“We practice the best form of medicine which is modern and scientific and evidence-based. At the same time, we should not forget our traditional medicine and adopt the good things from our ancestors. After all, Charak and Susruta are fathers of medicine and surgery,” says eminent cardiologist Avinash Gupta, in an interview with Khusboo Agrahari for Education Post. Avinash Gupta is a practicing cardiologist in Lakewood, New Jersey since 1994. He owns his own medical practice where both he and his wife, Dr. Geeta Gupta (Internist) practice
Tell us something about your successful journey as an Indian practicing cardiologist in the United States of America with more than four decades of experience?
From landing at JFK airport, NY 34 years ago to where I am today has been a long journey indeed. Hard work, determination, and single-mindedness is the key to success in America. While studying for qualifying examinations, one has to do menial jobs to survive. Then we have to do training for years to specialize and subspecialize, struggle to establish one’s practice, and get ahead in life. One has to constantly study and keep up to date and keep up the skills. There is accountability and you have to be on your toes all the time.
What do you believe to be some of the most pressing health issues today?
In my opinion, PREVENTING diseases is the single most pressing health issue. While we spend a majority of health care dollars during the last few months or years of a person’s life, we do not even spend a fraction of that while they are young, in taking care of their risk factors. I always tell my patients, I want to prevent heart attacks and strokes, not treat them when they happen.
How do you practice empathy and compassion in the workplace?
I never forget what I had to go through to get where I am today. I also always put myself in other people’s shoes. Remember to treat people the way you want to be treated.
Doctors are everyday heroes. Tell us about your skills to face the challenges both medical and personal?
Caring for the sick and elderly takes special skills. You have to be a people person. You have to be caring and compassionate.
Being the President of Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America ( BJANA) kindly tell us more about its role in shaping the Indian Society overseas?
BJANA has been serving people in the U. S. and India since 1976. The organization has been working at the grassroots in healthcare, education, disaster relief (Covid pandemic), and on various socio-economic issues. It has done exceptional work in promoting the cultural heritage of India. It is an honour and privilege to have led BJANA, especially during the pandemic. We have united our diaspora and have brought them on a single platform. We have been constantly helping each other as a family.
How do you see the US’s healthcare system given your high understanding of medical sciences as a practicing cardiologist for the last forty years? How is it different from the Indian system?
As I said earlier, there is accountability. Everyone is treated with respect and an explanation is given, all questions are answered. Almost everyone has health insurance. The government provides health insurance for those above 65, those below the poverty line, and those who are disabled or on dialysis. We provide the best cardiac care in the world although it is expensive. India is a vast country and there is a lot of disparity between health care in urban vs rural, big cities vs small towns, rich vs poor. We have to do a lot more to fill up these gaps. Mobile health clinics and telemedicine may be a way to reach remote areas. We should build the infrastructure and provide amenities to doctors who want to work in rural areas.
Covid-19 challenge in front of the world is unprecedented and historic. The entire nation was looking forward to the medical fraternity with hope. In this regard sir I would like you to share one such positive story from your experience.?
When the pandemic struck, we were at the forefront of spreading awareness, education, prevention of covid, distributed masks, sanitizers, arranged for covid testing, sent hot meals to all health care workers at local hospitals. When the government called upon us to help vaccinate the public, we have been volunteering every weekend for the last 3 months to vaccinate thousands of public. We have vowed to continue this effort till every resident in our county is vaccinated and we return to normal. The worst experience was people dying of Covid at hospitals and family members were not allowed at the bedside to say goodbye.
The young doctors have the knowledge but no experience. It is up to us, the older generation to guide and mentor them which is a huge responsibility
As a top practicing doctor what are your suggestions with a focus on healthcare quality improvement highlighting the flaws and problems in our current system and areas where we need to do better?
We need to do better in preventing diseases. We need to cut back on paperwork and time spent on administrative work. Doctors should be in charge of running health care, not bureaucrats.
What is your piece of advice to all young dynamic aspiring doctors on understanding the intricacies of the health care system?
The young doctors have the knowledge but no experience. It is up to us, the older generation to guide and mentor them which is a huge responsibility. I tell my students, “When it comes to learning an art whose end is saving of human lives, any neglect to make ourselves thorough masters of it, becomes a crime”
Medicine is still indeed very special, seeks a deeply profound and wise understanding of your fellow human beings. Could you please share some magical moments from your life when you realized being a doctor is truly a blessed profession?
Actually, this happens every day when a patient gets better and says doctor you saved my life. The challenge is not to get carried away because we are just doing our jobs. We are in a profession where unfortunately we cannot have good outcomes all the time. We have to take the good with the bad. The patients also should take some responsibility for their health.
What are your thoughts on the traditional medicine system supported by the huge volume of our religious scriptures, literature, and records of the theoretical concepts and practical skills others pass down from generation to generation through ancient teachings.?
We practice the best form of medicine which is modern and scientific and evidence-based. At the same time, we should not forget our traditional medicine and adopt the good things from them. After all, Charak and Susruta are fathers of medicine and surgery.