Throwback Thursday: Dr. Archna Sachar

Content credits: Yatee Samantaray

Design credits: Vaishnavi Singh, Bhavya Jain

Web post credits: Elvin Joshua Pinto

Did you always want to be an ENT Surgeon? How did you navigate between the various career paths?

I believe during my undergraduation ENT was one of those branches that was not given a lot of attention. During the first half of my MBBS I was focusing more on studying the anatomy, physiology, pathology of major systems creating a foundation for subjects like Medicine and Surgery, the most extensive subjects of final year. I think that’s how it’s been structured for a long time. So at that time I was interested in Endocrinology and Nephrology and thus thought of medicine as my career option. But I’ll be honest, during my third year of MBBS I was really intrigued by the subject ENT. It was something so fresh for me, the anatomy to start with and how it honestly is an amalgam of multiple structures within and outside the scope of the ear, nose and throat affecting it indirectly. However I never saw myself as a surgeon at the time. It was during my internship that I realised I enjoy the intricacies of performing surgeries. It allows me to apply myself in ways medicine wouldn’t allow. I found the epitome of my medical journey at the juxtaposition of a surgery hall, where the calmness in the room driven through skill comes at a crossroads with the tension in the ward praying for a positive outcome. In its essence, I find it to be in many aspects what makes our field so fulfilling. This coupled with the many surgeries I was encouraged and enabled to be a part of during my ENT postings through my internship helped me decide that this was what I wanted to do.

What did you enjoy the most about your MBBS?

I think being carefree and the lack of a sense of responsibility in general was a blessing back then. Now that I know my actions can cost a life it has pressing consequences on my lifestyle and approach to work and society.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being an ENT surgeon?

I really don’t want to but I’m going to have to give a contradicting answer here. I love how most of the surgeries are so intricate in ENT. The complexity brings with it a high sense of satisfaction. Moreover, working on a part of the body where such minute constructs have such far reaching consequences on optimum bodily functioning brings about a daily reminder of how magnificent the human anatomy is.

It’s what drives me to constantly improve, learn and grow because there is still so much about the body we yet don’t know. Even after centuries of study in medical sciences by many brilliant individuals, we’re still discovering more and will keep discovering more.

It’s an amazing daily reminder that I’m part of such an amazing community.

But at the same time I’m not a fan of using microscopes for a long time which is a big part of ENT as most of our structures are microscopic. It begins to strain my eyes but I guess it’s a matter of getting used to it!!

What advice would you like to give students aspiring towards ENT?

I feel first of all there won’t be many students who would come forward with a specific interest in ENT, maybe because of the academic structure. So I want to put in a general word for all those who are trying to figure out their field. If surgery is what you like is the first question you must ask yourself.
Next is if you find the Anatomy of the structures that we mainly come across in ENT interesting and fascinating. Honestly I’m not a fan of anatomy myself but there’s something so cool about the structures we deal with here.
Also if you don’t have a particular interest at present and want an objective opinion, ENT is a peaceful option to settle with. It is relatively specialized but also has a great variety within itself- otology, rhinology, laryngology, allergy, head and neck. In future you can choose any of these and also go into plastic surgery, oncology, neurosurgery! The scope is great with none for boredom!

How would you describe your work-life balance?

Aaaahhh what a banger… So I strongly believe that more important that Bank balance today is work life balance. I struggle to maintain it and trust me it’s the biggest challenge I’ve faced. One can’t be all about work. For us to be productive there has to be more to life. Now in order to maintain this I sadly have to sacrifice my sleep. That’s the only way I’m able to make time. Tho late, I’ve learnt that sometimes it’s okay for things to be just undone. Identifying where and when can I abuse this rule was golden. Basically prioritisation becomes key in a field where at times you may feel that you’re letting go of a patient, which is the essence of being a doctor.

But then again the whole point of being a doctor is the ability to delineate cases and assign priorities to them to maximize life and minimise death. That’s the most important skill to develop aside from technical expertise, which is a definitive baseline.

What’s an unexpected challenge you’ve encountered in your PG?

Being presentable in the manner considered professionally acceptable is very stressful. Irrespective of how I am feeling and what I am going through I’m expecting to always without an exception at all times be compassionate, responsible, sensitive and actively participate in patient care whenever they approach me. Sometimes it’s just difficult to put on a plastic smiling face but it guess that’s the way to go now.