Dr. Sujan Makaju Shrestha is Consultant Surgeon with the Department of Surgery at Dhulikhel Hospital, a Kathmandu University hospital. Shrestha completed his MBBS and Postgraduate in Surgery from Kathmandu University School of Medical Sciences and has been working with the hospital for the past four and a half years. He proudly attributes his success to the team and the work culture at the hospital. In an email interview, Dr. Shrestha shares with Ankita Jain, the five elements that have impacted his work and life.
“If you can start giving your life dimension, design, colour, objectives and purpose, life is best lived. It gave me the chance to experience the power of my imagination, which I believe is the most powerful resource one can have”.
My grandfather always said, “Set a goal and work towards it. No good will come from working without an aim.” This has always motivated me to set a goal. I wanted to be a surgeon since childhood, and I started preparing for it at an early age. If you can start giving your life dimension, design, colour, objectives and purpose, life is best lived. It gave me the chance to experience the power of my imagination, which I believe is the most powerful resource one can have.
Family plays the most influential role in an individual’s life. My family has always been there to teach me the values of love, affection and truthfulness. My parents have always encouraged me to see through problems rather than to run away from them. They have been a constant beacon of hope to guide me through my career. Being the eldest son in my family, my physical presence was required in many of the family functions. However, they understood my priority well. I always had their back. Also, dreaming to be a surgeon is not enough, one requires huge financial support. Throughout my studies, I never had any obstacle and all the credit goes to my family for the smooth flow of love and support.
The relationship between patient and physician is based on trust. It is our foremost responsibility to place patient welfare above self-interest. Recently, an extremely poor patient, incapable to pay even a cent for his treatment came to our hospital. He had been to a couple of other hospitals earlier, but sadly, was shown the door. At Dhulikhel Hospital, we believe in treating the patients first than worrying about the cost. As a surgeon, such incidents fill my heart with joy. Later, the patient was backed by charities; he is sound now.
Furthermore, I always believe that good communication and interpersonal skills are needed to facilitate accurate diagnosis, counsel appropriately, give therapeutic instructions, and establish caring relationships with patients. We have to treat patients as people, make them feel listened to, understood and really cared for. “It’s all about them, not me – that’s why I am here”—I remind myself constantly. Caring starts with connecting. Acknowledge and tune into patient sentiment; be personable; be patient and be compassionate.
Dhulikhel Hospital was founded with the principle of social equity in health care. This value has always stayed with me. I am proud to be trained and for the opportunity to work in one of the best university hospitals in Nepal. We believe that quality health services need not always be an expensive commodity and limited only to those who are rich enough to afford. Our team in the hospital has always strived to put interdisciplinary collaboration to fulfill our mission.
Dream big, start small and start now
Had I not planned at an early stage of my life, I would never have become a surgeon. I worked hard for it and fortunately was offered a scholarship. Almost everything great starts with a small decision or action that seems insignificant or impossible at the time. Being a part of one of the success stories in health care delivery in Nepal, I have come to realise that if you dare to dream and believe in it, everything is possible.