‘I still feel the same thrill as my formative years’

A qualified paratrooper who has served with the President’s bodyguard, Rashtrapati Bhavan and the elite Parachute Bridge of the Army. Brig (Dr) Harjinder Singh Bhatoe is a passionate neurosurgeon who finds his calm and peace in treating his patients and seeing them healthy again. He shares his experiences and excerpts from his journey with Nikita Agarwal.

Q.1 When/how did you decide to become a Neurosurgeon?

Since my under graduation days, I had an aptitude for Surgery. I completed my postgraduation in General Surgery from Delhi in 1986, and was immensely influenced by the Neurosurgeons in the Army. I began looking up to them as my role models, and soon, I had this idea buzzing in my mind that Neurosurgery is the field I have to be in. Unlike other surgical specialties where the surgeon operated on your specified part/organ/system, a Neurosurgeon deals with the patient’s very essence of existence, the brain. That was very fascinating, sending my imagination racing.

Q.2 How was your experience while you served in the Medical Services of the Armed Forces?

Armed Forces Medical Services is the best system of healthcare delivery in the country. We imbibe the ethos of military and be part of the great fraternity. Every soldier or his family member brought to us for treatment becomes a reason of our existence. This is especially true in combat situations, where we develop a lifelong bond with an injured or ill patient who may be brought to us in the most unforgiving situations. The officers and men too, once they have been treated by a doctor in combat situation, remember him/her forever. It is this faith of the soldiers that is sacrosanct, and the greatest asset for a doctor in the Armed Forces. My overall experience is one of fulfilment and gratitude, for having been of service to the forces.

Q.3 What was your aim when you started your professional journey? Have you achieved it?

As is true of any other doctor on graduation, I too was starry eyed, eager to reach a coveted status and contributing something unique to the medical field. I aimed to be the best professional in the field, caring for the members of the forces with compassion, delivering the best possible Neurosurgical expertise. A patient who was unconscious initially when walks into my outpatient weeks later makes me feel that I did the right thing. A belief that every brain can bounce back after devastating injury, is what keeps me going. Have I achieved my aim? I do not think so. It is an unending quest.

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