Dr. Patil is a Professor of Pediatrics at ACH/UAMS, and the Director of the Division of General Pediatrics. As a medical student, you have probably seen her through your Practice of Medicine course for which she is the current Course Director. She went to medical school in India and completed her residency at UAMS/ACH. Hear about her journey through medicine and how she was able to combine her interests in medicine and teaching by becoming an educator in addition to a clinician, while also integrating her interests outside of the hospital, from being a tennis and plant mom, to being involved with the community through dancing and fundraising. We also discuss the differences in education systems in the U.S. vs India as well as the unique challenges pediatricians face when providing care for their patients.
Manasa: It’s Mentor Spotlight, the UAMS student-made podcast to help our medical students connect with faculty mentors. This is Manasa.
Weijia: And Weijia
Manasa: And today, we are excited to have a conversation with Dr. Sowmya Patil, a pediatrician with Arkansas Children’s Hospital and UAMS. She’s a professor as well as a Director and Section Chief for General Pediatrics here.
Weijia: Dr. Patil started out for medical training in India and completed her residency right here in Little Rock. She has continued to stay involved with the Department of Pediatrics as well as both medical student education, serving as the course director of our Practice of Medicine II course. She is beloved by her residents and students, and we cannot wait for you guys to meet her so let’s get started.
Manasa: Hello Dr. Patil. How are you?
Dr. Patil: Good? Hello, Manasa! Hello, Weijia!
Weijia: Hi! Thank you, guys. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Dr. Patil: My pleasure.
Weijia: Can we start off with just you telling us a little more about yourself?
Dr. Patil: Sure. So I am Sowmya Patil. I am a pediatrician here, as you all said, and it has, it was my dream to be a pediatrician. So right… since I was seven years old, I’ve always wanted to be a pediatrician. And so, I’m born in India and grew up in India. Did my medical school in India. And so the medical school system is very different in India from here. So later on, I didn’t know it was preparing me to be a medical student director one day… but so I did my medical school in India, and then got married to my husband, who was at that time doing his masters in gerontology here in Little Rock at UALR. So we met via a matchmaking – it’s not a website. It is like place in India – like my aunt knew his mom. So they knew that we were available to get married. I guess it’s a very different concept for the generation now – it was an arranged marriage for us. It was not a love marriage, like everybody here now finds their own peer mate. So he was doing his masters in genealogy at that time here. He is also a physician, but at that time, he was doing gerontology. And so we kind of met, and I came here after I got married and finished my medical school, and I just came straight to Little Rock. I did not go to any other city, but just came to Little Rock, and as he was completing his masters in gerontology, I was doing my USMLE steps, and clinical skills and everything to get prepared for pediatrics residency, and I was also doing my observership at that time, in Little Rock at Children’s Hospital and got to work with many many beautiful mentors and wonderful people who just, you know, fueled that passion, and of pediatrics, in me more and so, and this was a great hospital, and is a great hospital to train. So, did my observerships, did my USMLEs here and then applied for residency, hoping that I would match here, and thankfully I did. And that started my residence journey over here, and 2004, I started my residency until 2007. And during that time, my husband also matched into internal medicine here, and so he was at UAMS doing his internal medicine residency.
Residency was difficult, but great, and I love this place so much that I stayed on as a faculty member in general pediatrics. In 2007, July, I started as a faculty here, and also, as I said, I was, I had always dreamed to be a pediatrician, but I also dreamed to be a teacher, so my mother used to always ask me how can you be a teacher, and a doctor at the same time? I’d say that I don’t know, but I will figure it out- and so I had always a passion to be an educator. So when I started as a faculty here, I started as a clinical educator. So we have different tracks. We can be a clinician. Pure clinician. You can be a researcher or an educator. So there are three tracks for every faculty here. So I started as a clinical educator, and I was got in board on resident education here, to start with, and then Dr. Tariq was a friend of mine. Dr. Sara Tariq, and they had an opening, for POM for around 2014, when ICM was kind of changing to POM at that time, and one of her co-directors left – she was also pediatrician, she was my colleague, actually. And she was leaving to go back to Houston, and at that time they asked me if I would take on POM, and I was like “Yes! I want to teach so I’ll do it!” So I took over POM in 2014 as an educator, and continued my education as a pediatrician educated as pediatrician here for the pediatrics residency. And that’s how it all started. I was a clinician. I was an educator – so I could be a doctor and a teacher at the same time.
