"Medicine is not just a science. It's an artistic science, or a scientific art."
An interview with Dr Ravindra "Ravi" Sahasrabuddhe.
I've noticed something about doctors of any discipline who are known by their given names instead of their surnames. They tend to be divided into two camps: the first camp is of the tacky TV practitioner with endorsement deals and twenty books for the meagre ten years they've spent in actual clinical practice.
The other kind is the individual whose communities feel such a strong affection for them that they're enthusiastically waved-to across the street and are regularly the subject of admiring waiting room compliments in their absence.
The first time I saw Dr Ravi, I was sitting in Ken Burns' room on one of my regular visits to the nursing home as Ken had a friendly chat to Susan Templeman and Jack McNally. What struck me first was Dr Ravi's genuine demeanour, and secondly, the fact that he was so focused on his patient that he made a beeline for the bedside and made enquiries after Ken's welfare instead of getting distracted by the impromptu party in the room. Dr Ravi greeted us all warmly, but he was completely, utterly focused on his patient. This simple demonstration of a good doctor at work really struck me. It made me think of my own excellent GP, and how the first mark of a great GP in any consultation appears to be their ability to give their patients their undivided attention and mental energy. I was witness to a consult where there is trust between patient and doctor; the knowledge by the patient that they will be heard and responded to with well-educated consideration and unconditional kindness.
Dr Ravi agrees readily that he's an "old-school" doctor... characterising that term as a willingness to meet a patient where they're at, taking a comprehensive history and doing the mental work required to ponder his diagnoses, without rushing to scans and bloods. It is this careful and deliberate approach that has earned him high regard for his work as a general practitioner, but it is his artistic and entrepreneurial creativity - and heart for those with unmet needs both in Nagpur and the Hawkesbury - that has earned him a reputation as a humanist.
I present below this video of Dr Ravi's oral history and discussion of his ongoing work.
Below the video you will find fun links to further support your learning about where Dr Ravi comes from and what FONAG and Hawkesbury Heartstart are all about. In the future, you can be sure to hear about an emerging network for local families who are in need of support in the management of dementia.
0:00 - Introduction, and beginnings in Nagpur
5:35 - Education
6:45 - Doctoral thesis
9:25 - Moving to Australia
10:20 - A job at Nepean Hospital
11:24 - "Why are you a doctor?"
12:30 - "How do you think the community benefits from having medical practitioners who come from diverse cultural backgrounds?"
15:05 - Home visits
17:30 - "Do you think that providing culturally-appropriate end of life care has real, measurable health outcomes for patients and their families?"
18:30 - "You could've just done your job and nothing more, but you've pioneered programs such as Hawkesbury Heartstart and Friends of Nagpur. That's 'passion' stuff, right? What drives that? Why do you do that?"
24:25 - Awards
25:50 - Councillor Sahasrabuddhe
26:03 - The Hawkesbury Health Retreat: It was a thing... until it wasn't.
35:35 - "Win-Win", and Friends of Nagpur (FONAG)
46:33 - practice in aged care and end-of-life care
49:30 - future projects for FONAG and local dementia support
53:50 - the importance of getting a full patient background; diligent diagnosis
1:02:20 - When a GP has heart bypass surgery
1:07:13 - "Do you ever get stumped by mysterious conditions? What's the most difficult part of general practice for you?
1:09:27 - "We've talked a lot about caring for others, but how do you care for yourself? What stresses you out?"
1:10:45 - "You are a Registered Nurse. You have the training. You have the experience."
1:12:40 - "Semi-Retired..."
Links for Further Learning about the People, Food and Culture of Nagpur,
Hawkesbury Heartstart and Friends of Nagpur (FONAG)
Includes a look at the monument that marks the geographical centre of India!
AMAZING street performers in Nagpur!
Ganpati Festival video by Nagpur Today