A maze of quiet corridors, smelling strongly of disinfectant, leads to the pathology department at KEM Hospital, Parel. There, in a small cabin full of books and medical paraphernalia, pathologist Pragati Sathe sits bent over a microscope.
Sathe, 37, is an associate professor at the SGS Medical College attached to KEM and also serves as a pathologist for the hospital. She has worked with KEM for 11 years and now also heads a team of 12 trainees, technicians and junior lecturers.
Ever since she was a medical student, Sathe says she has found pathology the most interesting branch of medicine, because it is the foundation of all treatment, aiding in diagnosis and seeking answers to how and why a disease occurs.
“Although I work in all fields of pathology — surgical, oncological, gastrointestinal, etc — my main interest is paediatric pathology,” she says, “because it covers a wide spectrum of diseases while other branches concentrate only on one disease or organ.”
Paediatric pathology also allows the medical practitioner to observe the development of the human body from its earliest days, she says, and this too is fascinating. Sathe starts her day at 6 am, making breakfast and hot packed lunches for herself, her husband Aditya, a biochemistry professor, and their eight-year-old daughter, in the kitchen of the one-bedroom flat in Andheri (West) that they share with Aditya’s parents.
After a bath, Sathe leaves for work at 8.15 am so she can clock in at 9.30.
Usually, she starts her day testing specimens that arrived from operating rooms the day before, trying to find out if they carry the suspected disease, determining the extent to which the disease has spread, then submitting a report to the respective OR.
“Often, I get specimens for urgent diagnosis. They are rushed to me while a surgery is in progress and I have 20 to 30 minutes to conduct my tests and file my reports so that the surgery can continue accordingly,” she says.
Between 1 pm and 2 pm, if there are no urgent diagnoses pending, Sathe eats her lunch of rotis and sabzi at her desk.
About three times a week, she also conducts lectures and tutorials for medical students.
Besides lectures, tests and diagnoses, Sathe maintains records at the lab, supervises the work done by her team and sets aside time to study rare cases in reference books and on the internet and to attend meetings with fellow pathologists so that she can stay abreast of new developments.
At 4.30 pm, Sathe packs up for the day and heads home, usually getting there at 6 pm, around the same time as her husband. After resting for a while, Sathe begins cooking dinner at 7 pm, then helps with her daughter’s homework. After a dinner of dal, rice, roti and sabzi at 9 pm, the family turns in at 10.
Besides a weekly day off on Sundays, Sathe and her family holiday twice a year, usually travelling within India. Occasionally, they also take short trips to their bungalow at Kihim beach in Maharashtra’s coastal Raigad district.
In her free time, Sathe likes to paint and sketch, particularly landscapes.
“This is the best job you can have,” says Sathe. “The hours are decent, there is ample leave, the pay is good. Most importantly, at the end of the day I am satisfied because I feel I have done something worthwhile.”
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