Mukund Joshi takes pride in lifelong commitment to teaching

July 14, 2003

Prof. Mukund Joshi celebrated his 60th birthday earlier this year, but his patients did not join in celebrating: Indian law requires that anyone reaching the age of 60 must retire. After 30 years as a radiologist, Joshi is reluctantly giving up his

Prof. Mukund Joshi celebrated his 60th birthday earlier this year, but his patients did not join in celebrating: Indian law requires that anyone reaching the age of 60 must retire. After 30 years as a radiologist, Joshi is reluctantly giving up his clinical responsibilities in hospitals across Mumbai.

He is not abandoning his commitment to radiology, however. Joshi retains the position of emeritus professor at the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General (LTMG) Hospital in Mumbai, (formerly Bombay) where he will continue lecturing. He also intends to maintain a wider role as a radiology educator.

"I consider myself first and foremost to be a teacher," he said. I will be teaching until the day I die."

Joshi has become a familiar figure in continuing radiological education, sharing his expertise in ultrasound with doctors and healthcare workers around the world. He is the only Indian radiologist to have participated in the former Nycomed Amersham Intercontinental Continuing Education in Radiology (NICER) program, the STAR courses (originally Schering Training in Advances in Radiology, before Schering was joined by Siemens), and the Asian-Oceanian Seminars in Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology sponsored by Bracco.

Overseas travel has not diminished his pride in his home country. As chair of the scientific committee for the 1998 International Congress of Radiology, held in New Delhi, Joshi made every effort to ensure that delegates visiting India would not be disappointed. He recalls with pride the many compliments he received regarding the quality of that year's ICR conference program. The prime minister at the time presented Joshi with a lifetime achievement award for services to radiology in India during the meeting. He is especially pleased to have received this recognition for work on home soil.

"It was very rewarding to feel that during my career I had done something that was really worthwhile," he said.

The path to success has not always been easy. Following his father's death when Joshi was 12, his family struggled financially, living a hand-to-mouth existence at times. Now, however, Joshi sits among India's elite doctors as a fellow of the National Academy of Medical Sciences. He is one of only two radiologists invited to join an Indian government commission that is organizing a five-year national strategy for medicine. He is a life member of the Indian Radiological and Imaging Association, of which he was president in 1995, and has served as editor of the Indian Journal of Radiology and Imaging.

His long career began at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, one of the oldest and most respected teaching hospitals in India. Joshi initially planned to follow in his father's footsteps and become a surgeon. But a good friend and mentor, who had watched the young medical student play competitive cricket, suggested otherwise.

"He knew me better than anyone, and he could see that I got uptight when things weren't going well," Joshi said. "He told me that I should not go into surgery. But I wasn't interested in pathology or anesthesiology, and there was not really any interventional radiology in India at that time."

Surgery's loss thus became radiology's gain. Joshi joined the Tata Memorial Hospital, a national center specializing in cancer prevention, treatment, and research. By the early 1970s, he was not only practicing diagnostic radiology at the hospital but had started up his own private radiology practice.

"But after six or seven years I became fed up with general x-ray radiology. It was not very challenging, so I gave up my practice," he said.

Joshi traveled first to Denmark, spending a year working with ultrasound pioneer Dr. Hans Henrik Holm at the Herlev Hospital in Copenhagen. The modality was still in its infancy, but Joshi recognized its potential. Holm's patient supervision enabled him to master the new technique.

"For the first few months, when I looked at the screen, I was just looking at craters on the moon," he said.

Joshi then moved to the U.K., where he spent 12 months practicing ultrasound under the guidance of Dr. David Cosgrove at the Royal Marsden Hospital, a large cancer center located at dual sites in Sutton and London. A two-month visit to a medical center in Sydney, Australia, that specialized in breast ultrasound completed his trip. He returned to India and took a post at the LTMG Hospital, eager to use his newfound skills.

"The hospital director knew I was likely to return to Mumbai, so he made sure the hospital had an ultrasound machine. It was the first hospital in Mumbai to get ultrasound," he said.

Joshi has worked tirelessly to promote the benefits of ultrasound as a cost-effective diagnostic tool, particularly in gastrointestinal applications. These efforts have included training the next generation of radiologists and passing on his conscientious work ethic and caring attitude.

"I tell my students that there is no shortcut to success apart from hard work, and that they should treat their patients like they would their own family members," he said.

His unerring commitment to education has won him great respect and admiration within the international radiological community and many long-lasting friendships.

"God has been kind to me in giving me some very good friends," he said.

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