In conversation with Dr. Sandeep Patwardhan, Pediatric Orthopedic surgeon!

Sandeep Blog

In our pursuit to assist the youth to make the Right Academic/Career Choices, we have interviewed several successful individuals from various professions.

We have Dr. Sandeep Patwardhan, Pediatric Orthopedic surgeon, well known across India and all over the world for his work especially with children.

For Dr. Patwardhan, helping children get better, the constant drive to innovate, learn different things and hard work has contributed to his success.

How did Dr. Patwardhan decide to pursue medicine? What were his motivators and passion? What determined his journey into medicine and what role did destiny/coincidence and mentors play?

Below are snippets of his interview… An insightful guidance for students who are at crossroads trying to select the right career, and also for parents, especially in India…

AND we recommend that you also hear the full recording click on the link below…

Dr. Patwardhan has been passionately working in the field of Pediatric Orthopedics for the past 18 years. Pediatric Orthopedics is quite a young profession and a specialty in itself.   Dr. Patwardhan is one of the first Pediatric Orthopedic surgeons from Pune!

CB5: So what is Orthopedics all about? What does a normal day for a Pediatric orthopedic look like?

Dr. Patwardhan: The word Orthopedics is derived from “Ortho” meaning crooked and “Pedia’ meaning child. So we deal with children less than 16 years of age – Pediatric Orthopedics deal with children’s fractures, paralytic conditions, spastic kids, cerebral palsy becomes a big part of our treatment repertoire, tumors, deformities and growth related issues. So if you have crooked limbs, I can straighten them for you, short limbs, I can make them longer, we can make a limb shorter, birth defect reconstruction like a dislocated hip, an absent thumb, missing bone, so we can reconstruct it and give better functioning, better life.”

‘Pediatric’ Orthopedics is fascinating because in the first 16 years of life you are evolving and changing with time. Once you are an adult, your structure and form are fixed: If it’s broken you fix it if it’s damaged you replace it. That is what it is. It is mechanical.

My interest was more biological, Pediatric Orthopedics offers us the thrill of using our brains in addition to our hands, coming to a diagnosis, making a decision, what dose to give, following them up and watching them evolve is a satisfaction. So kids whom I fixed when they were 2 years old and now they are 22 and completely functioning alright is a different level of satisfaction.

Another interesting point to note is that in India we have a population of 1.25 Billion and almost 400 million are kids. And there are only about 70-80 dedicated pediatric orthopedic surgeons in the country. So all this is 85% of workload and then we have been training the next generation by conferences, seminars.

However Orthopedics is not a glamorous career, it is lowest paid of all orthopedics, it is not high flown but there are volumes. We can do more good for more people, it is just a matter of perspective, in making a career decision.

CB5: Why and how did you select Orthopedics? What made you select Orthopedics?

Dr. Patwardhan: I grew up in a studious environment, my father was a scientist and mother was a teacher. What you wanted to do had nothing to do if you didn’t have the marks. And at that time, it was always hierarchical, the top guys went to medicine, the second top engineering, and so forth. And secondly the era we grew up in there was nothing like Chatur Knowledge Networking, we did not have many informed options available.

I just got the marks, engineering admission happened before medical, I took admission for engineering, I attended college for a month, but then the medical list was out, I got into medicine as it was clearly top in the hierarchy.

I did not have any kind of passion or early inclination for medicine. No informed decision, it just happened, where I am today is a fluke. It naturally occurred to you and you evolved in that direction subconsciously.

I believe birds of a feather flock together, so I guess you migrate towards a specialty that suits your personality.

“Personality plays an important role, I cannot imagine myself as a Gynecologist, there are certain personality traits required even in medical professions and people gravitate towards their personality is what I have observed.”

Personality decides if you will opt for surgical branches or the medical branches. If you want to think and be an intellectual kind, go for Physician side, people who want to be hands on go towards a surgical side.

So I wanted to go for general surgery, but then I got an opportunity to work in the Orthopedics department, and I found a completely new world. This was more result oriented, less morbid, lesser emergencies more physically oriented as compared to general surgery. It suited the personality again. Ortho was an upcoming branch and it was a specialty in itself.

My philosophy of life has been that, if you keep on consistently working in a particular way, generally good things happen, there is no reason for bad things to happen.

What appeals to your talent – you gravitate towards it, youngsters should identify what excites them and what skills they have and accordingly choose a career! If you have the quirk to innovate, modify things, come up with new things, newer ideas and continuously want to keep evolving you will enter a subject which is more biological and skillful, then you will publish more you will write more, teach more!


CB5: What makes a person successful?

Dr. Patwardhan: Is this the constant drive to innovate. I always want to make any surgery affordable, quick and early recovery. So every time one needs to think how can I make it faster, cheaper and more efficient!

You need to challenge the science, what if I do it the other way, then a new technique evolves, then you have enough work on it, then you write a paper and that becomes the new science.

So now I have publications that are changing the way people are looking at things and that is one parameter of success for me and it’s no more monetary.

As you grow older you are not really working for money, your results and the ability to become the game changer for that field in your immediate vicinity is what drives one every day. At the end, if I could teach 5 more students, if I could help 5 more crippled kids become alright that is the success for me.

“Unless you have the willingness or passion for helping others you shouldn’t get into medicine.  Service to humanity is the big chunk.”

You need to deal with all kinds of people, you have to play with some, joke with some, pinch some, scold some, be arrogant with some. And always remember that they have come to you because they have a problem and there is nobody else who can solve it for them. It can give you confidence it can give you arrogance too but then it’s a fine line. So if you think that this translates into this much money then you are in a wrong profession.

This profession is for service, the money will come and it will always be greater than what you need.

CB5: Any notable/significant achievements?

  1. Mukul Madhav Foundation, we are doing free surgery for spastic kids in Satara, Ratnagiri district and we have identified over 700 children with spasticity.
  2. Under Saraswati Foundation we conduct programs, train students and teach how to treat fractures,
  3. Teaching PG students how to examine, treat and make decisions
  4. Travel to places where expertise is not available and provide services.

I guess that is success enough for me.


CB5: To reach here you must have made many Sacrifices. Would you like to share some?

Dr. Patwardhan: Time is the biggest sacrifice! Personal, Family time and time to socialize is lacking.

Health suffers at times.

“If you want to do so many things you need to be physically and mentally fit.”

CB5: Any advice you would like to give all our readers?

Dr. Patwardhan: One should not take life too seriously, we plan too much, take too much advice, analyze too much. Things happen and they happen in the right direction, depending on your personality, your interest, your environment and how you guide yourself through it.

The journey is the fun, not the end point. If you look at medicine and say I want to become MS Ortho and that’s the end of it, you are going to be unhappy. Once a doctor always a doctor, you cannot do anything much with your life later. There are only a handful of people who have changed tracks after Medicine.

Know yourself first, and CB5 would help people to know themselves better and you then need to believe in it.

You should have supreme self-confidence! I always had it. Everyone during my 10th said he is going to fail but I got 99%. I never knew I had it until it was pointed out, so be confident in whatever you do. Insight is the key, you need to realize that you can do it, once you get that nothing can stop you from succeeding.

We thank Dr. Patwardhan for sharing his experiences and wisdom.


click on the link below……

Thank You



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