Published: 31st May 2010
Heera Rajagopal - Dr Vasanthi, to me you represent a quiet dignity which is a paramount quality to have, especially in the practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. Would you say this is a quality you inherited from your mother or other female members of your family?
Dr. D. Vasanthi – I spent a lot of time with my grandmother as my mother was busy taking care of my younger siblings. My grandmother like my father was gentle and dignified, I probably get it from them.
HR - What influenced you in your formative years that prompted you to pursue the medical profession and why gynecology?
DV – I had a fascination for doctors from the time I was in the 2nd or 3rd standard in school and would write my name as Dr. Vasanthi in my schoolbooks. My father who knew of my interest encouraged me towards the medical profession.
I was in a perplexing situation while choosing gynaecology. I used to accompany my senior colleagues on night duties who were doing their post graduation in OBGYN, as I was fascinated with deliveries. And I started conducting deliveries when I was in my final year. I also started suturing the perineal tears.
On the other hand, I also loved pediatrics as children fascinated me. My father who wanted me to become a pediatrician passed away when I was in the final year of MBBS. And when I later got engaged, I was in a dilemma. My father–in-law who was a doctor himself guided me to opt for OBGYN as it involved the mother and child.
HR – Since your father was such a big influence on your life, his passing away during your final year of collage must have been a very difficult time for you.
DV - I was going through my final year examination at that point and no one told me. If I had failed the exam, it was as good as failing and those days it was difficult to get a seat in post graduation courses. It was a time when seats were not bought, they were by merit only.
It was a decision that my uncles, brothers and friends took. I was in the hostel in Vizag. As my father was a Rotary founder president, it was mentioned in the newspapers and they even hid the newspapers that reported his death. I was informed of his death on the train when I was returning home after finishing my examinations—I was there for his 21st day ceremony.
HR – I am so sorry for your loss. I can see it still tears you apart.
DV – Definitely, it still hurts. I did medicine for him and he was not there to see me as a full-fledged doctor.
HR - Were there other people who inspired you along this journey?
DV – Dr. Sathyabama Reddy. I met her in Vizag while doing my post-graduation, she was a professor of OBGYN. She could be very strict yet at the same time be very jovial. She would see to it that you are comfortable and she was approachable. She was willing to share information, a very kind person plus a very good teacher.
Later on when I went to Jamaica I met Ellis Robinson, a person who trained in the UK. I worked under her as a registrar to start with, she molded me to be a very good OBGYN. Our way of training is very different in India. I was more refined after going to the West Indies and working with her.
HR - I know you buy books for your grandchildren. What advice would you give to children, young adults and parents to encourage reading and feeding the mind to assist in cognitive development?
DV - One should have a reading habit. I used to read a lot as a child. Now I do not have the time to read. But children should spend more time in reading and games of course. Molding a person in the right manner from childhood makes a lot of difference when they grow up—their outlook to the world, the way they interact with people and conduct themselves. I am sure there will be a lot of difference between an individual who is brought up in the right way opposed to someone who is glued to the TV. Those are the impressions that a child is going to carry. So developing a child's mind in the formative years makes a lot of difference.