Giving Family Medicine a New Meaning

July 29, 2022

By Cari Gold

Nadia (learner) and Scheel (faculty member) Nayar reflect on what it meant to them to be part of UIWSOM’s inaugural cohort together

Nadia (left) and Scheel (right) Nayar at Nadia's graduation“It’s the kind of thing we all dream about. Father and daughter working together, but this was father and daughter studying together. This was trying to learn together.”

Those are the words of Scheel Nayar, DO, associate professor and OB/GYN Clerkship Director at the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine (UIWSOM). Scheel’s daughter, Nadia Nayar, is a two-time graduate from UIWSOM. She first earned a Master of Biomedical Sciences and was later part of the school’s inaugural Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine graduating class.

Nadia grew up watching her father work as an obstetrician. She witnessed the long hours and hard cases, and was unsure if that lifestyle was for her. But the closer she came to starting a career, the more she realized she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and pursue a medical degree. Instead of turning her away from the profession, watching her father all those years ultimately helped prepare her for the grueling task ahead.

“I was able to see both the pros and the cons of a medical lifestyle in person from an early start,” said Nadia. “Unlike a lot of my peers who may have only seen the positives, the glory, the lifestyle, etc., I also saw the hardships, the long hours, the frustrating nights. I feel like his career helped me make a more educated decision to pursue a career in medicine.”

After being part of the UIWSOM MBS class and experiencing a faith-based medical program first-hand, Nadia knew she wanted to return as a student in the new DO program as well. Her father, who was working as a local site director tutoring medical students from various universities, was also interested in joining the UIWSOM family, but as a faculty member. To ensure Nadia was accepted based on her own merits, Scheel waited until she received her acceptance letter before submitting his own job application.

Scheel and Nadia enjoyed being at UIWSOM together, learning and helping the program grow. Although they were careful to ensure Nadia did not have any classes or tests with Scheel, they both liked having a familiar face at the school.

“We were all a tight-knit family and our faculty always supported us, but just to know that there was someone from my family who was watching out for me and would always have my back was comforting,” Nadia explained.

“Nadia went from being like any medical student in the first year – a little green behind the gills and growing up – to being a full-fledged physician who could look me square in my eyes and be able to give me a run for my money,” added Scheel. “That was a big deal, just to see her grow, see her go through the process. Every day there was something else to be proud of.”

Scheel was not surprised his daughter chose UIWSOM. Although he knew a startup medical school would be different, he also trusted that she was up for the challenge. He was excited to see Nadia be part of a new local cohort of medical professionals.

“UIWSOM is hoping to have a new generation of physicians who are going to practice locally,” commented Scheel. “With San Antonio being home for Nadia, and where she grew up, went to school, prepared for her medical school application … I think she would be a good fit as a local physician for the community.”

Nadia is currently doing her residency with CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi. Working within the faith-based CHRISTUS system has allowed Nadia a smooth transition from UIWSOM, and she is excelling in her chosen career. She was recently selected as her program’s Resident of the Year, an honor that is bestowed to one resident who exhibits dedication to providing the best patient care and a positive attitude.

“Being named Resident of the Year was an incredible honor,” shared Nadia. “To be told that I have a good bedside manner and patient dedication was incredibly humbling. I know it’s a little cliché to say, but I think everybody in residency deserves that kind of an award, because it is incredibly tough, and we all work so hard.”

Ultimately, being part of the inaugural UIWSOM cohort prepared Nadia for life as a resident. Although there were challenges throughout medical school, Nadia and Scheel were happy they faced them together.

“It was definitely exhilarating being part of the inaugural class and creating history,” concluded Nadia. “I think everybody – my classmates, my faculty – they all share the same sentiment. But for me, to be able to go through that with my dad and share that momentum with him was incredible.”

“It felt like, you know when you would hold your daughter’s hand and jump in the deep end … you take a deep breath and hope you both come out of it. It was that exhilarating feeling,” added Scheel.