It’s 2006. We are all 14 years younger and definitely better looking than today. I had just uprooted my 3 young daughters (ages 14, 12, and 6) from their established lives in Orange County, CA and moved them to Charlottesville, VA on a whim to “improve” our lives. At least, my children made it seem like a whim. One of my daughters wouldn’t let me forget that I had taken her away from her childhood friends and came downstairs with a pout every morning. My heart was heavy but determined. I was not one to make such important decisions without planning and precision, but the outcome of this change, whether positive or negative, was yet to materialize.
I started my private practice in Vitreoretinal Surgery and joined the Albemarle County Medical Society (ACMS) and the Medical Society of Virginia (MSV) shortly after I had moved. What was the impetus to join these groups in the midst of all of the upheaval that was already present in my life?
The answer lies in the most commercially successful Disney Channel Original Movie ever produced: High School Musical. It also happened to be a movie that was constantly on my television with my three girls singing along in the background. With a time-tested formula of a great cast and young love, success was assured. In the film, initial dramatic tension created by self-serving behavior and competitiveness over auditions for the school musical eventually melts into a spirit of mutual cooperation and trust. As the credits start to roll, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens launch into their hit song, “We’re All In This Together1” to thunderous applause from the audience.
I thought, if we could channel the teamwork and collaboration demonstrated from this teen movie in our professional organizations, we could really make a difference. Yes, I realize I was comparing a group of high school students to highly-trained scientists, educators, and healers. However, the idea energized me to live up to my potential as a role model and professional in my field. If all physicians, PAs, and other health care professionals believed that we are truly in this together, imagine how much we could accomplish! We owe it to our colleagues and patients to be involved and active in the process of organized medicine. Our success, fulfillment, and the future of medicine certainly depends on it.
A few months of transition into living in Virginia led to increasing smiles, fun, and togetherness of my family. My daughters had adjusted, and they were proud of me for taking such a big step for our lives. Throughout this time, the message of High School Musical stuck with me and reminds me why I joined MSV in 2006.
I am honored to be your President-Elect and excited to take us into the future. It is time for all of us to toss our high school drama aside and fall in line with the hit parade. Participate and try out. Show up. Say yes to change. Who knows? Your children might be proud of you too.
Mohit Nanda, MD
Medical Society of Virginia
1High School Musical Cast. We're All in This Together, Matthew Gerrard and Robbie Nevil.