Advice You Don’t Want To Miss from Dr. Arvind Koshal

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We kick off our Dr. Arvind Koshal series with "Advice You Don't Want To Miss."
Dr. Koshal has not only played a key role in saving countless lives in operation rooms, but he also is a visionary who put things into action to establish one of the world's biggest heart institute: the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute. He has won multiple awards in medicine including the Wilbert J. Keon Award for his contribution in cardiac surgery and he was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008. We had the privilege of sitting down with him for an interview, and it is exciting to bring you what he had to say in our interview.
It depends on the environment you are in. You have somebody, or few people working that hard. You just try to do the same.
What led you to win multiple awards in medicine?
With my background in India, the focus was always on my studies. My father was a surgeon and he had high standards for me. I was always taught to try be the best wherever I was. You just put in the time, a lot of hours, and luck helps. If I had to give you the same advice I have given to my kids, when they were in their undergraduate years, it's this: I said there are 2 things that are important in life. Firstly, your name should always be respected. Whatever you do, make sure you never tarnish your own name. Secondly, work hard. I do not know any successful person who has not worked hard. You can live an average life, but if you want to succeed, you've got to put in the hours.
Was there anything specific you did to win those gold medals?
Well, I knew the target, and I knew the competition so I just went at that level and tried to beat the other guys like in sports. And it depends on the environment you are in. You have somebody, or few people working that hard. You just try to do the same.

Do you have any advice for students studying medicine?

First of all, I think being a medical student is a privilege. The moment you get into medicine, you know that you will have a career. You are not going to be looking for jobs. Secondly, I do believe that it is one of the best professions out there, but I am biased. For all the time being here, I’ve heard, “thanks for saving my life” and it’s just normal to us, but for most other people, if one person told them “thanks for saving my life,” then you would say, "I’ve done wonderful." For us, especially in cardiac surgery, everyday you walk in and a couple of lives are at stake. So we never let that get to our heads.
Also, medicine allows you to "explore" because it’s not a complete science. Medicine is the opportunity to explore, invent and discover. You will be dealing with human lives – somebody’s mother, brother, sister, or father – and you will make their lives better. They can live longer, and you can certainly help them at a time of distress. In addition, you can teach, you can do research, and people still respect the medical profession. Totally biased. [laugh]

Photo Credit: VinothChandar on Flickr
Jimmy Kang

Jimmy Kang is a second year science/business student at the University of Alberta, co-founder/ director of Pro Story.