Medical Student Who Wants to Specialize in Infectious Diseases Steps in to Assist with Coronavirus Response
Instead of taking a two-month break between medical school and residency training, Shanan Immel requested early graduation and has already begun helping the state’s response to the coronavirus epidemic.
Immel has met all the requirements to graduate from the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, foregoing the traditional commencement exercises so he can help staff a COVID-19 hotline that answers questions from health care providers and the public.
“I wanted to focus my remaining time in Arizona on helping the local health system deal with the pandemic, help take calls on the COVID-19 hotline and be involved with some other student initiatives that are in the works,” he said. “It is critical we use our time and knowledge to offset some of the burden on the health care system and get involved in fighting this pandemic.”
Immel will begin his internal medicine residency training in June at Tulane University in New Orleans. He already has begun to answer calls from the hotline, which receives 5,000 inquiries a day.
He was called to join the front lines because “every person chipping in is what will eventually turn this pandemic around, as well as more people following public health guidance to stop transmission. I'm honored to graduate early and play some small part in all this, and I wish I could do more.”
“I think this is just like the 1918 influenza pandemic or any war, and we need to divert as many resources as possible to this ‘war effort’ to bolster our health care system, keep people out of the hospital, protect our health care workers and stop the chain of transmission.”
Immel hopes to pursue a specialty as a parasitologist — one who studies parasites, their hosts and the relationships between them. His passion to pursue a career in infectious disease is a big reason he wanted to dedicate his time to stopping the virus.
“Because we are given the opportunity to choose to graduate early, I felt an obligation to help in whatever way I could before we are on the front lines as residents,” he said.
Immel’s family supported his decision as long as he could add something useful to the cause and stay safe. He grew up in Chandler, graduating from McClintock High School. For undergraduate, he attended the University of Arizona, where he studied microbiology.
About the College
Founded in 2007, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. By cultivating collaborative research locally and globally, the college accelerates discovery in a number of critical areas — including cancer, stroke, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular disease. Championed as a student-centric campus, the college has graduated 593 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,400 diverse faculty members. As the anchor to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, which is projected to have an economic impact of $3.1 billion by 2025, the college prides itself on engaging with the community, fostering education, inclusion, access and advocacy.