2021 Top Doctor: Arcot Premkumar, M.D.

Editorial StaffMay 5, 2021
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Photography by Steve Craft
Photography by Steve Craft

Pulmonary Medicine

Med School/Year Graduated: Bangalore Medical College/1972

Years in Practice: 40

What is it like being a pulmonologist in the era of COVID-19, which ravages the respiratory system?

Yes, it’s very challenging in [this era], with a large shift in paradigm, dealing with complex patients with a fatal disease. The symptoms last long after the infection, damaging the lungs sometimes irreversibly, and a multitude of symptoms persist long after the initial insult.

This is your 18th Top Docs list, and you’re tied for the most mentions in your field. How has the specialty changed since you were a young resident?

The changes have been dramatic, with new tools to help in diagnosing and treating patients. Unfortunately, with the advent of computer-based recording, this also has dealt a blow to personalized care, such as eye-to-eye contact.

How does sleep-disordered breathing affect people in their waking life?

Well, sleep disorder is under-diagnosed [and] affects every aspect of waking life. It’s one of the frequent causes of motor vehicle accidents in highway fatalities involving big rigs [and a main] cause of depression, sudden death, and hypertension and heart disease.

What other ailments do you treat?

Asthma, COPD – which is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – and lung cancer are some of the other primary ailments.

Did you have an “Aha!” moment that made you want to pursue a career in medicine?

My father was a doctor and inspired me. There is always a mentor during training who impresses you to pursue a particular field of medicine.

What was the last book you read?

Last book was Island Girl by Carl Hiaasen. Makes me LOL every time! And, of course, P.G. Wodehouse.

What are you watching on streaming TV these days?

Just watched The Queen’s Gambit. Spectacular series and acting.

“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be…”

If I wasn’t a doctor, I would love to be a librarian! I love all kinds of genres.

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