Manasa: Hey, you found your own pathway.
Dr. Patil: I did find my own pathway, and very grateful that I could accomplish both my dreams. Of being a doctor as well as a teacher.
Weijia: And I just wanna say, I have genuinely, really enjoyed POM 2 this year. I feel like I’m learning a lot of relevant clinical skills.
Dr. Patil: I appreciate that. Thank you so much, and thank you – you probably made my day.
Manasa: So if you had to name all the job titles that you hold, we kind of mentioned them already, but can you tell us what they are, and then what they entail in terms of the clinical duties that you hold, but also the administrative sides and I guess what that how does your typical week look like.
Dr. Patil: Got it. wow! That’s a very broad question and very difficult question. But I will try to be as relevant as possible. So when I started as a student faculty, I told you there are different tracks like clinical educator tracks and an attending track. So I started on an educator track. I started as a clinical instructor in the Department of Pediatrics. So that was my first title ever as a clinical instructor, and then got promoted to Assistant Professor. Now they don’t have clinical instructor positions anymore. They start as an Assistant Professor. So I actually spent three years as a clinical instructor and as an assistant professor, also in general pediatrics. You know, I started working more with residency education. So I became the Outpatient Residency Medical Director for out-patient curriculum at that time. And that was not a title. I just gave that title to myself at that time, because we were really in the infancy of starting the curriculum for residents, and so forth. And with that I developed a lot of curriculum, and so forth. So I just kinda took over that title for myself. Then got promoted to Associate Professor at the same time I took over as POM co-course director, so I was an associate professor of Pediatrics here, and co-course director of Practice of Medicine team. And as co-course director of Practice of Medicine 2, I was helping the Dr. Tariq at that time develop the curriculum for practice of medicine, teach physical exam skills, teach the art of medicine, and so forth. That’s kind of what that entailed. Five years as an Associate Professor, and then I got promoted. I just, from Assistant Professor, I got promoted to Associate Professor after five years. And after two years of being a co-course director for POM 2, I became the course director when Dr. Tariq left POM 2. So being a course director for POM 2 is not only teaching, but education, but also a lot of administrative stuff. You know. Coordination of the curriculum, coordination with other course directors, and trying to make schedules, trying to reserve rooms and all those kind of things to have the coordinator as well. So that was my POM 2 side. As an associate professor here, I also started developing curriculums for the pediatrics residents, so increase their morning reports, didactics, or pediatric out-patient curriculum. Developed a lot of lectures for them, and then also started the first simulation course for the pediatric residents here, for physician and patient communication, so communication is my biggest passion. I love to learn communication, and teach communication. So how do you, you know, be good at a patient-physician relationship? How do you develop that rapport, and how do you go from a good doctor to a great doctor? Those are some of the skills that you know I love to learn and teach. And so that’s why I started a simulation course here, and I think that is one of the first kind of communication simulation for a residency program in the country, I think. So I looked up other places but they didn’t have a simulation course, so I learned how to do simulation as well, and I became the director for the simulation for out-patient.
At the same time, I also became the Medical Director for the teaching clinic for the pediatrics residents in our Circle of Friends Clinic. We have the continuity clinic and the teaching clinic, and so I became the director for the teaching clinic. And again, that has administrative roles and teaching roles.
