What does being healthy mean? Does it mean being disease free or does it mean being content in life? We come across various things and people on a daily basis, some leave an impact on our lives, while most of them are lost in the crowd.
Life is about learning and improving ourselves constantly. Parents, family, teachers and mentors play an important role in guiding us in our journeys, through ups and downs. These are the people who make us what we are and what we will ever become.
MedBound Times was fortunate enough to have an enlightening conversation with one of the most humble and learned personalities in the field of Medicine & Mental Health.
This article is a part of the DocScopy series on Dr. Pasupuleti. The article focuses on the life journey of Dr. Pasupuleti and some of the exciting life and professional experiences right from becoming a doctor in India to being a prominent Neurologist and educator in the US.
Dr. Darshit Patel [DP]: Sir, Can you please tell us something about your journey from being a physician in India to being one of the most influential Neurologists, Psychiatrist , and a Healer in the US.
Dr. Pasupuleti: I live in Grand Blanc, Michigan, I have been here since 1980. I started as a teaching neurologist in the hospital and have been teaching here for the last 25 years. In December 2012, I decided to slow down and took a break from clinical practice. So right now I try to help out clinical practitioners and at the same time, I try to keep my clinical skills sharp. So that's what I have been doing for the last ten years.
I started my journey in south India. As you know, in India one can get into a Medical college after completing high school. I was 16 when I started medical school, by the age of 21, I became a doctor. During that time a big tsunami struck the coastal regions, many lost their lives and shelter, it was a huge health crisis. During that time, The Red Cross society approached me and asked me, “You are a young man, not married, you have no responsibilities. Would you please help us?" So, I accepted the opportunity and eventually as the time passed, my journey took me to the States. I came in and took my licensing exam.
First I did residency in psychiatry and became the chief resident. Due to the influence of my Indian culture and teachings, I soon realized that I must pursue something in the domain of Neuroscience and somatology.
Speaking of psychiatry, I believe that some mental health conditions can be self-induced, such as drugs and alcohol and not working hard, and being persistent.
These factors play a significant role in determining mental health well-being. While being one of the most interesting things, the mind can be our greatest enemy.
Dr. Pasupuleti, MD, FACP, FAANEM, USA
DP: Sir, what made you move to Neurology and then towards teaching?
Dr Pasupuleti: In Sanskrit, they say that the mind is our bondage and also liberation. So I kind of grew up with that. So I decided to get into Neurology. I studied Neurology at New York University and then my mentors advised me to move into some specialty. So, then I did a one-year fellowship in EMG at another university in Wisconsin. And then I came to Flint for the interview. It was like a desert looking for rain, which means they have residency programs and medical students, but every doctor was busy making money. It was like a rat race: who would make more money, who would have a 10-story big house, elevators, a swimming pool, a sauna. They didn't have a time frame.
So when I came for the interview, they said you're a young man and at that time I already had three children so they asked could you please teach our students? I replied, “Why not?” Since I used to teach back home too, I said fine. And then that marked the beginning of my career.
DP: How was your experience of practising in the US? Any significant event that left an impression on your life?
Dr. Pasupuleti: When I was seeking neurology, I noticed that patients don't get diagnosed properly. Usually doctors don't give time to listen to their patients. Nobody examines the patient properly, I have seen patients complaining - “The doctor doesn't touch me, I waited 3 hours in the waiting room. He didn't even see me for three minutes. He didn't listen to my heart”.
They see merit, which means the more patients you see, the more money you get. And as you have a white coat and a status quo, you are second to God.
So when I started teaching , they liked the bedside manners and all. I was never afraid of malpractice here. As you probably know, in America, everybody is afraid of malpractice. Even presidents sue each other every election.
So I preached bedside manners to my patients as well. I see them wholeheartedly and they also realize that I am being honest to them about their condition. I never got sued. I am very straightforward to my patients, sometimes I even directly tell them to knock it off, Don't smoke, don't drink. The doctors here usually pamper them. They say yes, Yes to everything.
Don't ever think that I'm the smartest guy from Harvard. I scored 99. When it comes to taking care of a patient, all they want to know is,“ what is my problem, how are you going to solve it”, right?
DP: I totally agree with being straightforward with the patients, it is crucial for making proper diagnosis and in treatment. Sir, what advice would you give to the younger generation of healthcare professionals?
Dr Pasupuleti: Every experience can be a lesson. Even though I'm telling you a story. For any individual to be successful, one must be at least reasonably content in life, , which means listening or trying to hear things that are good and have the potential to make a positive impact on life. Not rap, not serials on TV, they don't put food on your table. So listen to somebody or something very useful, and practical for your life.
Dr. Pasupuleti, MD, FACP, FAANEM, USA
Well the story isn't over for us yet. Stay tuned to MedBound Times for Part-2 of this interview series (Beyond mental health & spirituality).