Next-generation Leaders Gain Support from Indian-American Doctors

By siliconindia   |   Wednesday, 13 July 2022, 17:18 IST
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Next-generation Leaders Gain Support from Indian-American Doctors

Dr Ravi Kolli, a psychiatrist with specializations in addiction, geriatrics, and forensic psychiatry, serving as the psychiatric medical director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services, took over as the president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin

Dr Ravi Kolli, the Psychiatric Medical Director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services and a psychiatrist with specialities in addiction, geriatrics, and forensic psychiatry, was elected president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) last month. The AAPI is an organization that represents over 120,000 physicians of Indian origin, with 120 local chapters and chapters of alumni and speciality associations across America.  While the AAPI vision of representing physicians of Indian origin in the United States remains unchanged, Covid has had an impact on lives and provided us with the opportunity to reinvent ourselves. As humans emerge from the darkness, the bright side is that they are more technologically savvy, allowing them to communicate not only locally but also globally.

Dr Kolli, who graduated from Rangaraya Medical College and NTR University of Health Sciences Medical School in Andhra Pradesh and immigrated to the United States in 1983, believes that mental health issues have become more important in the context of the pandemic, even for Indian-origin healthcare professionals. As a psychiatrist, the themes of healing the healer and raising general public awareness about mental health issues are both important to him. The main barrier he wants to overcome is that healing begins within, the physician's community. To address the challenges of physician burnout and suicide, they actively promote physician wellness and self-care. Liaisons with mental health professionals in India and around the world are also formed to promote wellness and recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders.

Dr Kolli will also work to increase AAPI's focus on connecting with the next generation of Indian-origin physicians. He is a proponent of legislation to address the green card backlog faced by Indian physicians. A large number of physicians of Indian origin in the United States are on H-1B work visas and face significant delays in obtaining permanent residence status. These doctors are highly qualified and well-trained, and many of them work in America's underserved rural areas. While this generation of Indian American physicians faced many challenges, they did not have to face immigration barriers such as having to wait 15-20 years for their green cards. Over the last 4-5 years, the issue has been brought to the attention of the AAPI leadership, and there are efforts underway to support young physicians through advocacy for immigration reforms and political action. While the legislation is complicated, they are aware of the disruption that Indian doctors and their families are experiencing. Many of the senior members are well-connected and have reached out to senators and influential people to make an impact and find long-term solutions. He believes that the organization's leadership, which had previously fought hard to end discrimination against international medical graduates and achieve parity in having the same United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) for all medical graduates, was now carrying on the tradition of supporting young Indian doctors in the US.

Another area of focus for AAPI is connecting with yoga practitioners in the United States who are conducting their scientific evidence-based research on yoga as a time-tested ancient holistic healing practice that works on multiple levels, including mental, physical, and spiritual. It helps to build social connections, avoid loneliness, and connect with nature and traditions, and there are many mental health benefits as well.