WOW | Coffee Break

the power of female surgeons & the challenges of having it all

Surgery is predominantly considered a male career choice. However this trend, as with every other field, is changing gradually. In this edition of coffee break, we bring you four women surgeons who not only are breaking career barriers but are also accomplishing great heights of success in both professional and personal life with sheer hard work and determination. They are smart, efficient, accomplished, enjoy life to the fullest and are great role models as parents, doctors, and women of substance.

Dr. Paleswan Joshi Lakhey
48, Scorpio, Married with two daughters
Education/ Area of specialisation: MBBS, MS, MCh Gastrointestinal and Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgery.
Husband's profession: Physician

Professor of Surgery at Maharajgunj Medical Campus, Institute of Medicine, Tribhuvan University and Consultant Gastrointestinal and Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgeon at Tribhuvan University and Teaching Hospital, Dr. Paleswan Joshi Lakhey is a woman who wears her responsibilities with practiced ease. She  is married to Dr. Sanjay Lakhey, a Consultant Physician with B &B Hospital and is parent to two  loving daughters Prapti and Srishti. Her life’s greatest treasure is her family.

What inspired you to become a doctor and chose your area of specialisation?

It’s my mother. She is a gynecologist and the one to inspire me to become a doctor. Besides the profession itself is motivating and satisfying. I chose to become a surgeon because I wanted to do something different. Moreover, my father wanted me to become a doctor who treats cancer. Surgery is one modality of treating cancer.

What is it like to work in Nepal?

It has been 17 years since I have been working at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital as a faculty in the Department of Surgery. Being the only female member of our department, I have rarely experienced gender indifferences. However, there have been times when you are looked at as just anyone while a male in a white coat is assumed to be a doctor. Having said this, I feel that the appreciation and acknowledgment of my patients has always been encouraging. Working for your own people is always more satisfying.

Do you feel women doctors have to work extra hard to establish their credibility?

Yes, that is true. But not only for women doctors, women in any field have to do that. I guess for the matter, even men, have to work extra hard to stand out in the crowd.

Women need to understand their capability and believe in themselves.

What do you do to establish a better patient-doctor relationship?

I do this by being compassionate and communicating with active listening. It is very important to communicate with patients, to talk in their language, and sometimes see things in their perspective to understand their problems better. I try to make them understand that we care for them. There have been instances when patients come and say, “half of our pain is gone just by talking to you doctor”.

What does success mean to you?

Success means to achieve what you want in your life. Appreciation and acknowledgment are also signs of success. But for me as an academic surgeon, being able to be a good teacher, a compassionate doctor, a thoughtful wife/daughter/daughter-in-law and a loving mother defines success. Being satisfied in every role you play in life is success.

How do maintain work-life balance?

A very supportive and understanding family is the backbone which enables me to maintain work-life balance. I have learned to prioritise things. Experience has taught me to do the right thing at the right time.

Something you would like to see changed in the medical field in Nepal?

I always dream that we have a ‘one stop’ hospital where all facilities are available so that all the problems of a patient are taken care of once s/he enters that hospital. Also, we need to have comprehensive medical insurance so that patients do not die from lack of finances.

What do you do for fun?

Spend time with my family, watch movies, dream, think and above all pamper myself.