heart of the STARS program, which QU Netter was the first institution in Connecticut to join in 2018, is educating students on the importance of value-based care. What is value-based care?

“Value-based care is focusing on outcomes that matter to patients and delivering the best possible positive outcomes with the least amount of harm at effective costs,” Rahul says.

In order to achieve that mission, the STARS program empowers its participating students at QU Netter to inform their educators to build an advanced value-based care as part of the school’s medical curriculum.

“Our students actually tell us what they want to learn about value-based care, how they want to learn it, when they want to learn it, and they partner with us to develop these sessions themselves,” says Rahul. “This is an example of design thinking. So, they are co-creators, and the program empowers them, their voice to be heard by the medical education leaders.”

The curriculum at QU Netter has a strong focus on relationship-centered leadership, says Rahul.

“I think when interacting with other health professionals, relationships are the currency of leadership in healthcare,” he says.

Those trusting relationships are not limited to fellow medical students and staff at the school, but also in the North Haven community and beyond. Getting to know a patient’s condition and taking a holistic approach can help a medical professional focus more on delivering long-term value to healthcare. It’s something that is not paid enough attention to, says Rahul.

“The incentives in the system are geared towards delivering value in the short term, like getting that surgery right or getting the episode of care right...What we are not paying as much attention to is delivering long-term value that focus on wellness and preventing disease, or when disease happens treating it on a holistic basis and working towards reversing it rather than just treating it with drugs or surgeries,” says Rahul. “What we can do better is looking at it from a patient-centered view and trying to prevent the disease or reverse it where it happens.”

Outside of QU Netter, Rahul’s practice in infectious disease extends up to Community Health Services in Hartford, focusing on preventing and treating HIV in the capital area. Rahul and his colleagues in Hartford will be presenting their program at the IDWeek conference in Boston next month.

“One of the programs that we’re doing shared medical appointments or group visits for patients who are living with HIV, to help focus on different aspects of lifestyle medicine, to help prevent, reverse, and treat chronic diseases,” Rahul says. “Once a month, patients meet for 90 minutes in groups of five to 15, and we talk about different aspects like nutrition with our nutritionist, physical activities, sleep, stress management, etc.”