So that was Associate Professor and course director for my POM 2 course. Then I took over as Medical Director, and simulation, and all of that. Continued to be the course director, and I’m still the course director for POM 2. And this last past year, I was promoted to Professor of Pediatrics. Before that, in 2019, I was asked to take over as Chief of General Pediatrics, section chief. So I became a Section Chief of General Pediatrics. And I’m the section chief right now. So what that entails is I have 21 providers who I supervise, who are M.D.s and APRNs. We have three clinics, the general pediatric clinic in the Sturgis Building, and the Circle of Friends Clinic, which has two separate clinics, continuity and teaching. So I take care of 21 providers, three clinics, lots of residents, lots of students who kind of go through that. Lot of administrative, operations of the clinic and so forth. So currently I am a Professor of Pediatrics, Section Chief of General Pediatrics, and Course Director for Practice of Medicine. So those are all my titles and I did lots of things. And in between. I don’t know when I became the course director for the pediatrics M4 clerkship on the pediatrics side, I became the course director for the M4 longitudinal POM 2 rotation for the medical students. So again, those are all other titles that I hold for education and administrative.
So my typical week, I do three clinics, continuity clinic and teaching clinic. So I’m only in the teaching side, and the general pediatrics clinic in the Sturgis Building is only run by the providers- we do not have residents or students there. So three days of clinic- I mean not three days but three clinics. And then one and a half days of POM, and then two and a half days of administrative stuff as section chief. So that’s my week. It can change if we are short of people to take care of residents. I do more clinics. If we had to do an extra POM lecture. Sometimes, on my administrative day I do a POM lecture. So it kind of just varies. And then I, also in between asked to be the chief of adolescent medicine. So I did that for a year and a half. And now we have a new chief. So I was just babysitting that. So I was an interim. So, yeah, these are my roles, and that is my week. Very busy.
Manasa: Yeah. So many roles.
Dr. Patil: Yeah.
Weijia: It sounds like you have a successful career.
Dr. Patil: I do, and I’m very grateful for that. I never take anything for granted, because anything can change at any time. I’m kind of a person who gives 100% to anything I do. So now it’s kind of difficult to give 100% to everything. But I try my best.
Weijia: So this might be silly, but do you get to see patients, or are you mostly just working with students and residents?
Dr. Patil: I do get to see patients. I do work with students and residents, but I have to see the patients with them. So I do see patients with them, and I also have a huge panel of patients whom I see personally as well. So I take care of a lot of residents’ kids, students’ kids, nurses’ kids, other faculty kids as well. So I do see them personally, but whenever a student and resident is there in clinic, I have to see the patient with them as well. So, I do see patients, yes. And that’s one of the things I love. I love seeing patients, and I never want to give that part up.
Weijia: Yeah. What do you think would make someone a great good pediatrician? Like what qualities do you think is important?
Dr. Patil: I think it’s the same thing as every physician needs good qualities. I think good communication skills, but what a good pediatrician needs is a lot of patience and empathy because parents, it’s very difficult to be a parent. I think that the most difficult profession ever is to be a parent. So a physician or a pediatrician to understand the parents, they have to have that empathy to get into their shoes, so a pediatrician definitely needs to have a lot of patience, and a lot of empathy. And to get down to the child’s level- if you have a four year old, talk to them like a four year old, and don’t talk to them like a 15 year old. And for a 15 year old, if you talk to them like a four year old, they’re going to be like what is she talking about, you know, I I don’t want to talk to her. So that is kind of the skill that you need to have is how to be a four year old, how to be a 15 year old, and how to talk to parents like a parent, or like a doctor, and not a child. So yes, empathy, patience, and the skill to talk at their level is very important for a pediatrician.
Manasa: So if we had to ask you about your passions within pediatrics, or within teaching specifically or within research. Are you involved with research, or any specific things other than- I know you’ve talked about POM education and teaching- but any specific topics within that as well.
Dr. Patil: I can answer the research question. I am not a researcher. I don’t know how to do research and I don’t think I like research because I think the research people need to have that specific skill to be interested in so many things. But focus on one thing, you know, I don’t think I have this skill – that part of my brain is not developed I think haha. So I do not do research, but definitely in awe of researchers who do so many good things for us. The particular specific thing, and within education is, I’m a passionate educator. Everything and anything. I find something to teach, and I love to learn and teach. But communication skills is my passion. I firmly believe that communication and good communication skills is makes or breaks any relationship – and that might be a physician, patient or peer-to-peer, student to a teacher, or even your personal relationships. So communication skills is something that I really emphasize on me. Reinforce and try to teach my residents and students. So that is kind of my passion is communication skills.
