Our Stories

Learning New Skills to Serve the Underserved

Chakravarthy puts classroom knowledge to work to improve patient care

Rohini Chakravarthy

Vanderbilt MD/MBA 2020

In college, as a student volunteer at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Rohini Chakravarthy came in contact every day with low-income patients who could not afford expensive drugs and lab tests. She watched in frustration as tests ordered for these rarely affected the patient’s treatment plan. The experience fortified her resolve to reduce waste and improve care.

Back in her native Nashville, Rohini enrolled in the joint MD/MBA program at Vanderbilt. She knew that the program’s focus on immersion-based, experiential learning would offer exceptional opportunities but the opportunities’ scope has been even greater than she imagined.

As executive director of a student-run free clinic, Rohini puts to work what she learns at Owen, managing a team of more than 100 students and overseeing care for 300 patients. As she explains, “I have applied lessons from oral presentations when talking about the clinic at fundraising events. I’ve tested out the soft skills when making tough decisions with the board about whether or not to expand certain services at the clinic. I’ve created pivot tables of pharmacy charges and engaged in process improvement when clinic visits were taking too long. I feel much more prepared to engage in these tasks for the betterment of my patients, thanks to the skills and mentorship I’ve received from Vanderbilt. “

Meanwhile, Rohini was able to pursue several independent study projects, including one opportunity that arose after an Owen professor connected her to a Vanderbilt physician interested in applying the technique of time-driven, activity-based costing to his practice. “These types of connections,” Rohini says, “are much easier to build when professors know your name and are truly invested in your academic interests.”

Thanks to Vanderbilt, she says, “I have had the opportunity to pursue my passion of caring for the underserved.”



Fun Fact: In college, Rohini organized a team of dancers who combined ancient Bharatanatyam dance with hip-hop styles.

These types of connections are much easier to build when professors know your name and are truly invested in your academic interests.