Dr. Priya Mendiratta, MPH, AGSF, faculty member and Director of Geriatric Clerkship in the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, was interviewed by the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) for the Profiles section of their website. Here is the published interview:
How has being part of an inter-professional community helped you in your career and professional life? As a clerkship director, I was looking to make changes for fourth year medical students and was feeling alone, so I turned to the greater geriatrics community on MyAGSOnline (AGS’s discussion forum). By posting just one question to ask for advice, I had chairs and clerkship directors from all over the country emailing me and sharing their curriculum, which was extremely helpful. While going for a promotion to Associate Professor with tenure at my university, it was very helpful to find external reviewers. They gave invaluable advice for the promotion. I have to say thank you to my AGS community.
As a young professional, what types of AGS resources are most important to you? Clinical, educational, and research resources, as well as updates on health policies and new changes proposed.
How have your personal experiences and stories helped shape the way you practice? I had complications while pursuing my geriatrics fellowship after an emergency surgery. It took a whole year to be fully diagnosed after many physician and specialist visits, and finally was resolved completely when a surgeon patiently listened to my full story. It taught me important lessons to listen to my patients and to believe them, as it can change their quality of life and get them the help they need. It has also helped me make healthier lifestyle choices, which I always discuss and encourage my patients to follow.
What inspires you? Everyone at AGS inspires me, and that is why I keep coming to the meeting every year. It is an honor to meet hard working, motivated folks in geriatrics who every day go above and beyond what is expected of them to make someone’s life better.
Do you have a favorite story about a patient, family caregiver, mentor or other person who has touched you personally and/or professionally? Mrs. D was my first patient in my fellowship at a geriatric clinic. We started rather awkwardly—I introduced myself and told her I was new. She smiled, reassuring me we’d get along fine. At the end of the session she reminded me to send her the lab work early, and complimented me on a thorough visit. We had many more sessions over the next decade. We discussed more than her health – her life, work and her children. When my twins were born, she brought them hand-knitted sweaters and socks. She never left a visit without seeing a picture of my children or asking how they’re doing. I realized there is never a one-way exchange in a relationship between physicians and patients. After Mrs. D’s death, I called her daughter and she told me that many times in her last days, she remembered me and proudly discussed with the hospital staff that she had seen all the progress of my career. I feel truly blessed that she was my patient and it was an honor to know her.