Manasa: Yeah. In terms of your passions outside the hospital then, what are you involved with outside the clinical duties that you do. And how do you relax outside of the hospital?
Dr. Patil: You won’t like this answer, but it’s very difficult for me to relax, because I am on the go all the time. But yeah, few things I have found outside of work is I have two wonderful kids – a 16 year old and a 12 year old – and they are competitive tennis players, so I’m a tennis mom. If I’m not a doctor, I’m not a teacher, I’m a tennis mom. So we travel a lot for tennis, we are on the course a whole lot for tennis. So tennis is my- ! I don’t play tennis. I’ve never held a racket in my life, but I love to see my kids play tennis, and the competitive spirit that they have. Actually we are travelling to Dallas this weekend for a tournament. So we travel a whole lot for tennis as well. So. Yes, watching my kids play tennis and being a tennis mom is the greatest pleasure I have. Apart from that, I love gardening. Spring and summer is my favorite time, because I love to grow vegetables. I have a kitchen garden. I love talking to plants. I talked to plants – I don’t know, that might be silly, but I feel that they are living too, and I love talking to plants so I love gardening. And then I love dance. I love any kind of dance. I watch a lot of dance shows. Pre-covid. I used to participate in one dance every year. And I’m involved with a lot of other cultural organizations outside of work. Lots of Indian organizations that we have lots of festivals and lots of months that probably, you know, we have lots of festivals and lots of events, and so forth. So there’s always a cultural program that I participate in. And so I love to dance. And teach dance.
Manasa: I think many of our students, past and probably future ones, will see you help out with the Harmony fundraiser, and your performances through there.
Dr. Patil: Yes, I have performed at Harmony multiple times, and so it’s a pleasure. I’m growing old now so maybe I’m not that agile, but I still love dance.
Manasa: It’s the passion..
Dr. Patil: It is the passion for sure, yeah.
Weijia: I would love to see that some day.
Dr. Patil: Sure. We can start some music now and dance.
Weijia: So, speaking of your culture, how is maybe the Indian medical system different from the US’s? Do you think there’s anything that the US could learn from India, or vice versa? Yes, they are very different, very different, because the way I was taught and it’s not only the Indian medical system, I think I think the whole learning and teaching has changed, the paradigm has changed. Students these days learn a very different way than how we used to learn. Like I was saying, the medical school culture there is very different. What I like about, let me start with what I like about the American medical system- I think it’s more practical. It’s more real life. What you need to learn to take care of a patient. So I think it’s more practical, and hands on. The way we learnt back in India, it’s very granular, they just go to every line of the textbook. I mean, I read the whole textbook of every subject, by the time I finished my medical school, because they will ask you the most fine print questions on your test. So we had to, things that maybe not, we use very rarely in our everyday life, you know. So it’s very theoretical.
I know now it has changed to become more practical, too. So it’s a lot of theory that we learn theoretically. And then the practical applications of that is very straight, like, you know. It was a culture shock for me when I started my residency here because every time a professor or an attending used to walk in, I used to stand up, when I was a resident here. And that’s how we are taught back in medical school over there, right, anytime there is a professor or a teacher in front of you, nobody sits. We’re all standing, right, and so it was very straight. We used to know, about all the disease about everything, everything that is in textbook. If we did not answer, we used to be yelled at in front of everybody, and so that was the culture that I came from. I don’t think that’s a right way to teach, because you’re so scared all the time, and… but I thank my teachers who taught me that way because I know how to be a doctor now. There were no shortcuts that we took. But the system here as I said is more practical, and it’s more customized to the student. Right. If the student doesn’t like something, they change it. So there has to be a balance between the two. I think that is midway that we can come. That was very stringent with how we learned–it should not be like that–but it should not be as lax as it is now, too, because medical profession is a difficult profession. Anybody who comes to a medical profession needs to know that their journey is going to be long. Their journey is going to be hectic, and they going to miss out on many life events as a doctor. So knowing that, or the knowledge of that, is important as we go through our medical school journey, and not whine and grip – okay, I can’t come to this because I have to go here, and I can’t do this. I can’t do that. Or on the other side, when there was a medical school in India, we were so scared. Why don’t you allow me to sit down? What is wrong? You need to allow me to sit down and I would have been more engaged, you know.
