Following her nomination for the Barts Health meets Vogue inspiring women awards, we sat down with Ms Arti Garg, consultant surgeon at Newham Hospital, to get an insight into her life, her achievements and her future ambitions.
Tell us how you got to the position you are in today
Since I was a child I was mesmerised by watching Indian TV soaps of doctors in white coats saving lives as if they were marvel action heroes. My favourite childhood past time was to dress up in a white coat and pretend to save lives. Little did I know that this would become my lifetime commitment and passion!
Please share some of the achievements you are most proud of
My proudest moment as a surgeon is to have successfully completed two mission trips to Gaza to provide surgical and humanitarian care. This was a soul satisfying and unique experience. During my time there I performed complex keyhole surgeries on patients suffering from cancer and other chronic bowel conditions. This was a challenging experience due to the lack of resources, frequent power shortages and limited accessibility to pretty much everything. Coming back to perform surgery in the UK, the land of the bountiful, has made me more aware of the privileges we take for granted.
I am a firm believer in learning by example. I realised that there was a need to revamp how we were educating our trainees and staff. I set up a robust in-house education and simulation programme. This has allowed us to retain more staff and has given doctors greater opportunities to upskill themselves so that we together can provide better care to our patients.
What motivates you to make a difference to those around you, and a fairer world for all?
My ambition is to help decrease the disparity in global healthcare. In coming together to do this we can bridge the gap for the next generation. To achieve this we need to explore roles of futuristic technologies such as clinical artificial intelligence especially in limited resource settings. There is a particular Sanskrit phrase which I always try to live by: ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, meaning ‘the world is one family’. I strive to treat each patient as though they are a part of my family.
What positive changes would you like to see in the world for both men and women over the next decade?
As a society I believe we have come a long way in terms of gender inequality. Coming from a patriarchal Asian background I was fortunate that my parents raised me as an equal and encouraged me to have an independent voice. The values and kindness they instilled in me motivates me to share this compassion with everyone around me.
I have been blessed to balance my career progression along with being a single parent. However, I know that this is not always the case for everyone and I hope that the progress we are making to support women to be whatever and whoever they want to be, continues long after the next decade.