Hello SOTGC community,
It’s a great pleasure to introduce you to Dr. Jyoti Arya, plastic surgeon at Scripps Green in San Diego, CA. I met Jyoti when I took over a product that she had been using, and I wanted to meet her, learn about her practice, and discover what she liked or wanted improved with the product.
When I approached her for an interview, she replied with something along the lines of: “I would love to do it, but not sure you want the story. I didn’t exactly have a normal route and I’m also currently pursuing other ventures outside surgery.” As soon as I heard this, I knew I needed to get this interview. One of the things I would like SOTGC to be about is showing ladies, through inspiring examples, that you don’t have to remain in the same vocation you started in…and Jyoti’s awesome story provided this.
What got you into medicine?
My Mother wanted to be a doctor and ended up marrying at a young age and when she had children, ended up dropping out of college. With her generation, once you became a mother, you didn’t go back to work. She always encouraged me to go into medicine, and I loved biology in high school and really enjoyed the genetics courses in college. I graduated as a general surgeon and six years after I went into practice I realized I wasn’t able to do the types of cases I wanted due to the resources I was given at my hospital. So I went back and did a two-year plastics residency to become a plastic surgeon.
What was it about genetics specifically that interested you?
On a personal note, my neighbor was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when we were kids, so learning about his disease and how it’s caused was really intriguing for me once I got into college. I loved that little tiny changes could have huge implications, so I got a degree in Molecular Biology from UCSD. During my senior year I volunteered at the UCSD pediatric board and saw a lot of leukemia, which only furthered my interest.
Have you had a mentor along the way and if so, what lessons did they teach you?
I did and he was the one that got me into surgery. In medical school I was on his surgery service and at that point I thought I was going to be a pediatrician. My mentor noticed that during our presentations I organized and presented information in more of a surgical style. When he took an interest in my studies and asked what I wanted to do, he convinced me that I would be enjoy surgery more than internal medicine.
What motivates you?
The pursuit of knowledge.
How do you maintain work life balance and what are two practical tips you can give people who are working on achieving this?
I don’t, well, I’m trying to get better. It’s a struggle, I even moved to Del Mar recently so that it would be easier to get to and take walks on the beach. Instead, it’s just easier for me to get to work. There is one thing I have gotten better at, and that’s realizing when I am tired and allowing myself to “hide” from other people so I can recharge and rest. Over the last few years I’ve realized that there is NO prize for being tired because you are working yourself to death. Money isn’t a driver for me, so if you’re driven by passion for what you do and desire for knowledge, you’ll take those breaks that your body tells you to.
Do you think self awareness (some call it “authenticity”) plays a role in personal and professional development? If yes, how has it helped you on both levels?
Absolutely. If you don’t recognize what you’re good at and what your limitations are, then you won’t have the ability to recognize what you’re bad at. You have to be honest with what you can and cannot accomplish otherwise you’re going to struggle with everything you do. Once I realized and accepted my limitations, I found a way I could work around them.
You’ve done general surgery. You’ve done plastics. Now are you’re building a commercial and residential real estate company. What advice would you give a woman who has spent years training and craves something new to expand her horizons yet feels she needs to stay just in medicine (or law, engineering, etc) since that’s what she has spent so much time training for?
Just go do it! My warning is that you’re going to have to build it on top of what you’re currently doing and so it will take long hours and lot of time. Nothing is generated out of nowhere but what makes it worth it is that I enjoy doing both jobs. I love surgery and I love the real estate business. So my advice to other women would be: “pick what you’re interested in, and it will be worth it. Anything good requires a lot of time and effort.”
What is your mantra?
“It has to be nice.” Whatever you do, no matter how big or small the task, job, etc seems, do it well. Do it to your best ability and don’t settle for less for either your own work, or the work of others.