So there are different things. But I’m grateful for what I learned. Could have been a different approach. But that has made me a stronger doctor, but I also see that nowadays the students are more practical and enthusiastic, more about doing different things and not going in the same direction, like one direction. Everybody’s chasing one direction. Now everybody wants to branch out, do different things. So that’s great. So I had to unlearn how I was taught to teach, so it was a new way of teaching for me, so I had to unlearn and then learn again, according to what students needed now. So.
Weijia: That’s almost the opposite of what we’re taught. Because we’re always told Oh, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to be wrong, and from what you heard, it seems like being wrong in India, it’s like… one of the worst things ever…
Dr. Patil: Oh, it is one of the worst things that can happen.
Weijia: Oh wow
Dr. Patil: We were scared to ask questions. That’s why I said. I don’t think. –
Weijia: We are scared too, haha.
Dr. Patil: But you know, I think it is very good now a days that if you think it’s wrong, or if you, they’re not as hesitant to ask questions these days, sometimes I feel oh, my gosh! If I was in the students place, I could have never dared to ask for my teacher that question. But, I feel good now that students are asking that, because it’s always good- I always say no question is a stupid question. If you don’t know something, clarify, you know.
But we were so scared when I was a medical student but if you just ask a question, you really don’t know this and that’s why you’re asking me, I’m like, yes, I don’t know that I’m asking you -you should know this, I mean we felt, made to feel very small, that you don’t know this kind of thing, but I guess that was a way of teaching there, which I don’t endorse worse at all. But I guess because of that I was always alert and read everything, and studied everything, and I was always like on task, you know. But. It’s different. Yeah. But again, never hesitate to ask questions, always ask questions, because at the end of the day, you, the knowledge you gain, especially in medical school, it’s going to be used on a patient. So it’s always good to be clear and clarify things, and no questions is a stupid question. For sure.
Weijia: Do you have any other advice? For you know either med students or students wanting to be pediatrician in the future.
Dr. Patil: In general, I would tell all med students keep an open mind. Every day, come with an open mind to learn. Cause every patient you meet, you learn from your peers, you learn from your patient, you learn from your teachers, you learn from each other. You are always learning, after so many years of practice, I learn every day from my patients. I learn from my residents and students. I’m like, wow, that’s such a great way of thinking over something, you know. Cause I’m so, we are so, used to thinking in a certain way, we have done this for 20 years, and I’m like, Okay, I know how to do this. And this has worked for me. I’ll do. But then suddenly a student comes and says, I do it this way. Why not this way? I’m like, yes, that is such a great idea. Yeah. And that’s why I like teaching, is because I always learned from everybody. Come with an open mind. And do not shy to learn. Do not hesitate to ask questions and learn because there is so much to learn out there. And half the things you learn in medical school, you forget.
Dr. Patil: You will forget haha! Cause as you start branching out into a particular interest of yours, like a anesthesiology or cardiology, whatever, you won’t remember the Krebs Cycle. I can never remember the Krebs Cycle. That’s one thing I can never remember. But what I’m saying is, yes, keep an open mind. Learn, for all med students. And in pediatrics, as I said, have that patience and empathy, you really needed. You really need it. Yeah, and have children! So that you can be a better pediatrician.
Manasa: I guess if someone is interested in pediatrics, you’ve stayed general pediatrician. But how would you describe the different fellowships available to them? And how they can make the decision of whether they should or shouldn’t pursue a fellowship? And what would be best, and for their interests, but also their career interests?
