FIX 19 Preview: Unleashing your Inner Witch or Wizard

Featuring Dr. Shyam Sivasankar

Embracing what makes you well

US Acute Care Solutions is a sponsor of FeminEM’s Idea Exchange 2019 (FIX), a two-day event featuring – among other standard conference fare – 32 TED-style talks from women and men in Emergency Medicine.

Four of the physicians are affiliated with USACS, so we interviewed several to offer a Q&A preview of their talks.

Shyam Sivasankar is affiliated with USACS through his fellowship at Dell Children’s Hospital of Central Texas. He just finished his fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine in June, where he focused on global health, medical education, and the intersection between medicine and media. Dr. Sivasankar is now PRN with US Acute Care Solutions.

Tell us about the talk you’re preparing.

As a medical student, I discovered a love for pediatric emergency medicine, and the basis for this talk all started with the nurses at Dell Children’s! You’ve gotta have fun with peds, and you’ve gotta create wellness into your work. So the nurses have this little spreadsheet where they sort kids into Hogwarts {from Harry Potter} houses. As in, “Oh, those kids are doing so well back there because they’re a house full of Hufflepuffs!” {For the uninitiated, the Hufflepuff house values hard work, patience, justice, and loyalty.}

There’s a lot of talk about physician burnout, so my talk is how to create an avenue for wellness in your work. Some places offer yoga or massages, but wellness is not a one size fits all, you have to do what truly brings you joy. My talk is entitled “Unleashing your inner witch or wizard” and specifically, embracing your inner Hermione and understanding the role of the “healer.” If you can incorporate your passion, what you really enjoy, into your work, it can bring you joy and bring others joy. For me, I love reading, I love Harry Potter, and I love peds, but the point is to use these things together to promote healing.

As I was designing my talk, I found so many connections: the talk also is about understanding teamwork, realizing that everyone has their own parts to play and also how understanding your own limits is not a sign of weakness. It’s about embracing your true self as a healer and sometimes healing isn’t about procedures, but simply about listening or providing sympathetic company.

Why is important for you to speak at FIX?

It’s a really interesting conference that offers perspectives that are outside of medicine. It really brings the human side of the job and brings out the struggles people face, broaches the holistic aspects of jobs and careers. What other place can I talk about Harry Potter and medicine? I haven’t been before, but I have watched a lot of the videos of the conference, and the founder is a mentor to me. She was excited when I talked to her about my idea for this talk.

Why did you want to become a physician?

I’ve always been interested in the sciences and did really well in chemistry and biochemistry. I really struggled in undergrad whether to go to vet school or med school, but eventually med school won out. I was especially drawn to pediatrics, and particularly the variety, excitement, and suspense of emergency medicine. It is a privilege to be able to care for my patients.