When Patpilai (Pat) Kasinpila was 12 years old, she moved to the United States from Thailand and watched her parents persevere through the challenges of working in a new country. Her parents’ work ethic and determination instilled in Pat the idea that she could do anything she wanted, as long as she worked hard for it. In high school, she decided she would combine her love for science and art and one day become a surgeon.
With that resolve and the guidance she received from her UF mentors along the way, Pat graduated from the UF College of Medicine last week and will soon begin her residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford University.
Pat studied biomedical engineering at UF to feed her passion for “seeing how things work and putting them together.” In her third year, she reached out to faculty directors in the College of Medicine with hopes to see the inside of an operating room. Edward Staples, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon and associate professor in the department of surgery, invited her to observe her first surgery – a mitral valve replacement.
“I was in awe for all hours of that operation. I thought it was the most amazing thing ever,” Pat said. “From that point, I was hooked. Each time I went back, it was even more inspiring.”
When it came time to apply to medical schools, Pat knew she wanted to attend the UF College of Medicine after the encouragement she received from faculty and fellows as an undergraduate student. During her first year of medical school, she contacted Thomas Beaver, M.D., M.P.H., professor and chief of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery and program director of the thoracic and cardiovascular surgery residency program, to work with him on a research project. Over the next four years, Beaver would become her mentor and advisor – helping Pat decide which residency track to pursue, and he reached out to alumni at the Stanford University School of Medicine when Pat decided she wanted to apply.
“Throughout med school, my professors and attendings really cared about teaching,” she said. “Their goal was to pass on everything they know and to make sure students come out of the program good doctors, in terms of both compassionate care and medical knowledge and skill.”
In the fall, Pat begins her residency with plans to devote at least one year to research. Following that, she hopes to stay in academic medicine, where she can train and influence students — and maybe even introduce a future surgeon to his or her first operating room.
“I would like to be able to continue what my mentors did for me,” Pat said, “to influence and inspire the next generation of students.”