Dr. Padmini Bhadriraju

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Dr. Padmini Bhadriraju

Like many other professionals dedicated to their craft,
Dr. Padmini Bhadriraju, often referred to by colleagues as “Dr. B” realized a career in medicine would be in her future at an early age. She counts her father as her biggest role model. “My father was a general practitioner and ophthalmologist and he is my hero,” said Dr. Bhadriraju. “I must have been a tiny little girl when I decided I wanted to become like dad and be a physician.”

One in a family of six children living in India, Dr. B began medical school at the age of 16. This is typical of schooling in India, and education was always an important part of her parents’ teachings. Of the children, two of her siblings also chose to pursue careers in healthcare, while the others followed pathways into science and IT. “My father always said education is the best equalizer of all inequalities. It’s because of this education that I have been able to do so many wonderful things and meet so many wonderful people.”

Dr. B chose to move to the Rio Grande Valley in 2009, primarily due to the excellent school systems available for her children, such as the Science Academy of South Texas and IDEA Academy. Previously, Dr. B and her family lived in Michigan, where she had her internal medicine residency and prior to that, she worked for years as a physician in Ghana, West Africa. Here in the Valley, she has held numerous roles, including as a primary care physician, a hospitalist physician and even as Chief Medical Officer at Knapp Medical Center up until 2015. “All the hospital systems here have been very supportive,” she said. “There is a good, healthy competition, which is very necessary for growth. It has been a great journey here in the Valley, and I continue to learn and teach every day.”

Over the years Dr. B has honed her skills in several areas of medicine including women’s wellness and senior care, though it is internal medicine that she finds the most rewarding. “With internal medicine, you take care of the whole patient,” she said. “Health is not just treating a disease. It is a lot more than that. Many times, there are so many social, economic and family support issues. As an internalist, you are able to grow with your patient and see the big picture of their health.” Dr. B takes pride in making herself available to patients 24/7, even though her days are long. On a typical day, she may work 16-18 hours, and then head home to cook dinner for her husband and two children. She recalls times, earlier in her career, when her children did their homework in the hospital lounge while she worked. “My husband and my kids have been extremely supportive. That has been a very big blessing.” Her daughter is now following in her professional footsteps, training for the MCAT, while her son, who had two books published at the age of 12, is also contemplating a career in the medical field.

When it comes to the future of healthcare in the Rio Grande Valley, Dr. B notes a lack of preventative care as an issue that must be addressed. She sees a growing need for education about preventable diseases, as well as more doctors to address the needs of the community. As a physician advisor, Dr. B is dedicated to guiding physicians toward more effective methods of healthcare. “I very actively participate in educating physicians. That is something I wholeheartedly get involved in,” she said. She also works closely with case management to ensure that patients receive the best kind of care. “It is almost like playing music. You have to take care of both sides.”

In addition to treating illness with medicine, one of her greatest philosophies includes stressing the importance of gratitude, faith, and a positive mindset.

And although Dr. B admits she has gone through difficult times on her path, she emphasizes the power of a positive mindset and a healthy work-life balance. This includes, for her, plenty of family time, taking time to meditate, and giving thanks for her many blessings, including her rewarding career.

“I just love being a physician. I feel so grateful. The same enthusiasm and gratitude I had when I started medical school, I still have it. It’s a privilege to have the trust of a patient with their care,” she said. “If a student is contemplating a career in medicine, the most important thing is that you have to love what you do. Being a physician is an amazing opportunity and you can make such a difference. It is a long journey but do not give up.”

“For me, the glass is always half full,” she said. “If there is any adverse situation, it is just an opportunity for you to learn something and grow from it. You must have an attitude for gratitude. That is what I have been practicing, and it is amazing.”

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