(This article is sponsored by Emerson Hospital)
|In Conversation With Manju Sheth
Dr. Manju Sheth is a Board Certified Internist with keen interest in women’s health. She is president of the Indian Medical Association of New England (IMANE) and works at Lahey Health.
Dr. Sheth, who has tremendous passion for women’s causes and community service, was voted Woman of the Year in 2011 as well top 50 most influential Indians in 2011 and 2012. Previously, she served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Asian Task Force for Domestic Violence and as a Co-chair for the first and successful fundraiser in 2010 for Saheli, an organization dedicated to supporting South Asian women and families in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In addition, Dr. Sheth also serves on the Executive Committee of the Indian American forum for Political education, which helps increase political awareness among South Asians.
Dr. Sheth has worked tirelessly on educating women in the community by organizing and leading health symposiums, free health screenings and workshops on financial empowerment of women. She also helped organize the first mega health expo with INEN in 2013 .She closely works with local charities to raise awareness about domestic violence and settlement of victims.She has also helped put together numerous successful fund raisers for great causes locally including Nirbhaya for Saheli in Sep2013
Dr. Sheth has been recognized for providing exceptional care to her patients and has received numerous awards for her work.She counts writing as one of her biggest passions and her series 'Chai with Manju' is the most well known series at India New England News.
Dr. Sheth is married to a physician Dr. Dipak Sheth and has a 15 yr old daughter Shaleen.
Please share with us some of the highlights under your leadership at IMANE?
When I took over as IMANE President, I said in my speech that every president brings his or her own vision and strength to an organization. My mission was community service and community outreach under my leadership. I have to say that I have been able to achieve these goals with the help of an excellent executive committee and board of trustees of IMANE.
We collaborated with INDIA New England News for a free mega South Asian Health Expo in April which was extremely successful and attended by nearly 800 people. We brought some of the best speakers from medical world of New England to educate our community and were supported by the area’s almost every South Asian organization in this venture. We also collaborated with Saheli for Nirbhaya fundraiser in September which was also successful in raising over $56,000 for victims of domestic violence in our own community .
On a personal level, I was also part of many great musical programs like the Burman show to name a few, which donated funds to IMANE charitable funds that we used to support free health clinics locally. We also organized some great medical, networking and social events for our medical community. In addition, we have planned a fabulous annual meeting of our organization coming up on Nov. 23, featuring great speakers like Dr. Vikas Sukhatme who will speak about “Yesterday's Medicine and Tomorrow’s Cures” and also our new Consul General of India Ambassador Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay will be our honorable speaker. I must say that it has been a very busy and at the same time a very productive year for IMANE.
What was your personal philosophy that you brought in when you took over?
My philosophy is that it is vital to give back to our community. Gift of time is always the most precious. I truly believe in the quote by Mahatma Gandhi that the “Best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
What are some of the challenges that you faced and how did you overcome that?
My challenges were of a very personal nature. This has been the toughest year of my life as I lost my beloved dad who was my rock on May 18th this year and I also lost my wonderful mom a month later on June 18. Losing both of them suddenly within 30 days of each other shattered my world completely. Mt trip to India to visit my family under such circumstances was the worst in my life and it still haunts me every day. It was very tough for me to go on and fulfill my professional and community obligations and responsibilities. My parents always taught me that work and commitment come first in life so it took all my strength, a lot of prayers and love and support of my friends and family for me to pull myself together and take care of all my responsibilities this year. I feel that I have truly done the best that I could. I also feel blessed that my IMANE family supported me during my tough times and together we could achieve the goals that we had set out for the organization this year.
You brought in a few partnerships with local organizations with IMANE? How was that experience?
It was best of both worlds. I have been working with many organizations and charities at grass root levels for many years and in leadership roles for the last five years. Women's causes are closest to my heart and I have had great experience working with both ATASK and Saheli. I was the Cochair of very successful first fund raiser for Saheli and this year I was instrumental in bringing my two favorite organizationsundefinedIMANE and Saheliundefinedtogether for Nirbhaya fund raiser.
What are the future plans of IMANE moving forward?
As I said every president brings their own vision. It will depend on the next team. I am sure that the future leaders will bring their own strength to the organization.
What are some of the critical health issues that South Asians face and must pay attention?
Diabetes remains a huge concern. Preventive medicine is also something that we lag behind in.I feel it is so important to get physicals , pap smears for women, mammogram, colonoscopy and age appropriate health screenings done. Prevention is always better than cure.
Finally any message to the younger generation gearing to enter the field of medicine?
My message is slightly different because I also think like a mom. I have a 15 year old daughter. My husband is also a physician but I have to say that medicine so far does not excite my daughter. It may have disappointed some people in our family but I truly believe that it is very important to follow our passions in life, especially in the current times.
When I was growing up in India then women did not have many career choices. I love medicine but while growing up, journalism was also a passion of mine. However, I did not get a chance to pursue that. Interestingly, I was able to make some of my dreams come true later in life as I got opportunities to write too but that is another story. So my message is that medicine is a great field to enter especially with all the advances in the area, but one should choose that as a career only if it excites you because it is challenging and requires tremendous dedication. I have to say that it is a very fulfilling career choice. I also feel that In Indian families we still tend to push our kids towards medicine, engineering and other math and science related fields but we should encourage our children to follow their passions, guide them and also help them to make their dreams a reality.