Physician Feature: Indira Thirkannad, MD Parallel Lives

One child’s dream

A wide-eyed, seven-year-old girl named Indira watched with fascination as her family doctor healed patients. She was amazed. Seeing that impact at such a young age inspired her to change lives in her future. Indira developed one ambition: to become a doctor.

Now, Dr. Indira Thirkannad is a self-employed pediatric surgeon, choosing many of her locum tenens assignments with the help of Medicus Healthcare Solutions.

Although she always wanted to become a doctor, Dr. Thirkannad took a little bit longer to discover her true calling. In describing her love for surgery, she says, “I appreciate the definitive, evidence-based reality of surgery and how each technique directly influences patient outcomes. I enjoyed most surgical specialties in medical school. However, in my final year, I worked in pediatric surgery and decided that was the field for me. Now, I love working with children—they are, after all, our future.”

Parallel lives

The flexibility of locum tenens has allowed her to spend time with her daughter, Sneha, and her husband, Sunil, while simultaneously pursuing her passion for pediatric surgery. “As a locum physician, I live parallel lives—a professional life away from home, and when I’m not working, I’m home and my time is my own. When I began practicing as a locum physician, the freedom to make my own schedule was very alluring. Sneha was a young middle schooler, so locum tenens allowed me to work around her tests, piano, and dance recitals. My husband is a hand surgeon, so his practice coordinated his calls around mine. One of us was always available for Sneha, which was so important to the fabric of our family.”

Today, Sneha is a sophomore at the University of California Los Angeles, and in November, Dr. Thirkannad and her husband will celebrate 25 years of marriage. Thankfully, she has been present for many of her family’s milestones, and she did not have to sacrifice that time in favor of her career.

More than a staffing company

After working with Medicus Healthcare Solutions for the past seven years, Dr. Thirkannad says, “I have an excellent rapport with Medicus. Their interdepartmental coordination is amazing. Credentialing, licensing, travel, and accounting all work together to make the process seamless. I love working with the surgery coordinators, specifically, Olivia Pizzano. She has been instrumental in placing me in a long-term locum contract. She’s smart, dedicated, and genuinely cares about her physicians. She proved that when she made the effort to meet the team on one of my assignments. Olivia is much more than a coordinator; I truly consider her my friend.”

Although the process to obtain each assignment is the same, each hospital is a little different. Academic and university-based practices have established protocols, so it’s easy to step in and join surgical residents and advanced mid-level providers. However, Dr. Thirkannad has also completed assignments at non-academic institutions, where she adapts to solo practice without these luxuries. About the lessons learned from the variety of placements, she says, “I have had some of the most difficult cases on my locum assignments, and this has encouraged me to learn a lot of different skills. I can work with four different EMR systems! The challenge of working in diverse places and adapting to new environments is rewarding. I’m very fortunate to have an impact on the lives of so many children across so many states.”

Empowering future generations

With many unique assignments, Dr. Thirkannad carries a lot of memories with her. When asked about her favorite placement, she laughs. “I must confess—each assignment has been a favorite! I completely immerse myself in the work, so it doesn’t take long before I feel like I belong to that place. Soon enough, it becomes a favorite.”

After enjoying the new experiences and flexibility of locum life, Dr. Thirkannad recommends that emerging medical professionals explore the opportunity to practice as a locum physician.  “Locum assignments come with a lot of responsibility, but you will go far with honesty, sincerity, love, and passion for your work,” she says. “I’ll tell you a secret: to quote Samuel Goldwyn, the harder you work, the luckier you get. Of course, it helps to be backed by a strong family and an understanding spouse. I am doubly blessed with both.”

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