Growing up, Dr. Anita Raghavan dreamt of becoming a scientist. A curious creature, always eager to learn more, she spent her days taking things apart and figuring out how stuff worked. But in the end, she followed the path of medicine after discovering “the most fascinating ‘machine’ was the human body.”
As Akron Children’s Hospital’s newest pediatric hospitalist, Dr. Raghavan diagnoses, treats and manages children’s care during their stay as an inpatient. When asked about her favorite part about her role, the little scientist in her loves figuring out how to get kids better and back to smiling again.
Which emoji do you use the most?
I use the shrugging emoji all the time! I use it when I don’t know an answer or when the situation warrants me to shrug it off. I’m pretty flexible and laid back so when we are planning dinner, outings or even what movie to watch I use this emoji.
Also, I think it’s important for doctors to be able to say, “I don’t know.” It shows we aren’t human encyclopedias, but our training and knowledge gives us the ability to find the answer. When teaching residents and medical students, I always tell them it’s OK to say, “I don’t know,” but then to follow it up with, “But, I will find out for you.”
Why did you want to become a doctor?
I have always loved science. As a kid, it was my favorite subject in school. I also loved taking things apart and figuring out how stuff worked. In the end, I found the most fascinating “machine” out there is the human body, which is how I found medicine. There are always questions that don’t have answers and even though we are all human, each individual’s body works differently, especially kids. They are the best patients, and I enjoy figuring out how to make them better!
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Italy a few times. My husband and I (in an alternate reality) would love to give up everything, move to a small villa in Tuscany with a small vineyard, unplug and live the slow life, where everything you eat grows around you and you are surrounded by beauty. Now, if only we could find a way to pay for this!
What is the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
Ever since our son was born, I always check on him via the baby monitor to say goodnight. He’s been asleep for hours before I go to bed, and I miss those hugs and kisses at the end of the day. When working overnight in the hospital, I can do the same thing! We’re lucky to have such awesome technology; I get peace of mind seeing him even though he’s not in the room with me.
What piece of advice did someone give you when you were young that still resonates with you today?
I had a mentor early on who told me, “People may not remember what you said or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” In practice, I know it doesn’t matter how much I explain a disease to a family or even if I make their child better, but it’s the feelings of being cared for, heard, understood and appreciated that they will carry with them always.
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
Our immediate family includes my husband, Kunal, and our 1-year-old son, Avi. My husband used to work in business, but went back to medical school 10 years later than most people. He is now training as a resident at the Cleveland Clinic, which is what brought us to Ohio, to become an oncologist.
We are really close with both of our parents and see them at least once a month. I am an only child, but my husband has a sister and a 2-year-old nephew. Although they live in New York, we try and see them a few times a year. Our son and his cousin FaceTime almost every day! Growing up an only child, I want my son to feel as if his cousins are his siblings.
What’s your favorite movie/book/TV show/sports team?
I am a closet fantasy/sci-fi geek. I love this genre of books and movies, but have a VERY hard time picking my all-time favorite. Right now, I’m immersed in “The Wheel of Time,” a 14-book series by Robert Jordan. I love being able to disappear into these other worlds and I find my imagination is more vivid than watching TV. I also read the “Game of Thrones” series. My husband and I are pumped for the last season, which starts in April.
What’s your favorite food? Who makes it best?
My family is originally from India, specifically southern Chennai, and my favorite food is the local cuisine. It’s different from what many know as mainstream Indian food. Of all these dishes, my favorite is something called Dosa. It’s a thin lentil crepe that is eaten with a variety of dips (My favorites are coconut chutney or a spicy red pepper oil dip.). My grandma makes these the best, but it might be because she’s been perfecting this recipe for almost 70 years (she’s 86). Mine never turn out as good as hers!
What’s your quote, mantra or personal slogan you live by?
I love the quote: “The eyes do not see what the mind does not know.” I incorporate this philosophy into my work by learning as much as possible, whether from other’s stories, reading as much as I can or listening to podcasts. I know I won’t ever know everything and that’s why it’s important to be aware of my own blind spots, too. I also follow this philosophy in daily life: get informed, learn about our town, state, country and the rest of the world. Knowledge is probably the most powerful tool I have in my toolbox!
Do you have a special hobby/interest or a way you like to give back/volunteer?
I have some experience and enjoy working in health-care innovation. I try to keep up on the latest trends that are attempting to bridge the gap between what the patient needs or wants and what is currently being offered in the health-care setting. I have had the chance to work with some startups to lend a physician’s voice to their products and advise on how to enter the hospital marketplace. It’s fun to be on this cutting edge, and it’s really inspiring to see what people are developing out there!