Vijay Nagpal

Vijay Nagpal
Emergency Department Medical Director

Bachelor of Arts in Music, UNC Charlotte (2009)
Doctor of Medicine, East Carolina University (2015)

“At what point do medicine and music actually intersect?”

Vijay Nagpal graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Minor in Biology. He attended the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, where he received his Doctor of Medicine in 2015. He completed his residency in emergency medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical center in July 2018. 

Vijay wrote the essay "From Practice Room to Trauma Bay" for the College of Arts + Architecture's 10th Year Anniversary about his experience combining music and medicine. Check it out, below. 

"As a UNC Charlotte graduate with a degree in music, I can wholeheartedly say that my unique pathway towards becoming an emergency medicine physician would not have come to fruition without the solid foundation I obtained within the walls of Robinson Hall.

I know, I know ... at what point do medicine and music actually intersect? How does anyone make the transition from the practice room to the trauma bay?

In the practice room, the notes on the pages on my music stand were meticulously planned and placed to form a well-thought-out musical idea. My goal was to conquer whatever piece was in front of me—if not for an upcoming concert, then at least to avoid disappointing my trumpet teacher during our weekly private lessons. The ability to spend hours on end in rehearsals,

Soon after my discharge from the hospital, I was consumed with learning as much as I could about what it would take to become a physician.

lessons, lectures, and all the other requirements to obtain a degree in music is an essential skill that one must have to make it through the program. I would later learn that this is also a skill shared by the successful medical student to make it through the grueling hours spent memorizing an astounding number of facts or working with patients in the hospital.

The summer after finishing my freshman year, I had the misfortune of being involved in a car accident while heading to the North Carolina coast with friends. My injuries were severe, and I found myself being flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte for evaluation by trauma surgeons and emergency physicians. I was terrified but also amazed at how a team of medical professionals could pull together to make decisions that ultimately save someone’s life.

Soon after my discharge from the hospital, I was consumed with learning as much as I could about what it would take to become a physician. Later that summer I met with Dr. Elizabeth Hanie, the pre-medicine advisor on campus, who would ultimately guide me through the process of getting into medical school. I still held a love for music and continued to work toward my goal of obtaining a degree in music. I had the opportunity to participate in Jazz Ensemble, Brass Quintet, Wind Ensemble, and Orchestra while learning the ins and outs of organic chemistry and physics. The next three years, I not only continued to grow as a musician, but as a person, through my experiences at UNC Charlotte. The rigorous coursework offered in the arts and the sciences taught me the time management skills that would make me a successful student and physician.

From an outsider’s perspective, a typical day for me as a doctor may sound entirely different from a typical day for me as an undergraduate music student, but from my perspective, I see many shared qualities. When a very sick patient arrives in the emergency department, I am tasked as a senior resident with playing a major part in the management of this patient. I depend on the team of doctors, nurses, and technicians to come together as an ensemble, to play their part in a large medical symphony. To be successful we must all be in tune with one another, always listening to everyone else in the room. In doing this, just like any other ensemble, we make music ... music that may ultimately save a life."

In 2018, we interviewed Vijay for The College of Arts + Architecture's 10 year anniversary. This is an excerpt from our digital publication, CoA+A Community