Doctors’ Day Special - A Glimpse into My Life as a Plastic Surgeon

Hello everyone! As we celebrate National Doctors’ Day today, I want to take this opportunity to share a glimpse into my life as a doctor. Being a doctor is not just a profession for me; it’s a calling, a passion that drives me every day. Often, patients try to learn more about us through various mediums and want to connect with us. So in this blog, I’ll try to tell you more about myself, the challenges I face, and how I maintain a work-life balance.

What Motivated Me to Become a Doctor

I’ve always been fortunate to have incredibly supportive parents and family who encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Their unconditional support and belief in me have been instrumental in shaping my career. While there wasn’t a specific moment that inspired me to become a doctor, my love for human and animal biology naturally led me to choose medicine.

My fascination with anatomy further fueled my passion for surgery. I received excellent training during my post-graduation in General Surgery at the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Sion, Mumbai. Eventually, my childhood love for music and art guided me toward the field of Plastic Surgery. It’s a specialty that beautifully blends art and science, and looking back, I believe it was my true calling.

What’s it like to be a Doctor

I can honestly say that I love being a doctor. It’s a privilege to wake up every day and make a positive impact on the lives of people from various walks of life. The feeling of gratitude, when I see the difference I can make in someone’s life, is truly overwhelming. Medicine is a profession that upholds the highest moral and ethical values. It is a constant reminder of the responsibility we carry to deliver the best care possible to our patients. This sense of purpose and the opportunity to touch lives are what keep me going.

Participated in the Tata Mumbai Marathon to support organ donation

Participated in the Tata Mumbai Marathon to support organ donation

My Journey as a Plastic Surgeon

I embarked on my journey in Plastic Surgery training in 2007 after completing my post-graduation at Seth G.S. Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai. To enhance my expertise, I pursued multiple fellowships in Hand Surgery, Microsurgery, Brachial plexus surgery, and Peripheral Nerve Surgery, both in India and abroad. Since September 2013, I have been in independent private practice, and this year marks the completion of a decade (10 years) in my clinical career.

As a Plastic Surgeon, I specialize in various domains. My focus areas include Hand Surgery, Brachial Plexus and Nerve Surgery, Reconstructive Microsurgery, and Hand Transplantation. It’s an exciting and challenging field that requires continuous learning and staying updated with the latest advancements.

Importance of Self-Care for Doctors

Just like anyone else, doctors need to prioritize their own well-being. Working in an infectious environment and dealing with critical situations can take a toll on our physical and mental health. The immense responsibilities we shoulder, both professionally and personally, demand that we take good care of ourselves. By maintaining our own health, we can ensure that we provide the best care to our patients and fulfill our duties effectively.

Balancing Health and a Busy Schedule

Maintaining a healthy routine amidst a demanding and unpredictable schedule can be quite challenging. Especially for specialties that handle emergencies, like mine, where medical and surgical emergencies can occur at any time of the day or night. It’s not uncommon for doctors in India to work even on weekends. All these factors make self-care difficult and irregular. However, we must make a conscious effort to prioritize our well-being and find time for physical exercise, relaxation, and mental rejuvenation.

Maintaining a certain level of fitness is crucial to minimizing the risk of major health issues that could force me to take leave from work. I cannot recall a single instance in which I have taken leave due to health issues. I consider any loss of productive time to be precious. Whether it’s professional work, family time, or personal endeavors, I strive to utilize my time productively and efficiently.

A Peek into My Daily Routine

My day usually begins with an invigorating yoga session early in the morning. This helps me prepare mentally and physically for the day ahead. Spending quality time with my family is an essential part of my morning routine as well.

The nature of my work determines the schedule for the rest of the day. If I have long or complex surgeries planned, I start my day early. These intricate microvascular or reconstructive surgeries can take up to 8-10 hours. On other days, I have outpatient clinics in the first half and minor or intermediate surgeries in the afternoon. Post-COVID, I also conduct online consultations in the late afternoon or evening. If my day finishes early, I make it a point to go for an evening walk with my wife or engage in a short run within my home premises.

However, my routine gets significantly disrupted when we receive an alert for a potential organ donor for a hand transplant surgery. In such cases, we dedicate around 15-20 hours to sorting out the preoperative logistics and then spend another 12-16 hours performing the surgery, depending on the complexity. The following days are focused on closely monitoring the patient’s recovery in the ICU while managing the rescheduled appointments for other patients.

My Approach to Fitness and Exercise

There are three key habits that I swear by to keep myself going every single day: yoga, running, and walking. Considering the unpredictable nature of my work, I make it a priority to attend my morning yoga classes three times a week. Yoga has been an integral part of my life, as it offers a holistic approach to physical and mental well-being. Depending on my work schedule, I also engage in walking, running, and weight training to maintain an active lifestyle. I particularly enjoy participating in marathons, which provide me with a goal to work towards and keep me motivated.

My Balanced Diet for Optimal Health

I maintain a balanced diet by including a mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in my meals. Fruits and eggs are essential components of my daily diet as they provide vital nutrients. While I do indulge in snacks and junk food occasionally, I make sure to compensate by following a disciplined workout routine. It’s all about enjoying the pleasures and flavors of life while ensuring that we burn any excess or unhealthy calories through physical activity.

Managing Stress through Yoga and Meditation

Stress management is crucial for any doctor, given the demanding nature of our profession. Yoga has been my anchor in coping with stress. It not only helps with physical fitness, but also focuses on meditation, breath control, mindfulness, letting go, empathy, and gratitude. These aspects have significantly improved my ability to handle stress and have led to personal growth. Yoga acts as a detoxifying agent for both the body and mind, allowing me to maintain a balanced and centered approach to life.

Striving for Work-Life Balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is undoubtedly challenging. It requires dedicated effort to take time off from work, academic pursuits, and scientific meetings. Given the complexity of my field, which involves complex surgeries and transplants, achieving this balance becomes even more demanding.

Spending quality time with family and friends

Spending quality time with family and friends

However, I do my best to spend quality time with my family and friends whenever possible. I also pursue my various interests, such as running, trekking, music, photography, filmmaking, traveling, and reading. Engaging in these activities enriches my life and helps me unwind.

Trek summit - An effort for organ donation awareness

Trek summit - An effort for organ donation awareness

Knowing When to Disconnect from Work

The nature of our profession often presents unpredictable situations and demands our full attention. Striking a balance between work commitments and personal responsibilities is always a tightrope walk. However, I have learned to adapt and switch modes as per the demands of the situation. Every moment is valuable, and making each one count is essential when dealing with medical emergencies. Being present in the moment allows me to provide the best care while ensuring that I maintain a healthy work-life balance.

The Importance of Vacations and Time Off

Enjoying a picnic with family

Enjoying a picnic with family

Taking vacations is not just important but mandatory. Stepping away from work allows the mind and body to rejuvenate, leading to renewed vigor and improved productivity. Apart from scientific conferences and meetings, I make it a point to take at least one long vacation and a couple of short vacations each year. Trekking in the Himalayas has become an annual tradition for me, and I also indulge in jungle safaris and wildlife photography. These experiences provide a much-needed break from work and contribute to my overall well-being.

Health Advice for Fellow Doctors

My advice to all my fellow doctors is to strive to maintain the dignity and nobility of the medical profession. We are blessed with the potential to positively impact countless lives. By working diligently, with honesty and integrity, we can fulfill our responsibility to serve humanity. At the same time, it is crucial to explore and enjoy life to the fullest.

Focus on maintaining fitness, pursuing personal interests and hobbies, and nurturing happiness both at home and in the workplace. Striking this delicate balance will help prevent burnout and enable us to make the most of our lives! As doctors, we have the power to touch lives and bring about meaningful change. By taking care of ourselves, managing stress, and embracing a healthy lifestyle, we can continue to make a positive difference while leading fulfilling personal lives. Let’s embrace the challenges and rewards that come with being a doctor, and remember to cherish every moment as we contribute to the well-being of others.

Dr. Nilesh Satbhai
Dr. Nilesh Satbhai

About the author

Dr. Nilesh Satbhai is a highly experienced and skillful plastic surgeon who has dedicated his career to helping patients feel at ease with their bodies. He completed his Plastic Surgery training at the prestigious Seth G. S. Medical College and K.E.M Hospital in Mumbai, after which he went on to earn his fellowship in various subfields of plastic and reconstructive surgery. Dr. Nilesh is a caring professional who takes the time to get to know his patients and understand their individual needs and goals. He is committed to providing the highest quality care possible and strives to make every patient feel comfortable and confident in their decision to undergo treatment. If you are considering plastic or reconstructive surgery, Dr. Nilesh Satbhai is a trusted surgeon who can provide you with the results you desire.

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