At 43, with a dimpled smile that instantly disarms, paediatric cardiologist Sunita Maheshwari is an unlikely doctor-the kind most likely to break into a dance at the lab once a tough case has been taken care of. "Music is my stress buster," she says.
A Yale-trained doctor, she specialized in paediatric cardiology at a time when the subject was relatively unknown in India. Today she is one of a few interventional paediatric cardiologists in the country.
She is also senior consultant and head of department at Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bengaluru, one of the country's largest referral hospitals as well as co-founder and chief dreamer at Teleradiology Solutions, a company she started with radiologist husband Arjun Kalyanpur on their return from the US.
From a two-person operation when it started in 2002, the Bengaluru-based company has grown, now looking at over 2.6 million scans with 350 employees all over the world. It examines scans from 75 hospitals in the US and 11 centres in Singapore. It has received accreditation from the US Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organisations and is the first such organisation outside Singapore to be certified by the country's Ministry of Health. It also works with centres in The Netherlands, Nigeria, Denmark, Croatia and Georgia. Maheshwari was also the winner of the Young Clinician Award from the American Heart Association and the Best Teacher Award at Yale University. At the hospital in Bengaluru, she runs one of India's largest fellowship training programmes teaching physicians endovascular interventional techniques.
Maheshwari wears these two hats-of a doctor and entrepreneur-with `lan. While the first is something, she says, she always wanted to do, the latter, just happened.
"Somewhere, I think, when I was in the seventh grade, I decided I wanted to be a doctor. And I never changed my mind," she says. "It's strange," she says. "I have never had a mid-life crisis, asked myself why I am on this earth or questioned myself. I know why I'm here and am continuously satisfied."
She studied medicine at Osmania Medical College, going on to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, for her post-graduation. She has always gone where her heart dictated ` from New Delhi`s AIIMS to Yale, winning its `Best Teacher` and the American Heart Association`s `Young Clinician` awards, before returning to her roots. `I always knew I wanted to give back to my country, to do something for India,` she says.
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