Prasanth Lingam, M.D., FACC
Director of Cardiology and Cardiac Catheterization
Fort Hamilton Hospital
Q: What made you decide to pursue a career in medicine and why did you choose this specialty?
My parents were both physicians, so early on I had great exposure to the medical field. All my cousins and my brother are physicians. I actually wanted to go the other way. I thought medicine was the last thing I wanted to do, but the more I went through school and had exposure to the medical field, it was something I couldn’t get away from. I figured, if I’m trying so hard to get away from it and it’s still drawing me back, I should probably not fight it. It became a wonderful and amazing decision. I was drawn to cardiology because I enjoy technology and the great things that modern medicine has been able to provide. Some of the techniques in cardiology change almost month by month. Potentially, the patient that we couldn’t help three months earlier, we are now able to call back and say, “There’s something new that we can try and improve your symptoms and make you feel better.” There’s an amazing amount of gratification when, in almost an instant, you can see somebody go from being at their sickest, at their worst, to walking out of your office saying, “I feel so much better.” It’s just a wonderful feeling.
Q: What are the most vital elements to becoming a great physician?
A lot of doctors know what to do at any given time from a medical standpoint, but the biggest thing most patients relate to — and the most important thing — is just being there, not necessarily as their doctor but as their friend. [Patients need] someone who can explain [things] on a layman’s level and can relate to what they are feeling at that particular time. As a physician, you sometimes see the same kind of medical condition hundreds or thousands of times a year, but it’s that one person’s unique story and unique medical condition to them because they have never seen it before. If you can relate to that, it puts patients more at ease. It makes them more comfortable and more likely to follow the game plan that you have come up with together.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?
I was one of those Type A personalities. I remember thinking back in sixth grade, “If I can get past this math test, my whole life will be set.” Then one day my brother told me, “Stop stressing out so much because life is just one stressful moment after another. You can’t live your whole life being stressed the whole time."
In times like this, even non-medically, there are so many people with so much stress in their life, whether it’s due to the economy, finances, health problems, family situations, so I tell people to at least decompress from the rest of the world for 10 or 15 minutes a day to get away and focus on themselves. Whatever they want to do for fun — sitting outside and meditating, taking a walk, taking a warm bath — anything to shut out the world’s problems for just a few minutes to get that peace of mind.