Meet our July Members of the Month, Dr. Shiv Pandey and Dr. Rhiju Poudel - a husband and wife team from almost a world away teaming up to practice in Monroe.
Get to Know Dr. Pandey and Dr. Poudel
Where did you grow up and tell us more about that?
Dr. Pandey: I was born and brought up in Shillong, a city in the northeastern part of India. It is also known as the “Scotland of the East” due to its similarity with the Scottish Highlands.
Dr. Poudel: I grew up in Kathmandu, capital of Nepal. It is a small valley surrounded by the Himalayas. I am the oldest of three siblings. My parents are college professors, and they always pushed me to excel academically. I had wanted to become a doctor ever since I remember. I grew up during a period of political turmoil in my home country - civil unrest, followed by the elimination of Monarchy and the subsequent political fallout. However, I always felt shielded between my books and my amazing family who encouraged me to achieve better at all times.
Tell us about your family.
Dr. Pandey: Growing up I was 1 of 4 brothers and 2 sisters so it was always a full and a fun house. The immeasurable loss caused by the untimely death of my father due to cancer gave me a direction for my educational pursuits. The desire to become a doctor who could heal and give hope to others was ingrained as a child. My mother is a strong woman who raised us and inculcated in us a boldness to follow our dreams. My elder brothers who were in their early 20s when my father died became the pillars of the family and sacrificed immensely to make sure that we had a roof over our heads and our education was not interrupted.
Dr. Poudel: Growing up, I had a knack for biology and medicine so being a doctor was a decision that came naturally to me. I was one of the 50 applicants to get a coveted scholarship to study Medicine after my high school and that path took me to Hunan, China. I lived in China for 6 years to complete my MBBS in Xiangya Medical School, Central South University. As part of the scholarship grant, I had to complete 2 years of work in rural Nepal. I worked in a primary health care center in Nepal for 2 years as the chief medical officer. It meant I was the only doctor in the middle of nowhere with 2 LPN and 1 RN to help me take care of everyone that walked through the door. It was both scary and exciting to work with minimal resources and no tertiary care within the next 50 miles. I have seen the power of preventative health and basic health education. It taught me the importance of primary care and that is probably why I decided to choose Family medicine as my career path. I came to Louisiana in the year 2015 after my marriage to Shiv. Louisiana means so much more to me as this is the place that helped me further my career path as a primary care provider, patient advocate, find my first ever house, and be a mother to my 7-month-old who loves the LSU tigers.
Can you briefly describe your career path?
Dr. Pandey: After medical school, I worked as a medical officer in different hospitals in New Delhi, India before moving to the United States. An opportunity to work for a year as a research fellow at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN brought me to the US. I matched in Family Medicine at Louisiana State University (Shreveport) Monroe Program in 2013. Since then, Louisiana has been our home. I served as the chief resident and completed my residency in 2016. I decided to stay in my program as a faculty member after my residency. I was appointed as the Associate Program Director in 2019. In December 2019, I was promoted to the prestigious position of a father and I love my new job.
Dr. Poudel: I came to Louisiana in the year 2015 after my marriage to Shiv. I started my residency in July 2017 and have enjoyed my time as a resident in the program.
How have your personal experiences influenced and inspired your work?
Dr. Pandey: When my father died of cancer, I saw first-hand how difficult it is for patients to navigate through end of life issues. Knowing what I know now, I realize how important it is to get good counseling by your doctor. This has motivated me to help my patient with the end of life issues. I find it gratifying to teach my residents about this significant role that we have to embrace as a primary care physician.
What’s your favorite aspect of family medicine?
Dr. Pandey: I am a big believer in making the place better than when I found it. This is my motto wherever I go. I am not afraid of changes and I believe change is necessary for any progress to happen. I bring this philosophy to my practice and my job as an Associate Program Director. This has been the favorite part of my job as well.
Dr. Poudel: I love the fact that I can build a rapport with the entire family and help them achieve their healthiest best no matter what stage in their lives. Representing my program at various regional and national meetings was a privilege. It was an honor to be selected as a scholar to the AAFP Family Medicine Leads Emerging Leader Institute and later as the first-ever Chief Resident of Education in the program.
Tell me something fun (unrelated to medicine) about yourself.
Dr. Pandey: My wife, Rhiju, and I love to travel. She is my favorite companion and the best one I know in figuring things out in an unknown place even with a language barrier. With her, my hobbies have evolved over the years. Photography is another interest that I enjoy. My latest hobby has been spending time and taking pictures of my 7-month-old who entertains us with his babbling.
Dr. Poudel: I can speak four languages – English, Nepali, Hindi, and Mandarin. Another fun fact - I would have pursued an acting career if not for medicine - the bug bit me in middle school when I won the best performance in an interschool competition. I was in an advertisement in the lead role that aired during prime time in Nepal. I was offered a role as a child actor in a movie back home, but my parents denied the offer.
What one-sentence advice would you give a new family physician?
If you want something you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done.