Dr Vineeta T Swaroop MD, Chicago

Dr-Vineeta-T-Swaroop-MD-Orthopedic-Surgery-ChicagoDr Vineeta Swaroop MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital

In today’s medical spotlight, we take a look at Individual Board Certified, Dr Swaroop. At the time of writing, she is 37 years old and has 11 years experience in Orthopedic Surgery practice. Let’s see what this this medical star of tomorrow has to share with us.

Describe your current position and what led you to your job:

I work as a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon in a unique academic practice setting, dividing my time between the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Children’s Memorial Hospital. I get to work with challenging, complex patients with neuromuscular disorders as well as active, able-bodied children with orthopaedic concerns.

My current position has brought me full circle in a career path I was first introduced to as a freshman in high school. At that time, I was diagnosed with scoliosis and then had spinal fusion surgery at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The whole process fascinated me and made me want to learn more about how it was possible that a half-day of surgery would straighten my spine for a lifetime. During my last post-operative visit, I told my surgeon that one day I would come back and work for him. He laughed and said, “sure, sweetheart.”

After undergraduate studies at Duke University, I chose Georgetown for medical school because I identified strongly with their philosophy encompassing Jesuit education, strong work ethic and a supportive environment. I was fortunate to end up at Georgetown, as the medical school is known throughout the country as being an orthopaedic powerhouse. Plenty of people told me I didn’t quite fit the profile of the typical male, athletic orthopaedic surgeon. But my mentors at Georgetown realized I was stubborn, hard-working, and not going away and were always supportive and encouraging.

After Georgetown, I went on to do my orthopaedic surgery residency at Northwestern, where my former surgeon was the chair of the department. When I first started my residency he did not remember that I had been that girl on his operating room table, but I reminded him of what I said, and there I was.

As part of my residency I spent time at Children’s – at first it was strange to be back at the hospital I had been to so many times as a patient, but I soon realized I had a unique insight to share with my patients and their families. I could relate with them both on the level as a doctor and as someone who had experienced the same fears, questions and unknowns that they were feeling.

I realized then that I was compelled to work with children. I completed a fellowship in pediatric orthopaedic surgery in San Diego and headed straight back to Chicago to start my practice. Now I am a surgeon in the same hospital and same operating rooms where I was once a patient. I try never to forget how it felt to be on the other side, and I hope that makes me a better doctor.

What has been the most rewarding moment in your career?

One of the best parts of working with kids is that they inspire me every day. But if I have to pick one rewarding moment, it was after I had operated on a five year-old girl with a femur fracture. She was so shy that all the way through the course of her surgery and post-operative visits, she hardly ever talked to me or even looked at me. Then, during her last visit her mom told me that she had been asked in school what she wants to be when she grows up. She answered, “I want to be Dr. Swaroop”. I was shocked and very honored.

What is the best career advice you have received?

When I was in grade school, my dad caught me one time making my bed by pulling the bedspread up over the still-rumpled sheets underneath. He sat me down and told me that in life, nothing is worth doing unless you are going to do your very best, even making your bed in the morning. That lesson of not doing anything unless you can be proud of it is so widely applicable. During surgical training there were many times when I was exhausted and wanted to take the easy way out. But I try hard to remember that what I do leaves a lasting impression on my patients and that spending the extra five minutes to explain things better can make their experience much easier.

What would you recommend to someone interested in working in your field?

Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can to get real experience in the field so that you know what you are getting yourself into. Television shows glamorize the life of a surgeon, but it’s hard work. My experience has been very rewarding and exciting, but has also included many long hours of work and stressful days and nights. During college, I spent two semesters doing pre-med internships – one on an orthopaedic ward in the hospital, and one shadowing an orthopaedic surgeon. Although I was young, it was a good introduction to the field.

Then in medical school at Georgetown, I shadowed an orthopaedic surgeon in the community throughout my first two years. She was very honest with me about the life of a surgeon. She showed me how stimulating and fulfilling the career could be but also how much effort was required to achieve a healthy balance of work and family life. In the summer between my first and second years of medical school, I did an internship following a busy pediatric spine surgeon. By the time I made the decision to become an orthopaedic surgeon, I had a realistic understanding of what my life would be like.

What challenges have you faced and how did you successfully manage one situation?

During my fellowship when I first started operating completely on my own, I found the pressure to perform to be very stressful. For tough cases, I worried obsessively about whether I was doing the right thing for my patients. One mentor taught me to make “cookbooks” for surgery, writing out each step of a surgery including even the most minor details. The process of making the cookbook and preparing helped me to feel organized and in control of the steps. Although those steps have become second nature, I still post the “cookbook” in my operating room for each surgery to encourage the residents I work with now to learn to do the same thing.

What skills are necessary or what prepared you the most for your career?

Willingness to work hard is a must. A career in surgery means a lifetime of early days, long hours and hard work. But the benefits of a career that is honorable, altruistic and never boring make the work worthwhile. You have to be sure that being a surgeon is what you truly want, then the hard work becomes less work and more exciting and fulfilling. Also important is humility and not being afraid to admit when you don’t know how to do something. Sometimes you have to put pride aside and ask for help rather than putting a patient in jeopardy.

What professional associations have aided in your professional development?

I think one of the most valuable tools to help build a career in medicine is to form strong relationships with mentors in the field you choose. Also, the American Medical Student Association holds a residency fair and speciality showcase where representatives from many different fields in medicine are available to answer questions and give advice.

Anything you would like to add?

My time at Georgetown shaped me as the person and surgeon I am now. I value so highly the relationships I built while in medical school, both with peers and mentors. Georgetown has so many approachable and respected physicians who are truly dedicated to education – it’s really up to the students to take advantage of the opportunities available to them.

Plans Accepted:

Source:  George Town Alumni Online

To find out more about Dr Swaroop, visit: http://www.nmh.org

Dr Vineeta T Swaroop’s Current Location:
345 E. Superior, Ric 1136
Chicago, IL 60611, United States\
+1 312-238-2235

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About Stewart Andrew Alexander

Stewart Andrew Alexander is the Managing Editor of Medical Spotlights, an Online Digital Journal dedicated to bridging the gap between medical practitioners, and a growing public trying desperately to find jargon free information about doctors in their local areas.

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