15 Nov 2017 A Surgeon with a Passion to Teach
Greatly inspired by a surgeon, Prof Wan Hazmy and seeing the relief of the patient afterwards encouraged Gandhi Nathan Solayar into the sub-specialties of hip, knee and shoulder surgery after his Orthopaedic speciality training. For Gandhi who enjoyed physics back in school, Orthopaedics made a lot of sense to him when he did an elective as a medical student. He was also inspired by many other surgeons throughout his career namely Prof Mulhall, Mr Shannon and Mr Kaar (during his time in Ireland) who motivated him towards these sub-specialities.
When asked why he chose a career in medicine, Gandhi said, “Honestly, I chose medicine for job security (in the 90’s, being a doctor secured you a job with a decent pay). I initially struggled with grades in the early part of medical school. However, I did well towards the end and graduated with honours from Trinity. Personally, I only felt that my choosing medicine was justified when I started getting the satisfaction of helping patients as a junior doctor and this satisfaction remains.”
Gandhi’s foray into medicine started at the International Medical University (IMU) in 1998. He studied at the University for 2.5 years before transferring to Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) where he graduated with honours in 2004.
Recalling back the good times at the universities where he studied, Gandhi said, “My best memory of IMU would be the IMU Cup – games where I participated with my batch-mates (M2/98) and won a lot of medals. In Trinity, the best memory I have was the privilege of being on the honours roll and having the great fortune of meeting my future wife.”
“After my degree, I completed my internship at St James’s Hospital from 2004 to 2005. I then completed the two year Basic Surgical Training programme under the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and received my memberships (MRCSI) in 2007. Following this, I worked as a lecturer at University College Dublin (UCD) and pursued my Master’s degree (MCh) at the same time. In 2008, I joined the Orthopaedic specialist training programme run by the National Orthopaedic Hospital (Cappagh) in Ireland culminating with the fellowship degree in 2013 (FRCS Trauma & Orthopaedics).
During my training, I also completed the Diploma in Sports & Exercise Medicine from the Faculty of Sports Medicine UK in 2012 and the Diploma of Orthopaedics from the International Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (Societé Internationale de Chirurgie Orthopédique et de Traumatologie – SICOT) in the same year. Following this, I completed three sub-speciality fellowships over the course of 2 years in hip, knee and shoulder surgery before returning back to Malaysia.”
After the completion of his sub-specialties, Gandhi returned to Malaysia and joined his alma mater IMU as a lecturer to indulge his passion for teaching. “I was fortunate that IMU was able to hire me with my previous experience working as a lecturer in Ireland. Now, I enjoy the best of both worlds. Both as a clinician and surgeon at Hospital Tuanku Ja’afar and as a lecturer at IMU, helping to guide the doctors of the future.”
In Gandhi’s opinion, Malaysia could improve further in terms of patient education. While the technology and expertise are available here, patients tend to shy away from complex or revision procedures more so here than in Europe or Australasia. There is also the attitude of “being too old” when dealing with some patients and their families. He added, “Having said that, I thoroughly enjoy my working life here. It is great to speak Malay, Tamil and “Manglish” again after so long and nothing beats a nice plate of Nasi Lemak for breakfast!”
“I do personally feel that I have been fortunate to have done and achieved much in my career thus far. In return, my motivation to succeed further lies in the responsibility I feel that as a surgeon, I need to give back to the people in my own way and to keep the Malaysian flag flying high in terms of Orthopaedic surgery at home and overseas.”
Besides his multiple portfolios of being an Orthopaedic Surgeon, Head of Department (IMU Clinical School) and lecturer, Gandhi is also actively engaged in research. He has been involved in many clinical and laboratory based research projects over the years and was won multiple grants and awards for this. He has authored numerous publications and articles in the field of Orthopaedics and presented many times at major international scientific conferences. At present, he is heading multiple clinical studies in Hospital Tuanku Ja’afar in the field of joint replacement and sports surgery.
When asked about his future, the award winning IMU Alumnus said “I intend to consolidate my position as an Orthopaedic surgeon and academician. I hope to improve the position of HTJ as a center of excellence in arthroplasty (joint replacement) surgery and to publish more clinically relevant research. I hope that in this process, I may inspire the next generation of clinicians in becoming all that they can be.”
His advice to current and future medical students is “take things on your stride while ensuring that you always have a clear goal to achieve. Though the road may seem hard, as long as you remain honest and diligent, it will be worthwhile in the end.”