I always knew I wanted to be a doctor, and as my medical education progressed, I found my true love - pediatric anesthesia.
I trained in anesthesia in Delhi, at AIIMS, before moving to Chandigarh, where I joined PGIMER (Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research) as a faculty member, 25 years ago. Through PGIMER, I got the chance to work with patients from a number of states, including Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and sometimes even from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Our advanced facilities also result in patients from a wide socio-economic range of backgrounds visiting us for treatment.
Since I worked in pediatric anesthesia, I spent a lot of time in the operation theatre with plastic surgeons who operated on children with clefts. Some of these surgeons were Smile Train partners, and that’s how I initially found out about the organization. The partnership came about organically; Smile Train appealed to me because I had met many patients in the past who could not afford cleft surgeries. By associating myself with Smile Train, I got a chance to bring cleft treatment to so many more patients, and the satisfaction of doing that is incomparable. It’s been seven years since I joined the Smile Train family, and I have lost count of how many surgeries I’ve been a part of with their support!
I love the proactive nature of Smile Train when it comes to training their partner doctors and nurses with the latest medical practices. Around three years ago, they conducted a training course in PGIMER for the nurses, which was very useful. Most people forget that nurses are the ones largely handling children’s care before and after the surgery - so training them constantly is important. Another memorable workshop we had a few years ago was conducted by Dr Rebecca Jacob. This was on anesthetic techniques for cleft patients, including how to prevent, detect, and manage problems that could occur during surgery. Now, some of us have decided to carry that forward by conducting similar workshops for nurses and doctors in our regions. We are sure that it will go a long way in improving the quality of healthcare in our country.
While it has been a long journey to become an anesthetist, I must say that I am living my dream. From my childhood, my family was extremely supportive. Though we were a single income household with four siblings, my parents ensured that they put our education above all else. Later in life, I married an anesthetist who also happens to be a Smile Train partner! Everybody faces challenges in achieving their dreams, but my advice would be to find something that you love. It becomes a little easier to work towards that goal, and to overcome the hurdles that may come your way.
As shared by Dr Sandhya Yaddanapudi, a Smile Train partner doctor at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh.