By Dr. Kusum Lata, Pleasanton, California, United States
Career selection is a complex, challenging and stressful process. Parents play an important role in the selection of career, educational journey and success of their children.
Can you tell us about your career path so far, and how you got to where you are today?
My decision to enter medicine is a coalescence of several driving forces. To make a patient, who initially presents frightened and anxious, to relax and smile and say thank you after getting appropriately treated with a compassionate and human attitude, appears to me to be the greatest reward any human being strives for. Upon completion of medical school I came here and pursued many years of training in internal medicine, heart Failure, Cardiology, Interventional and Vascular Cardiology. Interventional cardiology has exponential development of techniques and equipment to provide minimally invasive treatment to patients with cardiovascular disease.
How has your family influenced your personal and professional life, and what role have they played in your success?
Career selection is a complex, challenging and stressful process. Parents play an important role in the selection of career, educational journey and success of their children. My parents and family influenced my career selection and supported me unconditionally. The rigorous and prolonged training to become an Interventional cardiologist was well supported by my kids and spouse. Nonetheless you always have to have meaningful friends and colleagues who value your judgments, desires, and beliefs.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?
Gender discrimination is one of the most challenging aspects I have dealt with and continue to deal with at personal and professional aspects. Traditionally dominance and power is ascribed to men. Historically, women are considered subordinates and unfortunately it continues regardless of education, socioeconomic status and countries. It is a day to day ongoing battle. We will need revolution, protocol, strict rules and regulations to get rid of gender discrimination. It is hard to fight with your own defense.
The interventional Cardiology field is considered as too demanding. I was very much aware of these challenges so I have created a set of rules, strategies and expectations in my personal life.
How do you balance your work and personal life, and what strategies have you found to be most effective?
The interventional Cardiology field is considered as too demanding. I was very much aware of these challenges so I have created a set of rules, strategies and expectations in my personal life. One can not satisfy all the relations at the same moment. My kids know that mom can not celebrate all birthdays, their graduations and performances. I do ensure to catch up on some of these missed opportunities and try my best. I hope my family and friends are aware of my efforts.
Can you describe a typical day in your life, both at work and at home?
I like to wake-up pretty early when in the quiet sky. My days are packed with seeing clinical patients, reading clinical studies, procedures and ancillary works. I do a lot of clinical research, presentations, community work and some administrative work as well. I am very focused on my work. Upon completion of work in the evening I chit chat with my kids, do some exercise, catch up with my friends and families.
What motivates you to keep pushing forward and pursuing your goals, even when faced with obstacles?
I have a passion to get better and do my best. I am in competition with myself whether it’s at work or at home. On the same note, I know that no one is perfect and so does me. When you contribute to someone’s life, it’s precious. This is the best part of my life at work. At home life is adventurous with two naughty daughters, extended families and friends.
How do you define success, both in your career and in your personal life?
Success is a relative term and hard to define. You always have a desire to achieve something better both in your personal and professional life. It is hard to satisfy all your needs. You always end up with I wish !!!! I think this is a better attitude than a feeling that you have it all, that will make your life a little boring. But I can certainly say that I am pretty close.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in your industry or field?
In the current era It’s getting very difficult to attract younger students to medicine and in-particular to Interventional Cardiology. Younger generations are looking for shortcuts. In general there are consensus that medicine / sub specialization is rigorous and time taking. I was so committed to this field that I never counted all the years I spent in training. It’s true that I might have missed something interesting or important in life. Regardless of all the odds, this is a fascinating, interesting and intellectually stimulating career to consider.
Can you tell us about a project or accomplishment you are particularly proud of, and why?
When I look back I have a series of events that I should be proud of, but I got too busy with the next project to realize those accomplishments at that moment. I don’t regret it and take it as a part of my life, my plan, my dream. I planned my job in a non-traditional way. I joined private practice and continued academic work at national level. One of my mentors at that time told me there is no clinical practice path like you are planning for your career. The positivity helped me achieve my goals.
What do you see as your biggest opportunity or challenge in the next 5-10 years, and how do you plan to tackle it?
Interventional and vascular cardiology is dynamic. It changes in a blink. If you don’t update you will get educationally old faster than your chronological age. To keep myself updated I work with various national societies, take active participation in conferences and do clinical research.