Pioneer Spotlight - Dr. Richard Dhyanchand

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Pioneer Spotlight
May 9, 2014

Dr. Richard Dhyanchand is an assistant professor of biology. He is originally from Rockford, Ill. and attended Wheaton College where he received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics. After receiving his degree, he continued on to the University of Illinois at Chicago to study epidemiology and biostatistics, and then received his Master of Science degree and doctor of medicine degree at the American University of the Caribbean. This is his fourth year at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

You have a doctor of medicine degree rather than a doctor of philosophy degree, which is rare for higher-level educators. What made you turn towards education?
It’s kind of a round-a-bout thing. I always wanted to be a practicing physician. If you had asked me at the age of five what I wanted to be I would have said a physician. I have a lot of uncles and aunts who are physicians so I grew up around it. I went through medical school at the American University of the Caribbean in St. Martin. Sounds nice, but when you’re there for medical school it’s a whole lot different than going there for a vacation. Although I finished medical school, I am not licensed to be a physician. I had some things that interfered with my entering a residency program immediately, so when I was looking for jobs my wife recommended that I try to find something I could do with my MD rather than being a doctor. I ended up finding a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Pfizer and I enjoyed it, but I knew that wasn’t where I was meant to be. After Pfizer, I picked up teaching a couple classes at Rock Valley Community College in Rockford, Ill. and fell in love with the profession.

You have more than 70 advisees, most of them being pre-health students, does your MD help with your advising?
Advising is one of the really fun things about this job to me. There are definitely areas of advising that aren’t my strength but I can use my MD to advise pre-health students because it’s a natural thing for me, I’ve been through it and understand some of the things they’re going through.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
My wife and I have three children and we love to travel. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to multiple countries in Europe and Asia, and my parents were born and raised in India so I have a lot of family there who I like to visit. We’re planning a road trip to San Francisco, Calif. this summer with the kids. I also enjoy playing tennis. My wife and I actually went to Wimbledon on our honeymoon. I really just like a lot of things; it’s hard for me to find something I totally hate.

After traveling to multiple countries, what is your stance on students studying abroad?
I really encourage all of my advisees to study abroad. Going to medical school in St. Martin and doing clinical rotations in England immersed me into different cultures and it has impacted my life. I wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t for my education, which is why I encourage my students to study abroad. I’ve seen how it's changed people for the better and I want others to have the same successful experiences.

What brought you to UW-Platteville?
After teaching at Rock Valley Community College, I realized that teaching was where I wanted to be. I talked to my wife about applying for teaching jobs at four-year colleges and universities and I ended up applying to 60 different schools across the country and one of the first places to contact me about an interview was UW-Platteville. When I came in for the interview I knew I would like it here. It was great, exactly what I was looking for, especially the nature of the department. Also, the people in the department were not only people I could see myself working with but also developing friendships with and that was something I was really looking for and found at UW-Platteville.

Interview conducted by: Carly Willman, University Information and Communications.
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