Arshad Malik became the first person ever to receive the Lars Påhlman medal  

Srinagar: Kashmiri born doctor, Arshad Malik has made it to the top in his field. With his super-speciality in colorectal surgery, he has been featured in the list of topmost surgeons of Europe.

His significant contribution to patient care in this field has earned him a place in ‘A History of the European Society of Coloproctology, which brings together the 75 surgeons in Europe who have left a mark on the speciality which investigates, diagnoses and treats all aspects of colorectal conditions.

Colorectal surgery is a field in medicine dealing with disorders of the rectum, anus, and colon.

In recognition of his achievement, he became the first person ever to receive the Lars Påhlman medal after out-scoring more than 100 candidates who sat the European Board of Surgery Qualification (EBSQ) in Coloproctology.

Born and brought up in the Srinagar city of Kashmir, Arshad, in his 40s, always dreamt of learning modern surgery and being on the top of his super-speciality.

“I did my MBBS at Government Medical College Srinagar and then MS (General Surgery) at SKIMS, Soura. After that, I did keyhole surgical training in Delhi,” he said.

Later, he began walking towards his dream and landed in the UK for further honing his surgical skills.

“When I came to the UK, it was the most difficult period for foreign doctors and there were nearly 500 applicants for each job. Luckily, I did well and got into the system quickly,” Arshad, who is currently a consultant with East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said.

He said like many countries, Indian surgical training is not recognized in the UK and one has to start from scratch here.

“I moved from unit to unit improving my skills which helped me to get into an immensely competitive UK higher surgical training scheme to become a consultant which I did in Cambridge surgical training rotation. I had heard of big institutions like Cambridge but never imagined I would get trained there,” he said.

Arshad credits his success to his architect father, who inspired him to work hard and believe in his abilities.

“During initial years of training, I was also mentored by Professor Ashiq Hussain at SMHS, Hospital. I wanted to be the best in what I do. I had belief in myself. I was not perfect but reflection and self-introspection helped me to improve,” he said.

Dr Arshad hopes to involve himself in developing training programmes and curriculum for trainee surgeons aspiring to become colorectal surgeons in Kashmir.

“There are excellent doctors and surgeons in Kashmir who are very knowledgeable and skillful. They are doing a great job in current circumstances with limited resources that are available. I am hoping to fund and organize a short fellowship for aspiring colorectal trainees to work with us in England and gain valuable experience and then go back and help in improving patient care back home,” he said.

Dr Arshad advised the aspiring colorectal surgeons to work in good institutions with a sound research portfolio.

“Focus on your subject. Publish in good peer reviewed journals. Seek for fellowships in well-known centres all over the world. For example, the Athwas scholarship scheme and American Kashmiri associations who can guide you further,” he said.


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