Gut Reaction: Clinical Fellowship at Sickkids
How did Dr. Mohit Kehar react when he received program director Dr. Simon Ling’s email accepting him to the Pediatric Gastroenterology fellowship at Sickkids? “I didn’t sleep that night! It was a dream come true!” Dr. Kehar is one of approximately 500 new international clinical fellows who embark on advanced training in the Faculty of Medicine’s 72 training programs each year. He is proud to be the first Indian fellow selected for the program.
Dr.Kehar graduated with his MBBS degree in 2005 from Kathmandu University in Nepal and qualified for a Pediatrics residency in Delhi. He developed an interest in gastroenterology and went on to complete a fellowship in Pediatric Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. He was encouraged to apply for a fellowship in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (GHN) at the University of Toronto by his colleague Dr Satyender Katewa. Dr. Katewa is a U of T alum and was a fellow in Pediatric Hemato-oncology at Sickkids. “My mentors, Drs. Anupam, Dhiren, SP Yadav and Nishant, have helped to guide me along this journey. Dr. Katewa encouraged me to apply for this fellowship. He was aware of my interest to continue developing my skills in this area.”
The Pediatric Gastroenterology fellowship program in the GHN division at Sickkids Hospital maintains a strong tradition of training clinicians from all over the world for academic careers encompassing research, education and clinical care. The division is known for training leaders in the field.
In the first year, trainees are put through the paces in GHN inpatient service, transplant, consult, outpatient clinics, intestinal failure, outpatient clinics, and approximately 150-200 procedures. The following two years are mainly spent on research and many enroll in advanced degrees at the University simultaneously.
What has surprised Mohit the most during his training is the team approach of the faculty and staff. “The top experts in all fields of pediatric medicine are here, but if you have a question or concern, they are always willing to discuss with you – to share their knowledge, to assist. The goal is always better care for our patients”. He also highlights the mentorship qualities of the experts. “I am fortunate to train under physicians like Dr Vicky Ng and Dr Yaron Avitzur who have amazing mentorship qualities.”
Mohit’s advice to international fellows interested in pursuing a clinical fellowship? Work hard, do research in your field at home, and publish. Connect with a previous clinical fellow, someone who has walked the path before you. He warns that there will be hardships and sacrifices along the way, particularly for those with families. Partners must often make the adjustments to Canadian life and relationships without the structure and support of the work environment. “My wife, Dr Shaifali, has always been supportive and motivating”.
Dr. Kehar’s plans post-fellowship? He will return to India and hopes to implement a program reflecting the skills and knowledge he has learned during his studies. He feels there is a need for advanced training in this field in India and he will be able to meet the challenge.