HumAnes of UCLA: Komal Patel, MD

Introducing Komal Patel, MD

Komal Patel

September 12, 2023

First off, thank you so much for sharing your story. Where did you grow up? Where did you complete your education and training?  

I grew up in a small town in India with 5 siblings and an extended family. I went to medical school right after finishing 12th grade. I finished med school at the age of 22 and anesthesia residency at the age of 25. I moved to the United States after that and repeated residency in anesthesiology at Henry Ford Hospital and the University of Chicago. I finished fellowship in adult cardiac anesthesiology at the University of Chicago and joined the faculty at UCLA afterward. 

What was your childhood dream? 
Being one of the bright kids at school, everyone told me, “You should be a doctor.” And that became my dream, too, which I am very happy about.  

Tell us a little about your family (and any pets). 
I met my husband Dakshesh during internship after medical school in India, and we have been married for 27 years. He is a musculoskeletal radiologist at USC. We have two children, a 24-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son who wants to be an astrophysicist. We don’t have any pets yet, but 3 out of 4 family members want a dog. Let’s see how long I can resist! 

Komal Patel

What has been your favorite vacation destination so far? 
It’s hard to pick one destination, as my family loves to travel around the world. But so far, I have enjoyed outdoor-related travels the most, like hiking in Machu Picchu, glamping in the Amazonian rain forest, and going on a wildlife safari in East Africa. Traveling in India with my extended family was also my favorite vacation. There is still a long list of places we want to visit, including all the national parks of America. 

What is your favorite way to spend a day off? 
After taking care of sickest patients at work, anything and everything outdoors is my favorite pastime. I love to take walks, hike, and run in the evening after work. My husband and I recently trained together and ran two half marathons. We have also done some serious hiking, like the “Grand Canyon Rim to River” hike. For weekends, hosting 50-60 people at home is not uncommon for me, especially around Indian festivals.  

Komal Patel

What is your favorite movie or TV show, and why? 
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I started watching Marvel movies with our kids, and they have now become my favorite. We go together to the theater for any of their new releases. I also love to watch Bollywood movies in the theater with my friends. I really don’t have the time or patience to sit in front of the TV to watch a series, but recently I did binge watch on Amazon Prime the “Bandish Bandits” series, which is based on Indian classical music.  

Who or what inspires you in your career?  

Over the years, I have found that clinical medicine is what I enjoy the most. Taking care of the sickest patients and seeing them getting better is what inspires me. Also, being an integral part of multidisciplinary teams to initiate many new interventional cath lab programs at UCLA has been a huge source of pride and inspiration for me. Being able to touch many lives with one of these teams at a medical mission in El Salvador has given even more meaning and purpose to what I do.  

Komal Patel

How has our department changed over the years that you've worked here? 
From working in the Center for Health Sciences (CHS) basement without any sunlight to working at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with large picturesque windows, from paper charting to EMR charting, from requesting vacation on paper (and getting approved after months) to Qgenda scheduling—a lot has changed in my 17 years here at UCLA. One thing that has not changed is the warm and supportive nature of the people in our department. I can count on them for anything at any time.  

What career advice would you give to your younger self? 
This is not necessarily career advice, but I wish I had learned and understood personal finances better earlier on, as it has a huge impact on the quantity and quality of the way I practice medicine.  

What is one thing that can instantly make your day better? 
Being surrounded by people with positivity and good humor always makes my day better. I am fortunate to be surrounded by many such people in our department.  

Komal Patel