“Healing requires understanding of both the big picture as well as the microscopic level. The art is in putting those two together.”
Vasanth Kainkaryam, Internist, Pediatrician, father, husband, author, baker, patient, and someone who is trying to make a little change in how I can care for people…I got into Cornell University for my undergraduate degree and started off as a Biology major but then added a second major: Linguistics. I realized there is something so fundamental about learning about principles of human communication and language, which are the building blocks of relationships. (I’m always open to learning more, so teach me what you know!). During my time there, I also spent a short time living in Geneva, Switzerland, working at the World Health Organization. I got to attend the World Health Assembly, listening to health care leaders across the world talking about their challenges.
Within my first year of college, I was diagnosed with cancer. Throughout this journey, I felt and understood what it was like to fear death, I saw how disease affects families and parents, I learned far more about primary and secondary insurances and health plans than I ever wanted to, and yet through it all, I got lucky – I had fantastic doctors and teams who worked together to help me. I felt cared for. I was inspired and realized that while I could follow many paths, this was the one I needed to do — perhaps a nod to the meaning of my last name: “service.”
I spent 4 years at the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry, where the biopsychosocial model of care came from — thinking about a person’s health in all aspects. I gained a fascination for the health care needs of the Deaf community (and the difference between the capital D – Deaf vs. lower case d – deaf). I worked on developing learning opportunities for medical students in the health care of the Deaf community, and also learned a bit of sign language. I got exposed to what it was to be a “Med-Peds” doctor – a doctor who was both an Internist (a specialist in adult medicine) and a Pediatrician (a specialist in childhood medicine), and decided that’s what I wanted to be.
I came to do my training at Baystate Medical Center (which at the time was affiliated with Tufts University School of Medicine), and spent four years training there – gaining exposure to both the outpatient side of care as well as the hospital side, including training in neonatal, medical, cardiac, and pediatric intensive care units.