Author: Aparna Bhasker



©️Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker As doctors, we love evidence-based medicine! Most of us believe in the old adage- “In God we trust. All others must bring data.” We are deeply impacted by impact factors and the graph of our pride rises in direct proportion to 

Embracing Authenticity: A Surgeon’s Journey Beyond Conformity

Embracing Authenticity: A Surgeon’s Journey Beyond Conformity

©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker The field of surgery has long been associated with images of masculinity – the stereotypical strong, authoritative and dominating figure giving orders in the operating room. These perceptions, however, fail to capture the true essence of surgical prowess and the diverse 



©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

As a medical professional, I interact with numerous individuals on a daily basis. While their primary reason for visiting me is related to medical or surgical concerns, I consider it a privilege to gain a brief insight into their lives during the limited time they spend with me.

Yesterday, I met Aisha (name changed), a 35-year-old woman seeking treatment for a ventral hernia. Engaging in conversations with my patients is a practice I deeply value, a habit instilled in me by my professor during my postgraduate years. He always emphasized that a simple conversation could unveil many a hidden diagnosis. This approach has become an enduring part of my practice, and I find great satisfaction in these conversations with my patients, gaining a deeper understanding not only of their disease but also of their life-stories.

During my conversation with Aisha, I discovered that she was a mother of seven children. The revelation took me by surprise when she shared that her last pregnancy resulted in quintuplets. Initially expecting a third child, they were unexpectedly blessed with five at once. Consequently, her family now includes an 11-year-old daughter, a 7-year-old son, and five 3-year-old daughters. The idea of having five three-year-old, little girls together is heartwarming but daunting at the same time. Raising a single child is demanding enough, so I can only imagine the immense challenges of raising five toddlers simultaneously. I presumed that Aisha’s primary focus must be on caring for her children, leaving little time for her own well-being. My concern deepened as I contemplated her post-operative period, wondering if she would have sufficient time to rest and recover.

Approaching the end of our consultation, Aisha caught me offguard with a question that stumped me. She wanted to know the duration of leave she would need from “work”. I had assumed that, with the responsibility of caring for her numerous young children, she must be a stay-at-home mother. Contrary to my well-intentioned assumptions, I discovered that Aisha was not only a devoted mother but also a highly accomplished professional in the finance industry in her country. I found myself not only surprised by Aisha’s profound passion for her profession but at the same time, was taken aback by the level of judgement and assumptions I had unconsciously made about another woman.

As I write this article, it has been almost 24 hours since I met Aisha. Throughout the hustle and bustle of yesterday, Aisha has continued to stay in my thoughts As, a lady surgeon, I have myself faced similar biases at different points in my life and career, and have actively worked to resist them. Yet, here I was, grappling with the same shortcomings that I have criticized the society for at times.

This incident served as an illustration of the profound nature of our own implicit biases. Despite being a woman and a working professional, I came to the realization that I, too, had fallen prey to the same biases and passive gender roles embedded in our society. Unfortunately, these biases are further perpetuated due to influences from media, political and legal systems, religious institutions, workplaces, and family networks. The cycle is completed when, unconsciously, even so-called empowered women like myself become victims of the same biases that confine us.

I spent the morning delving deeper into this issue and reading more about it. To my dismay, I realized that my experience was not unique. According to a study, around 75 percent of individuals tend to associate terms like business, profession, and work with “men,” while connecting terms like family, household, and caregiving with “women.” Recently, the Gender Social Norms Index discovered that 90% of individuals across all genders exhibit a bias against women, a statistic that worryingly remains unchanged from data collected over a decade ago. Notably, these biases pose significant obstacles for women in the realms of politics, business, and the workplace, resulting in the erosion of their rights and instances of human rights violations.

What’s even more worrying is that as the use of artificial intelligence becomes more widespread, it could reinforce these biases. AI language models draw extensively from existing publications, leading to the replication and amplification of prevailing gender biases. As Sasha Luccioni, a Research Scientist and Climate Lead at the machine learning company Hugging Face, aptly pointed out, “AI bias doesn’t emerge from thin air; it originates from the patterns we perpetuate in our societies.” Unfortunately, our societies are still struggling with the formidable challenge of attaining gender equality and remain far from its realization.

