Meet the Expert : Dr Chintamani

Dr. Chintamani, one of the most popular surgery professors in the country, President of Association of Breast Surgeons of India and Editor-in-chief of Indian Journal of Surgery, in an exclusive interview with Curofy, talks about his passion for teaching and shares tips about scientific paper writing for young doctors.

Curofy: From Army to UK and back to India, please tell us about your journey as a Surgeon.

Dr Chintamani: Well it has been some time now but making of a surgeon is an exciting adventure and my journey was no exception. I learnt from each moment and felt enriched and filled as I walked my path. It was more of a desire to explore the unbeaten paths within the framework of safety and like most of my wild life trips the journey was full of its share of thrills. I truly believe that our lives are merely a collection of episodes and events with each being different from the previous one.

When did I first think about being a surgeon? I actually cannot remember, as I do not think it ever was an effort, I simply could not have done anything else.Wild life photography and my games of tennis kept me focused as a surgeon as they have a lot in common with surgery, especially the lessons one learns in the wild and at tennis courts that are so similar to the ones in the life of a surgeon.

Curofy: How did the stint in the Armed Forces help you as a doctor?

Dr Chintamani: Brilliant question ! It made me what I eventually became. It taught me camaraderie and leadership, both mandatory for a surgeon. As a surgeon in uniform I always felt very proud and upright. Exposure to war zones and field areas especially like Sri Lanka helped me learn to manage a surgical condition from head to toe with the chaos of war around you.

Curofy: You are one of the most popular medical professors in the country. What motivates you to teach with so much passion?

Dr Chintamani: Thank you for the compliment. Teaching is the best way to share both, your information and ignorance. And I think it is also the most enjoyable way to continue learning. The motivation comes from the “feed backs” and in the response that one can observe in the eyes of his students. They,along with our patients are the dominant reason for us to remain up to date, meaningful and relevant. A teacher lives in each one of his students and hence this is the surest way to remain immortal.

Passion is the essence of life and I derive it out of my surgery and teaching. Both have given me more, than what i have given back. I am therefore grateful to my students and my patients for teaching me many lessons in surgery and also in life!

Curofy: You have been a strong advocate of improving medical and post-graduate education in our country. What are the 5 changes, which you would like to see in the current medical education system?

Dr Chintamani: Great question but I would like to make 500 changes. But to answer your question I will try and confine myself to five points.

1. Learning should be event based and not classroombased and we first need to train teachers in to doing so by creating scenarios rather than mundane “run of the mill class room teaching sessions”.

2. There should be more of story telling than didactic talks and it should be interactive based on case scenarios.

3. Most of the clinical teaching should be bedside or in the operation theatre or based on the recorded surgeries.

4. There should be a rotation of students through both public hospitals and corporate set-ups in order to get the complete exposure.

5. Teachers should not be “recruited” like other public servants. Anyone working in Government or corporate set ups but keen and passionate about teaching and with optimum qualification and more importantly with should be teaching [Honorary teachers/Professors].

Teaching is a passion that is hard to sustain yet the easiest thing for those who have this passion “naturally”. “Good teachers” produce “good pupils” who make even “better teachers”.

Curofy: As the Editor-in-chief of Indian Journal of Surgery, what tips would you like to give to young doctors, who are interested in publishing articles?

First tip is to start today if you are not writing already. There is an old saying “publish or perish”.

I would like to say, “Publish and flourish”. Writing does not come to us naturally these days, as we don’t read that often anymore. It is more about short cuts and SMSs.

Start by writing letters to editor, which is based on the article you have read in a journal. Attending conferences and presenting papers in the ones that we have been organizing provide the opportunity to do so. Make it a point to present and publish.

Curofy: Do you think mobile health apps can play a role in the medical education system in the future?

Dr Chintamani: I think health apps are the remarkable way forward. We can simulate and expand our classrooms and have virtual live and happening scenarios. These are the solutions that I have already referred to. It is truly amazing to be able to reach each student personally and provide the desired information in the most interesting and eye catching way. I think that is probably the best that we can do to help the deteriorating standards of teaching and learning world over.

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Originally published at on October 27, 2015.