Dr. Patil: Sure. Yes, there are many pediatric fellowships. And again, if this is something very personal that everybody decides on whether to go to fellowship or not, and to each his own, you know. I decided to say stay general pediatrics, but I wanted to be a neonatologist. I really wanted to be an neonatologyist because I love babies. I love my nursery rotation, and the NICU rotation here. But then life changed for me, because when I had my daughter, I wanted to be a mom. And you know, and I wanted to have regular hours, I wanted to work Monday to Friday, I did not want to work on weekends. I didn’t want to be on overnight calls, because it changed that I wanted to be mom also along with being a doctor. So at that time I was like, you know what I could do general pediatrics. I could see all, I could see babies as a general pediatrician, and if later on, I want to be a nursery and a general pediatrician, I can work in a nursery also. And I want to have normal hours in a day. That was my priority. Having normal hours in a day, not to take overnight calls, to be free on my weekends for my kids, and that’s when I chose general pediatrics. So I was actually between general pediatrics and neonatology. No other specialty interested me as much. So that is why I decided to be a general pediatrician is because I wanted normal hours, and I wanted to be a mom as well, and I knew that being a sub-specialist would take more time away from my family for me. So I wanted to balance both.
But there are many fellowships, or if you’re interested in, for example, allergy and immunology. It’s a great fellowship to have a good work like balance as well. Right, but then you follow your passion. Okay, if your passion is cardiology, if your passion is neonatology, and you think you can do it, and 10 years from now, you’ll not regret that decision, do it! So that’s how, and if you want to do a fellowship and it’s three more years of training. So, are you ready commit yourself to three more years of training after a general pediatrics residency? If that’s yes, is an answer, and you are going to accept the consequence of training for another three years, go for it. Okay, so follow your passion. Make sure what your priorities are. Like for me, I wanted to be mom as well as a teacher as well as a doctor. So what was the right balance for me at that time was going into general pediatrics.
There are lots of fellowships here. If students want to, are interested in an allergy fellowship, or a cardiology, neonatology. There’s a very good peds honors program, that you know, starting in your first year, you can apply for it, and you can, you’re assigned to a preceptor or a faculty here that you can do a project with in your area of interest. And so that’s a good way of starting out. Doing rotations or observerships with anybody in the field of your choice within some specialty like a peds cards, peds pulmonology, peds GI, during your summer break, or something, if you want to do observership, that’s another great way of getting more insight into what they do. Or when you start your third year clerkships, right? You rotate through all the rotations, and figuring out, what’s best for you. I have had many students who wanted to be a cardiologist, but at the end of, or wanted to do internal medicine. And, by the end of their rotations, turned out to be a pediatrician. I want to do pediatrics. Or started off as pediatrics and went into OBGYN. You know, so things change. But again, talk to many faculty. Introduce yourself to people, that area that you want to work in. Right, talk to them, shadow them, learn from them. So that’s how I would say.
Weijia: Oh, what is your favorite part about being a pediatrician? And your least favorite part about being a pediatrician.
Dr. Patil: [Laughs.] Favorite part is the kids, for sure. I love precocious four year-olds and five year-olds. I can chat with them the whole day. I mean, the satisfaction and the fulfillment I get out of talking to these kids. About their day. About the small things, and then they’re so happy, you know, with the small things – the one cartoon character, or one toy they have. I love that happiness and satisfaction that they have. I always want to be like them. So those 10 minutes, 15 minutes I spend with them. I become them, or I become like them. So that’s the best part of being a pediatrician.
The worst part are the parents. I wouldn’t say the worst part, but it’s challenging, because the parents, like mom, dad, this is what you need to do, right? This is what will help you. No, I don’t want to do this. I want to do this! Or trying to change them, change their mindset. And to reassure them. There are many things in pediatrics where we don’t do anything. We just wait and watch. So how do you tell a parent, “Just wait and watch your kids suffer,” right? It’s a viral infection, it’s going to be there for five days. Watch them, they will go away.
So trying to deal with the parents is challenging in pediatrics. I wouldn’t say it’s my least favorite, but that is the most challenging part for me, is, and that’s why I won’t like being an adult doctor, because that’s going to be my everyday life. Yeah, but at the same time, once you try to be on the same page, or convince and reason with the parents, because it is for their kids, they will do it unlike adults who will never listen to you, I guess, I don’t know. But yeah. That’s the most challenging part. Ah, but for the most part, I can talk to them, play with that, and then give it back to the parents. I don’t have to take it home.
