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In high school, Kavita Persaud won state competitions in debate.
She was average in science but strong in English-a natural
inclination that her father, a family practitioner, told her would
be one of her greatest strengths as a physician. Working in his
office as a teenager, Dr. Persaud saw how her father helped his
patients and how much they appreciated him for it, and she wanted
to do the same. Years later, she fulfills that goal every day at
her own practice, as an internist specializing in geriatrics. She
enjoys being there for her patients. "When the exam door closes, it
becomes a place where people can talk," she says, "and I am there
Internal medicine and geriatrics stood out to Dr. Persaud from the
start. "I knew I wanted to take care of the whole patient so I
decided to become an internist and I pursued geriatrics because I
wanted to become a better doctor," she says, "I think of geriatric
medicine as super medicine."
She knew her decision was the right one while completing her
fellowship in geriatrics at State University of New York at
Buffalo, and later working as a medical director at a Lutheran
hospital and a senior health service in Indiana. She loved the team
approach of both geriatrics and internal medicine, and thrived in
an atmosphere in which she could work closely with others.
She also cherished the special bond she shared with patients and
their families. "There's so much connection with the families, it's
so rewarding," she says. Today, nine out of ten cards covering Dr.
Persaud's office walls aren't from patients, but rather from
relatives of former patients who have passed away. "It means a
lot," she says.
Dr. Persaud cites home visits with her terminally ill patients
as a special part of her work. She talks of one patient in
particular. "Grace's name suited her so perfectly because she was a
woman of true grace," recalls Dr. Persaud. "She was dying but able
to be at her daughter's home with caregivers during that time. I
was truly impressed with her courage and her certainty with all her
decisions. I learned so much from her-we need to keep learning from
patients." Prior to entering the terminal phase of her illness,
Grace spent a year maintaining a tight regimen to manage her
serious cardiac condition. She got blood tests every Monday and
visited with Dr. Persaud every three weeks. The efforts allowed
Grace to live a better quality of life, says Dr. Persaud. "We were
able to keep her out of the hospital and she had a good last
In 2001 Dr. Persaud and her husband, an anesthesiologist, relocated
to North Carolina. She worked for a group practice for several
years and then in 2002 life changed when their daughter was born.
As her daughter grew, priorities shifted. She decided to open her
own practice to give herself more flexibility with her daughter and
the ability to control her own business.
And while many wouldn't consider owning and running a private
practice a "low stress approach," Dr. Persaud holds a different
view. Ever since her years as an undergrad at Queens University at
Belfast, Ireland, she has embraced a European way of life, one she
describes as more balanced with an emphasis on leisure. Working as
an internist lets her have it all. "After my daughter was born, I
wanted more flexibility and less stress," she explains. "I can
change my days when I need to, and I love the model of my
It also allows her the opportunity to pursue other interests. In
addition to her work treating patients at her private practice and
at a local nursing home, Dr. Persaud serves on a board of directors
for a community literacy program, participates in quality
improvement projects with ACP, coaches a high school debate team,
and discusses health topics every Monday on a local radio show.
"It's all about getting involved, diving in head first," she says.
For the radio show, "Talk of the Town," Dr. Persaud often chooses
subjects that are timely or seasonal. On a recent show, Dr. Persaud
discussed a topic close to her heart-how to choose a nursing home
for a loved one. "People need to be able to look past the
chandeliers and mahogany furniture," she says, "It's not easy to
assess quality of care."
Just as her father had done with her when she was young, Dr.
Persaud will sometimes bring her daughter into the office. As a
seven-year-old, her responsibilities are limited, but every once in
a while Dr. Persaud will let her stamp envelopes. It's a simple job
but one full of meaning; a family tradition of sorts.
Check out previous
articles as physicians share what motivated them to become
physicians as well as why they chose their particular type of
June 2010 Issue of IMpact
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