As for me, I recognized the importance of challenging my own biases and learning from the diverse experiences of my patients. The encounter with Aisha has prompted me to reassess my biases and adopt a more inclusive and empathetic perspective. Inspired by Aisha’s resilience, I am committed to advocating for a more woman-centric approach in my medical practice. I hope to explore more about the unique needs of my female patients, offering not only medical care but also a supportive environment for open discussions about their challenges and aspirations. Recognizing that personal biases are an ongoing challenge, even for a working professional woman like me, I hope to overcome them and establish a medical practice that is more inclusive and understanding.

PS: Image courtesy Bing AI

“WHAT NEXT” in 2024

“WHAT NEXT” in 2024

©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker Last year marked the grand celebration of our 25th batch reunion. It was a wonderful event that brought us all together once again. As we embraced each other after decades, the camaraderie was palpable. Late-night heart-to-heart conversations made us feel as 



Unseen Struggles: The Weight Beyond Weight ©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker This is the story of Shruti and Raj (names changed). A touching journey of profound emotions woven through an array of love, loss and unyielding hope amidst a backdrop of deepset societal prejudices and biases. 



©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

It was the last case on the list on that day. A very routine laparoscopic fundoplication that took an unexpected turn. In a fateful moment, a short gastric vessel ruptured, with torrential bleeding across the surgical field. Suddenly, all I could see on the screen was a bright red splash of colour obscuring everything else. A surge of panic coursed through me, and I could distinctly feel the rapid, intense pounding of my heart. My mind raced faster than my heartbeat – what if the bleeding couldn’t be stemmed, if the procedure needed conversion to an open surgery, if a splenectomy was necessary or worse, if things went south? And even though potential complications are always explained prior to surgery and consents are duly signed, in that intense moment, I felt intensely weighed down by the prospects of having to justify something like this to the patient and the family later.

Within a heartbeat, I regained composure, drawing strength from years of rigorous training and experience, and perhaps a touch of divine intervention. It felt like a battle I couldn’t afford to lose—a target that could not be missed. Complete focus became paramount, as every passing moment would reduce my chances of winning. In that fleeting instant, with unwavering determination, I seized control over the bleeding, witnessing the haemorrhage stop as abruptly as it had started. The field was clear once again. I heaved a big sigh of relief, went on to complete the surgery with my team and later everything was fine. The patient, unaware of the precarious precipice they skirted, recovered and was discharged, the episode fading into a memory of a successful surgery.


A surgeon’s silent struggle with the aftermath of such high-stress surgical moments is not much talked about. There exists an unspoken burden, an emotional fallout, that surgeons carry post-operation, which is unacknowledged by most.

As surgeons, we undergo rigorous training, assuming that alongside our surgical skills, we are equipped mentally to navigate these critical junctures. Yet, reality often diverges from this assumption. 

The weight of a patient’s life rests squarely on our shoulders, and when confronted with such intense scenarios, the physical, mental and emotional turmoil can be overwhelming.

Despite effectively managing the crisis, the haunting realization of what might have transpired, lingered for days in my mind. Although the entire episode during the surgery had lasted for just about 15 seconds or so, for many days, I experienced physical manifestations of stress – low energy levels, mild anxiety, throbbing headaches, neck spasms, and debilitating fatigue. It is not uncommon for doctors/surgeons to experience symptoms of acute gastritis, insomnia, spondylitis, diarrhoea and sometimes even menstrual irregularities as an aftermath of stress. 

As surgeons, we routinely navigate through high-intensity stress scenarios. The serene and composed atmosphere of the surgical field can transform into a battleground at any given moment. While our profession doesn’t grant medals for bravery, failure is simply not an acceptable option. This consistent and prolonged exposure to high-pressure scenarios spanning through a long surgical career, fosters chronic stress, which can further manifest physically as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other health issues. Additionally, it can exact an emotional and mental toll, potentially leading to various forms of depression. Higher suicide rates amongst doctors have remained a concern for quite some time now.

Reflecting on my own experience, this particular incident wasn’t the first of its kind in my clinical practice. Like many surgeons, such moments have become a familiar part of my daily life, too. We often internalize these experiences, deliberately understating their significance, avoiding extensive discussions or acknowledgment. What transpires within the operation theatre typically stays confined within those sterile walls. Over time, it’s almost as if we build walls around ourselves, inhibiting our willingness to share and communicate. 

