KU School of Medicine–Wichita
1010 N. Kansas
Wichita, KS, 67214
September 20, 2018
Virendra C. Patel, M.D., his wife, Urvashi, and son Om Patel, M.D., a fourth-year resident in KUSM-W's Orthopaedic Surgery Program, meet with Dean Garold Minns, M.D., during a tour of the KU School of Medicine-Wichita campus.
By Belinda Venters
The University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita (KUSM-W) has received a gift of $1 million to establish a scholarship for medical students.
The Virendra C. Patel, M.D., and Urvashi V. Patel Scholarship, through KU Endowment, will give preference to KUSM-W students who are from or are interested in practicing in southeast Kansas. It will be awarded beginning in spring 2019. The Patel family made the gift in recognition of the long history that their family has with medicine in southeast Kansas.
"We are very thankful for the generous support of Dr. and Mrs. Patel in endowing their scholarship at our medical school," said Garold Minns, M.D., KUSM-W dean. "Given the cost of medical education, scholarship support is very critical for our students, especially those interested in primary care or rural medicine. Dr. Patel has been a steadfast health care provider in southeast Kansas, and we believe the Patel scholarship will help us continue to provide future generations of physicians for the region and our state."
Born in India, the Patels immigrated to the United States for Dr. Patel's orthopaedic surgery residency at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, New York, before moving his young family to Independence, Kansas, to establish an orthopaedic surgery practice. With two young daughters, Archita and Neepa, and a son, Om, born shortly thereafter, the Patels recognized the benefits of bringing up a family in a small town with good schools and a strong sense of community.
"Both Independence and Kansas are a part of our family's identity. We formed hundreds of friendships in Kansas, and I treated thousands of patients during my 30 years in the area," said Dr. Patel. "When we lived in Independence, there were about 11,000 people and 14 physicians. Now there aren't any physicians and the hospital has closed. My hope is that we can help students get a quality medical education, but that we also can bring physicians back to this region - back to their roots - to stop rural communities from getting left behind.
"This endowment is my way of giving back to this community - my home," he continued. "I want medical students in southeast Kansas to see the opportunities that rural and community medicine can provide, and know that they can achieve their dreams in smaller communities."
Additional support to Independence includes a scholarship endowed by Dr. Patel: the C. M. Patel Scholarship at Independence High School benefiting its graduating seniors.
Orthopaedic surgery is a true passion for Dr. Patel and as a part of his practice, he was a volunteer faculty member of KUSM-W. Outside of his professional practice, he has performed volunteer mission trips to Bhutan and Guyana to perform knee-replacements and other life-changing orthopaedic surgeries. He regularly goes back to India to provide care as well.
"I chose orthopaedic surgery because of the positive impact on people's lives," he said. "It was rewarding to see my patients go from using wheelchairs to being able to walk. Their lives were changed and I was a part of that."
All three of the Patel children graduated from Independence High School and continued their education.
Om is following in his father's footsteps and is a fourth-year resident in KUSM-W Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Program after receiving a Bachelor in Civil Engineering degree from the University of Texas-Austin and his Medical Doctorate from the University of Texas-San Antonio. Om's wife, Ami, recently completed her MBA at Wichita State University and works at Via Christi Hospital.
The Patels' eldest daughter, Archita, graduated from Johns Hopkins University and received a Master of Health Administration degree and Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan and now works in health care strategy in Chicago, Illinois.
Middle daughter, Neepa, has developmental delays, Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy, but has benefited throughout her life from excellent medical care in Wichita and in southeast Kansas, and now continues her education at the MyPossibilities School in Plano, Texas.
"My father's hope is for this endowment to help fund aspiring physicians in rural Kansas to achieve their dreams," said Om. "Specifically, he is hoping to encourage southeast Kansas residents to pursue a career in medicine and return to practice in deserving rural communities such as Independence, which was his hometown for 30 years."
The Patels relocated to Dallas, Texas, in 2012. Virendra currently practices at Comprehensive Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation in Richardson, Texas.KU School of Medicine-Wichita