Harshini Sriskanda is a Pediatrician with her own practice at Blue Rose Medical Centre in Scarborough, Ontario. She also sees patients at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ontario and Belleville General Hospital in Belleville, Ontario.
Harshini completed her four-year undergraduate degree at McMaster University in Biology and Psychology. She continued to pave her path in the Sciences and completed medical school at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. She then went on to specialize in Pediatrics and successfully completed her four years of training in the pediatric residency program at the University of Western Ontario.
Although becoming a doctor was a childhood dream for Harshini, her pivotal moment happened at the age of 20, when she went on a trip with a volunteer group to Brazil. Here, she witnessed firsthand the intersection between extreme poverty and inadequate health care, and the especially debilitating effects on the growth and development of children. Although she initially considered a career in Community Medicine – primarily public health in a managerial position – she soon committed to the idea of becoming a pediatrician so that she would be able to work with patients individually and practice public health on a daily basis.
A typical day during Harshini’s pediatric training started at 6:30am and ended at around 8:30am the following day. Between 6:30 and 7:30, Harshini would get herself ready for work, and her daughter ready for school. She then arrived at work at 8am and met the overnight crew, who together go over what happened overnight and give a brief overview of the new patients who were admitted to the hospital. At 9am, Harshini starts seeing these patients, usually between 10 and 20 patients per day. These meetings are team-based involving the Pediatric consultant, junior residents, senior residents, a pharmacist and a dietician. At noon, there is a one hour lunchtime lecture for medical residents. Then along with the rest of the medical team, Harshini continues with the daytime work including examining patients, meeting with other hospital staff and family members, and discharging children who are ready to go home. At 5pm, some residents go home but Harshini’s shift doesn’t end there. From 5pm until around 8am the next day, the Emergency Department at the hospital will call the Pediatric department any time there is a patient who needs to be admitted to the hospital. Patients who are already in the hospital may also need to be checked on. Her shift then ends at 8am. She goes home and naps for a couple of hours before she needs to pick up her daughter. Now, as a Pediatrician in the community, this is also a fairly typical day during her hospital shifts, except the medical team is significantly smaller when compared to the large academic hospitals where most residents do their training.
Harshini’s motivation to keep going, even with the long hours is to provide “the best medical care possible for patients.” Harshini received a lot of support and encouragement from her parents and her husband. She says, “Trying to balance family and work was my biggest challenge. I also had my daughter during my first year of residency. My parents or in laws would come over and stay for a couple of days if we needed them, which helped a lot.” Although it was a challenge to manage a family and a demanding residency, she says, “You don’t need to sacrifice everything to become a doctor,” as she often hears people say.
When asked about the most unique aspect of Harshini’s career, she says, “Medicine changes constantly, so you always have to be reading, learning and making sure that you are up to date – because if you are not, you are behind.”
Her advice to those who want to pursue medicine is to work hard in school and to get comfortable talking to all sorts of people. As a physician, you meet many types of patients and people throughout the day – excellent communication and teamwork skills are necessary to work in what is often a high-stress environment. To work on this, she suggests meeting as many people as you can, either through volunteering, sports teams or school clubs.
For more information on Harshini’s pediatric clinic, please click here.
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Co-Executive Editors – Stefi Anthonipillai & Narmitha Kanagaratnam