“I never wanted to get into the rat race of working in a big hospital and settling down at one place”, shares Dr. Sejal Tambat, physician at Doctors Without Borders. Hailing from the city of Mumbai in a family where very few girls get an opportunity to pursue their dreams, Sejal went on to pursue MBBS, MD in Physiology from J.J. Hospital and Masters in Family Medicine from CMC Vellore.
After her education, Sejal went on to pursue her aspiration to take the learnings and skills as a doctor to serve communities in difficult-to-reach areas. She shares, “The decision to pursue MBBS was out of peer-pressure. But when I entered the profession, I was amazed to find the many avenues and opportunities for me to practice medicine anywhere in the world.” With this thought in mind, she went to some of the remote, last-mile pockets of the country to live and work with the communities and help bridge the access to healthcare.
In the year 2013, Sejal and her husband, right after their marriage, relocated to Uttarakhand to relentlessly provide responsive healthcare to the flood-affected families of the tragic 2013 Uttarakhand disaster, as a pro-bono support to HelpAge India. The experience, as she recollects, was hard -hitting and motivated her to work in these areas where healthcare services and availability of doctors are much needed but not present. Along with her husband, she then moved to the north-east to work at the PHCs in the remote villages of Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya with Karuna Trust. Her love for trekking and birdwatching complimented her professional aspiration and therefore, she could connect with the community and found joy in working closely with them. Her experience also drew self-realisation of the value of family medicine and primary healthcare in India, especially in inaccessible areas where an individual has to take long detours and journey several miles to reach the nearest health facility.
Sejal sees her husband as a strong support in following her dream. Their shared vision as medical professionals and the love for travel complimented in experiencing a unique opportunity of serving as physician at the National Centre for Polar and Oceanic Research in Antarctica. Sejal shares, “for every girl out there aspiring to be a medical professional, it is important to keep the mind open and be ready to work anywhere. When one has stepped into this profession, one is meant to serve the community. And let that be the guiding light.” She also recognises how women frontline providers in these inaccessible areas have manifold challenges of managing work and home as well as the context where not many opportunities or support systems exist. From her own experience at the Doctors Without Borders, she feels the value of a gender-equal workspace that promotes women to lead as changemakers is extremely essential.
Her own journey so far has motivated her to go beyond work and contribute to the Yumetta Foundation, motivating youths to create positive change in the community. Along with the team, she is creating a community of young medical professionals, promoting peer-learning and the motivation to serve marginalised communities.