Weijia: One of our friends who wants to be a pediatrician always says kids are the only humans she approve of. And I think..
Dr. Patil: I want to meet that person, because I totally agree with that. Yes, they are the only humans I will approve of. But then, when they become 17 and 18.. Ugh
Weijia: They’re not kids anymore. They’re teenagers.
Dr. Patil: Yeah, that’s a different story. For another day. That’s challenging, too.
Manasa: Each age group has its own challenges and yes, mindset, like you were saying earlier…
Dr. Patil: Yes absolutely, and there is no other h- creature like a teenager. I would say they are so different. And I think I feel that the least understood too. Everybody’s like. Oh, teenager! You know, that kind of. But they can, they’re challenging. They’re different. They are weird creatures.
Weijia: Different is a way–
Dr. Patil: I have one at home right now so living through it.
Weijia: I’m praying for you.
Dr. Patil: No, she’s a good kid, but you know a teenager is teenager. Hormones all over the place, that’s a teenager.
Weijia: And they eat so much!
Dr. Patil: That too, haha.
Manasa: Umm so we’ll shift the gears a little bit as well towards your concept of future and things that you want to see you change in health care specifically. So, one of the big questions we have for you is, what are you working towards in your career? But you’ve come a long way already. But if you have a five-year plan or 10-year plan, or like the big things for the rest of your career that you wanna achieve.
Dr. Patil: Yeah. It’s. It’s a very broad question at this time of the, at this time that age that we are living in right now is constantly changing. So I cannot predict five years from now what I feel now will be the same thing, because I think COVID has changed everything. What I mean by that is, COVID has changed the way we have to think about stuff. What is true today is not true tomorrow, right? So with that in mind, I would still say that what I want to change, the health care to go towards, is to become more patient-centric, to have more, could like, it should be a team effort. It should not be just a doctor telling them what to do. It should be a collaborative patient centered medical home kind of a concept. Patients are in board as well as the doctor, other ancillary people support staff that we need for them, resources, community, right? It should be like patient centric, so should be like a medical mode for the patient. So, because there’s so many social determinants of health right now that play in a patient’s life, it’s not just hypertension – give them hypertension medications. Right? Okay, it’s hypertension. Why are you having hypertension? Is it because of your diet? Is it because of your stress? Is it because of your job? Okay? You have hypertension – do you have the resources to get your medications? Do you have insurance? Do you have transportation to get to hospital if you’re in any kind of emergency? Alright. Do you have support? Do you have the education and the resources to decrease your weight, if that is what is causing your hypertension? So what I meant to say for that example is, if there’s a lot of things that plays into a patient’s life which can impact their health. So, a completely utopian world would be-Yes, we have all the resources to give for this patient to feel good that they can get to that place. Alright. So that’s what I’m hoping for. Health care move it. And I think health care is moving towards that, but I just said, COVID changed everything. We have a serious work force shortage everywhere. So how do you develop that resources and workforce? And when the patient leaves your office, you know that what you have done for them is not just given medication, but helped that patient not come back again with a serious problem, right? Are you having that impact on a patient’s life? And for that it means a team effort, a collaborative effort. And that’s where I want medicine to go to.
Weijia: What do you think are maybe some major obstacles that’s hindering the medical system from becoming, you know, more holistic?
Dr. Patil: It’s a lot of the inequities that we see in our population. Some are able to get the resource, someone not able to get the resources. The education background. The environment that they are living in. The information that they’re exposed to. But they don’t have the knowledge to analyze it and use it, right. Social media is everywhere now, and so it is. That is, a major obstacle that there is so much information out there. But you don’t, everybody doesn’t know how to use it, and there’s a lot, because of that, there’s a lot of inequities that we have to face. And because of those inequities, everybody cannot get to the same outcome that they deserve. Or we want them to have. So that is one of the biggest barriers, for sure. Information explosion without, how should I say this. Without the right education to analyze it, and what is good out of it.
I don’t know if that answered your question.
Weijia: Oh, yes, it did.
