MAKING a difference in his patients’ lives is how Dr Gandhi Nathan Solayar fell in love with his profession.
Fourteen years into his career as a doctor, his passion led him to becoming one of three surgeons from the Asia Pacific region to be selected for the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) fellowship last year.
The selection is made by the Asia Pacific Knee, Arthroscopy and Sports Surgery society (APKASS) committee, based in Hong Kong.
“The other two fellows who joined me were from Melbourne, Australia and Kobe, Japan. We were also accompanied by a senior surgeon from Pune, India.
“It was a fantastic experience where we were able to experience surgery, research and socialise with renowned orthopaedic surgeons throughout the United States.
“I was able to present my research done and this was well received.
“We were also honoured at the AOSSM meeting in San Diego where we were inducted into the Magellan Society (an International Society that brings together as members the Travelling Fellows and the guiding Godparents who were pre-selected by their parent Sports Medicine Societies of North America (AOSSM), Europe (ESSKA), the Pacific Region (APOA), and South America (SLARD) for carefully planned tours of the other regions’ major sports medicine centres),” he says.
Describing it as a prestigious fellowship, Dr Gandhi says he has also written about the whole trip, adding that it is accessible online.
Dr Gandhi,39, is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in Hospital Tuanku Ja’afar, Seremban and a senior lecturer at International Medical University (IMU).
“I am honoured and elated to have been selected to be part of this fellowship.
“When I was a student, I saw an arthroscopic knee surgery after which, the patient was walking again just two weeks later.
“I have always liked arthroscopic surgery and have been fortunate to train under great surgeons in Ireland, Australia and the United States, both as a registrar and senior fellow.
“This fellowship was a fantastic, once in a lifetime experience and I have gained tremendously from it,” he shares.
For Dr Gandhi, the fellowship opened his eyes to the way “busy surgeons balance their time between work and family life”.
“I have come to appreciate this.
“I learnt how certain surgical sports cases are performed, the level of research, staffing, hospital design and clinical practice.
“I believe the main way we can improve Malaysia’s advancement in sports surgery comes from the awareness of injury patterns and early referral to trained surgeons.
“There should be better care in the form of dedicated surgeons aligned to sports teams in this country,” Dr Gandhi adds.
Good communication and teamwork between sports physicians and sports surgeons, he says, are vital in ensuring optimal patient care, pre and post-surgery. Teaching a new generation of doctors who are more tech savvy than the previous, Dr Gandhi says knowing why things are done is important, as it requires experience in the field and proper understanding of medicine.
“It’s not the “what” they know as this can easily be obtained through a quick search on their smartphones.
“‘Doctoring’ is and has always been an apprenticeship.
“Senior doctors must guide the younger ones and they in turn will do the same when their time comes,” he adds.
Dr Gandhi, a IMU alumni himself, prefers teaching through case-based learning.
Students present real cases and discuss the management and potential pit-falls of the case.
“This is valuable as it simulates what happens in real life and makes students think on their feet.
“To young and aspiring doctors, be patient and work hard.
“Have a good objective in mind and strive to achieve it; it will work out in the end,” he says.
Dr Gandhi has his eye set on playing a role in improving the standards of surgical care in Malaysia and guiding young doctors and surgeons.
“I want to share my experience with them.
“I have been very lucky and it is time to give back,” he says.