Consultant dermatologist Dr Dinesh Kumar shares his story of growing up in Bangalore, India, and how he was inspired to become a doctor.
I was born on an early winter morning, motionless. It took a not-so-gentle smack by the attending nurse for me to break my silence!
I was a naughty kid at school, but I was good at my studies and at sports. I won various sporting medals and developed a wonderful group of friends.
As the prospect of university approached, I remember my chemistry teacher speaking about how wonderful it must be for doctors to get to serve people – and receive their patients’ heartfelt gratitude in return. That was the day I decided to become a doctor; I couldn’t help but imagine a day when patients from far and wide would come to seek my treatment.
I gained a place at the prestigious Bangalore Medical College. One of my most cherished memories of my time there is of a medical exhibition I took part in, conducted for the public. As a third-year student, I was leading the ophthalmology stall and I successfully ensured that nearly 5,000 people pledged their eyes for donation!
I took up dermatology for my postgraduate study at my alma mater. My postgrad stint, along with training in dermatology, honed my organisational and administrative skills for the future.
I was awarded the Dowling Club Scholarship, by the Dowling Club – an affiliate of the British Association of Dermatologists. This scholarship enabled me to attend clinics at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital and at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.
I then relocated to Chennai and soon became the general secretary of the Chennai city chapter of the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists (IADVL) and also the general secretary of the Indian Society of Teledermatology; I served both these posts for a period of seven years.
I became the joint secretary of the IADVL in 2018. It was an incredible moment for me, as I won by two-thirds of the votes in the joint secretary category. That year was very eventful because, as part of the people-connect initiative, I was given the responsibility of managing and executing the ‘Skin Safar Rath’ – a programme to raise awareness of skin diseases like psoriasis, vitiligo and leprosy. This proved a humongous success, covering nearly 12,000 km in over 60 days, including 200 stopovers at more than 55 villages, towns and cities across India. Most importantly, I had the opportunity to personally interact and bond closely with many dermatologists across the length and breadth of the country.
After my tenure, I was elected unanimously as the secretary general of the Association of Cutaneous Surgeons (India) and I was nominated for the post of secretary at the International Society of Teledermatology, a post I continue to hold. I am also the first Indian dermatologist to hold the office of the secretary at an international dermatology society.
Though young, I was elected with a huge margin to the post of secretary general on the IADVL executive 2022–24. In August 2022, I was informed by the International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS) that I had been selected to receive the Young Dermatologist Achievement Award.
This award is designed to give recognition to young dermatologists who are trying to make a difference, particularly for people with skin disease who live in resource-poor areas. The award is given once every four years and I am the first Indian recipient.
I’ve had a wonderful life and career so far, and I hope that my story shows that with hard work and dedication, it is possible to achieve your dreams. I could never have imagined that one simple comment from a teacher at school would shape my life forever!
Would you like to share your experience of going into medicine? Get in touch on Twitter via @thisdoctorcan.