Manasa: Okay, so one of the things that we learn about in POM as well related to pediatrics specifically, are ACEs and how kids exposed to all these different life circumstances can lead to effects later on in their lives. So I guess working in pediatrics, specifically, so many social issues do play a role into how children are raised. And when I was doing my pediatrics rotation, one of the most difficult things for me to see is, like you were saying, if you don’t agree with a patient’s parents, and how they’re maybe interacting with the child. Or whenever you see them growing up through their different visits, knowing that there might be something that needs to change. But that you cannot force them to change. So I guess, how do you reconcile that as a pediatrician that wants to do what’s best for the patients, but also knowing that you have to give autonomy to the parents that are—
Dr. Patil: You have to always give autonomy to the parents because parents live with the patient, parents know them better than you do, because they are there. But at the same time, that’s where communication skills come into play, right? How well do you communicate with the parent that we both, as a team, can help your child. We both have to be on the same page. As much as I want to help your child, if I don’t see you want to help your child, then we’re not going to get anywhere. So to maximize the potential of success for this child, we have to meet halfway, you know. So it is very challenging sometimes, because again, I go back to level of education. Our parents are not very well educated, right? Their level of education is, and that is, this is like national, that the level of education of our patients, adult patients or parents, is at the fifth grade level. Okay, that is kind of the average. So how do you reason with a fifth grade knowledge, right? That is very difficult. So to answer your question. It is challenging sometimes. Sometimes, we are helpless. We cannot do anything because parents are not meeting us halfway there, right. And at those times, if we know the patient is in danger, we will have to make a DHS report. We’ll have to take the patient away from the parent which is the last thing we want to do. But yes, if he had, has to go to that level, we had to do it. But most of the time, if you sit down, talk to them and reason with them, I think they’ll meet you halfway. Again, what are their preferences? What are their values? I’ve read the textbook, so I know what to do, but if you’re standing there and trying to preach – “this is what I’m going to do, this is what I’m going to do, this is what I’m going to”- the parents are not listening to you because they are not involved in a shared decision-making. It’s not a shared decision-making, so always remembering that it should be a shared decision, trying to meet halfway, figuring out what their beliefs are, what their values are, is very important. Most of the time, you will be successful. But there’ll be many times when you have to have to be helpless. And do the last ditch effort of trying to save that patient.
It’s difficult. Those are the times I go home, I go home many days feeling helpless. Yeah, if I win a Powerbowl, you know, the powerbowl. I would take all that money and make a house, or make a something to keep all these kids in that. Yeah. Because that’s where we are lagging. I want to take all these kids home with me, to take care of them, but not possible.
Weijia: Unfortunately. Alright, as we’re getting ready to wrap up. Is there anything else that you would like our listeners to know that we haven’t covered yet?
Dr. Patil: Let’s see. I think we covered most. I mean you tell me if we have not covered anything but… anybody who wants to do pediatrics, it’s a great field, it’s a wonderful field, and we are all here to help. Talk to any of us. I’m sure any faculty here in peds will be able to talk to anybody who’s interested and help them, and figure it out with them. So just contact us and you’re good to go!
Manasa: And then, if students want to contact you specifically to ask questions or shadow, or have you as a mentor, how can they reach out to you?
Dr. Patil: I’m there on the global email list. So they can contact me, or they can reach out to General Pediatrics office, and they know how to get in touch with me, and I I can help. I’ve had lots of advisees in the past who have all matched in pediatrics. So I had three advisees last year, and all of them matched into pediatrics, so I was very excited for them. So I’m here to help, anytime, any way I can.
Weijia: Alright. Well, thank you so much, Dr. Patil, for giving us your time and talking and sharing your life with us. And thank you for willing to be a mentor for our students.
Dr. Patil: 100%. I love to be help students with their Aha! moment that they have. You know. Like when I teach or when I see that, is that aha moment is the greatest reward for me, and I’ve invested in everybody’s success. So call me anytime. I’m happy to help.
All: Thank you!
Weijia: And if listeners, if you have any questions or comments or concerns, please reach out to us and let us know.