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A personal Thanksgiving note

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by M. P. Ravindra 
Nathan MD, FACC, FACP
Brooksville, FL
Special to The Hernando Sun

    
It has been over four decades since I immigrated to the U.S. and Thanksgiving has always been a celebratory holiday in our family circles too. Right from childhood, we have been taught to say “thank you for every gift, favor, help or a kind gesture” that we have received. Having lived in the US and enjoyed all its bounty so far, I’ll be remiss in my duty if I don’t say “Thank you, America,” as we once again get ready to celebrate the holidays. For me, it’s much more than a holiday to celebrate with a turkey dinner shared with family and friends. It’s also a time for all of us and me personally to reflect and be thankful for all the blessings we have. 

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I came here primarily in search of advanced training and good professional experience in my chosen field of internal medicine and cardiology. Although I already had a lot of training first in India and then in England, I felt my training will not be complete until I’ve been exposed to American medicine and health care system since practice of medicine is far more advanced here compared to nearly all other countries. 

Although I have heard often enough that America welcomes all its immigrants and is a land of opportunity, I wasn’t sure what kind of reception somebody from a far off land will get at first. So it was with a little trepidation and self doubt I started my residency in Jewish Hospital Medical Center of Brooklyn, a reputed institution where Albert Einstein was once a patient. But I needn’t have worried; soon the lines blurred, I ceased to be a foreigner and became part of the medical staff with my own rights and privileges. I was accepted and soon found myself promoted to be the Chief Resident, a coveted position. Later, when I became a U.S. citizen, the stamp of approval was complete.  Then I knew America respects you for who you are and what you know without any reservations. And I learned that dedication and hard work define one’s success and the American dream is yours for the making.

But that was only the beginning of my career. New Jersey College of Medicine gave me a fellowship in cardiology and later Jersey City Medical Center appointed me as a full time attending cardiologist and Asst: Prof of Medicine. At that time I decided this is indeed the place for me, where I can work without any bias from anybody. In fact when people talk about discrimination, I often wondered if this is an exaggeration. Yes, such events do occur but except on rare occasions I have hardly faced any prejudices.  

When I moved into Hernando County to practice medicine some thirty five years ago, I was warned: “You are going to a southern conservative country, so be careful. It may take time to get established there.” But soon I found out that it’s your performance and ability to serve that count, more than your color or ethnicity. I am most grateful for the acceptance I got in this county, so I could continue to practice my specialty and retire from my cherished profession when I finally decided to so. Later, my two children went through the local school system and graduated from Hernando High and went on to complete their medical studies and specialty training without any difficulty.  

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But my real bonus came when I became severely ill several times during a span of ten years. First I had to go through multiple cardiac interventions for chest pain including two emergency procedures. I doubt if I could I have gotten such superb cardiac care as I got in the hospitals in Hernando and Pasco Counties in any other country. Later I had to undergo a somewhat exotic surgery, a kidney transplantation in Minneapolis under the care of Dr Najarian, one of the world’s foremost specialists in such surgery. The event turned out to be a true obstacle course given the numerous complications I suffered that needed truly expert care. And thanks to that care, I’m still active and volunteering as a cardiologist in the free clinic in Spring Hill, FL, after retirement. 

America, I am happy that from my own experience, you honor those who serve their community and who strive to make a difference.  Coming from another continent, you accepted me for who I am and encouraged and nurtured me to the position I am in today. As Thanksgiving holidays arrive every year, a wave of immense gratitude washes over me; I cannot thank you enough for the wonderful blessings you have bestowed upon me and my family. It’s indeed a great privilege to live in a country the national ethos of which includes freedom and opportunity to work hard and prosper. That’s why most of the civilized world still looks up to you for guidance and help.

M. P. Ravindra Nathan MD, FRCP (Lond & Canada), FACC, FACP, FAHA
Cardiologist, Crescent Community Clinic, Spring Hill, FL
Author: “Stories from My Heart” (amazon.com)
Emeritus Editor: AAPI Journal

 

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