Ram Venkatesh, M.D., retires after 32 years of service
Ram Venkatesh, M.D., retires after three-plus decades of teaching and healing
A lot has changed since 1988, when Ram Venkatesh, M.D., joined the faculty in the Department of Neurology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. There are new treatments for conditions such as stroke and multiple sclerosis; new diagnostic and imaging capabilities like MRI and PET scans; and new insights into the neurologic effects of HIV/AIDS, Lyme disease and other diseases.
In fact, one of the only things that has remained the same in the ensuing three-plus decades is Venkatesh's reliable presence and unwavering commitment to providing unparalleled care to his patients and an exceptional educational experience to neurology residents at Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kansas.
Now it is Venkatesh who is turning the page and introducing a fresh chapter. After 32 years of service, the associate professor will retire July 31.
"For years, Dr. Venkatesh has been a consistent role model highlighting both clinical excellence and a quietly effective bedside-manner," said Gary Gronseth, M.D., chair of the neurology department at KU Medical Center. "These traits combined with his passion for teaching made him an irreplaceable faculty member. We will miss him."
A healer and a teacher
Venkatesh completed medical school in his native India. Thanks to early mentoring by a professor, K.srinivasan, he navigated to neurology. After an internship in internal medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and a neurology residency at Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York, he came to the VA in Leavenworth, where he became chief of the neurology section in 1986.
Two years later, he joined the KU Medical Center faculty. Under the guidance of Paul Poulose, M.D., then chief of staff at the VA, Venkatesh was instrumental in establishing the neurology residency program's presence at the VA. He has been heavily involved in training neurology and psychiatry residents on rotation there. Along with the chance to make a difference in the lives of his patients, the opportunity to interact with aspiring neurologists and psychiatrists has kept him motivated throughout his career.
"I like to see patients to whom I can be helpful, to make them better, and also the interaction with the residents," he said.
The admiration is mutual. Residents have recognized his with the department's distinguished teaching award, an honor he considers one of the proudest accomplishments of his career.
A new path
As he prepares to step away, Venkatesh admits he will miss everything from engaging with his patients to teaching to interacting with residents, but true to his educator's spirit, he has a few more lessons for those aspiring to follow in his footsteps.
"Things are changing so much now, each area is developing so fast, that a fellowship is almost necessary to do in a certain area they're interested in," Venkatesh said. "Also, pulling together and working as a team, not only with patients, but also with other doctors in the system, is important."
In retirement, Venkatesh is looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren and teaching himself to play the violin.
"I have been fortunate to have had a wonderful relationship with all the neurology faculty and staff. I had a great opportunity to interact with many chairmen, starting with the late Dr. William Koller, interim Chair Dr. Arthur Dick, then Chairman Dr. Richard Barohn and current Chairman Dr. Gary Gronseth. They have all been very supportive. I am grateful for all of those who were part of my academic career."