As a junior economics major at Columbia University in New York City, Dr. Naik realized he was pursuing the wrong career. “I had always wanted to be a physician”, the Rockwall native admits.
He completed his economics degree, but returned home and immediately began volunteering at Parkland Hospital. “I always liked the sciences and had an affinity for how the body works,” he adds, “but I wanted to make sure I was cut out to be a physician, so I also shadowed various doctors along with volunteering.”
The experiences confirmed his passion for medicine and sent Dr. Naik to the West Coast for a rigorous one-year program to complete his pre-med requirements. While he was there, he helped with cancer research at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. The study was published in a national journal with Naik listed as a co-author.
He also worked as a scribe in local emergency rooms while applying to medical school. “It was a great experience because you see every bit of medicine when you are in the ER,” Dr. Naik explains. “Most important, I saw the way all I doctors I shadowed used science every day to make a difference in people’s lives.”
It wasn’t until a stint in clinical research in lung cancer at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas while he was still in medical school that Dr. Naik realized he wanted to care for cancer patients. The experience deepened Dr. Naik’s appreciation of the field rooted in evidence-based medicine. “I like that it melds technology with a team-based care approach that allows physicians to be very hands-on while working closely with their patients.”
For the very personable Dr. Naik, helping patients cope with a cancer diagnosis is a good fit.
“I want to be with them each and every step of their cancer journey—because it is a journey,” he says. “And that means from day one, I want to get to know each person I treat. Each individual’s diagnosis is very unique and their treatment goals are unique. Radiation oncology is not a one-size-fits- all. During our initial visit, I take as much time as needed to explain everything carefully and answer all their questions. I want my patients to feel empowered to make informed decisions.”
That patient centered care is what attracted Dr. Naik to Texas Cancer Specialists.
“Working in a positive environment is so important,” he adds. “That’s what led me to Dr. Barker and his team. Every member is very motivated in their caregiver role, and that is very uplifting for the people who depend on us. The prospect of having radiation can be scary. A lot of emotions are going through patients’ heads. I like to dispel the myths that can make people anxious. The cutting-edge therapies that we use maximize the benefits of treatment while minimizing side effects. We work very diligently to make our patients comfortable, take care of their needs and minimize side effects.”
Dr. Naik earned his Doctorate in Medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center School of Medicine in San Antonio. He completed his residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston with integrated clinical training at MD Anderson Cancer Center and Houston Methodist Hospitals.
When he isn’t caring for patients, the avid Dallas Cowboys fan enjoys cheering for his favorite football team, visiting area museums, trying new restaurants, hiking, running and water sports.