Nehali D. Patel, MD, director in the Infectious Diseases Clinic, says her mother and father modeled being of service to others and played a key role in her decision to pursue medicine. This is part of an ongoing series.

Who instilled your value of helping others?

Helping others in need was always important in my family. My father played a key role in my decision to pursue medicine. He was a very generous and kind person who felt that people should give the most they could to others’ well-being. Both my parents modeled being of service to others, especially those in need. They taught me to be aware and grateful for what I had rather than what I wanted and that there are always others who have less.

What have you learned about yourself and your peers that you carry with you today?

I work as the director of clinical services for the infectious disease clinic. There, I provide comprehensive care to HIV-infected infants and children in Shelby County and the surrounding area. At times, the work can become emotionally and psychologically draining. A chance meeting with an infectious diseases colleague made me realize that women have the ability both to support each other emotionally through difficult times at work but also help each other succeed.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

You don’t always have to have all the answers. Life brings you opportunities when you least expect them and while they might take you on a path you didn’t plan for, you will learn a lot and benefit from taking them. Don’t always play it safe!