Many of us in the surgical field, myself included, pride ourselves on our ability to swiftly forge ahead. The rationale being that immersing ourselves quickly back into work, aids in overcoming these thoughts and emotions, contributing to our resilience. However, this culture of resilience prevalent within the medical community, though admirable, often comes at a price. Surgeons are left to grapple with their emotions in solitary introspection, navigating uncharted emotional territories without the necessary guidance or support systems in place.


Firstly, acknowledging the impact of professional stress and the emotional burden that surgeons carry is essential. It involves recognizing that these experiences can have significant effects on mental and physical health, as well as on overall well-being.

Acceptance comes in understanding that it’s okay to take a step back and prioritize self-care. Many healthcare professionals often push themselves relentlessly, believing that taking a break or seeking support is a sign of weakness or may negatively impact their ability to care for their patients. However, this mindset needs to shift.

Being kinder to oneself means recognizing personal limits and the importance of self-compassion. Allowing time for rest, recuperation, and seeking support isn’t a sign of inadequacy but rather a necessary step towards maintaining mental health. A rested and emotionally balanced healthcare provider can potentially offer better care to their patients.

Taking breaks, seeking support networks, and practicing self-care can potentially enhance a surgeon’s mental clarity, emotional resilience, and overall effectiveness in their profession. It’s vital to understand that caring for oneself doesn’t compromise the quality of care provided to patients; in fact, it can enhance it.

A systemic shift in the medical culture is imperative. Encouraging a healthy work-life balance, emphasizing the importance of self-care, and destigmatizing seeking help for mental health challenges should be prioritized.

As surgeons, we are entrusted with the profound responsibility of preserving lives, a duty we hold with utmost reverence. However, it’s equally vital to recognize that safeguarding our mental and physical well-being is pivotal for providing optimal patient care. It’s time to acknowledge the unspoken toll on surgeons and pave the way for a healthier, more supportive environment within the medical community.



©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker, Mumbai, India The recent Cricket World Cup that concluded day before yesterday was an exhilarating spectacle, captivating fans worldwide. As we navigate the mixed emotions following our defeat, there’s been a thought lingering in my mind— more of a reflection that’s 



©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker A few days back, I took an old recycled cloth bag and threw in some coloring pens, a sketching pad, a pencil, an eraser, headphones, and a book that I am reading presently. Just out of a whim, I called this 



आज आईने में मैंने अपना चेहरा देखा; तो नज़र आई कुछ लकीरें……

कुछ लकीरों में चमकने लगी थी सफेदी, कुछ में हो रहा था थोड़ा सा दर्द,

कुछ लकीरें खिंच गईं थीं दिलोजान पर, कुछ  गई थीं रिश्तों के बीच,

कुछ मिट रही थी, कुछ नई बन रही थी,

कुछ थी ऐसी, जो किसी को नज़र नहीं  रही थी,

और कुछ ऐसी, जो चाह के भी, छुप नहीं पा रही थी.

आज आईने में मैंने अपना चेहरा देखा; तो नज़र आयें कुछ लकीरें…..

समझ नहीं पा रहे थे की; हम इनको कैसे करें कम, कशमकश में और डूबते जा रहे थे हम,

फ़िर एक दोस्त ने समझाया की, ये लकीरें ही ज़िन्दगी हैं,

ये लकीरें हम में हैं, और इन लकीरों में हैं हम.

समय के साथ सीखा हमने; लकीरों पे करना ऐतबार,

लकीरों की ख़ूबसूरती जो समझ ली हमने, जिंदगी का मजा ही हुआ कुछ और.

अब लकीरें कितनी भी हो टेढ़ी; चेहरे पे नहीं दिखती,

जो दिखती है कभी चेहरे पर, वो आती है बन के मुस्कुराहट,

और कहती हैं लकीरों से, कि हमसे हो तुम, और तुमसे हैं हम,

करते हैं मिलके मजा, क्यूंकि यही है जिंदगी की रजा.

आज जब फिर एक बार आईने में  मैंने अपना चेहरा देखा; तो नज़र ना आई कोई लकीरें…..

Be independent and free from within!

Happy Independence Day!

A Dramedy Of Errors!

A Dramedy Of Errors!

©️ Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker   This morning, I had to fly to Ahmedabad for a conference (#YoungHSICON). Last night, the Prince of Wales intrigued me so much that I couldn’t stop bingeing on the period drama that I was watching on Netflix. Even after