Dr. Manisha Juthani is an Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program Director since 2012, and Associate Program Director for Career Development in the Internal Medicine Residency Program since 2017 at Yale School of Medicine.
Here is what Dr. Juthani had to say when we asked her about the medical mindset:
You are a Physician, Researcher, Professor, Writer, and Medical Correspondent. What is the one skill that has allowed you to succeed in these different roles?
Communication. You become a good communicator by being a good listener and by asking the right questions. The best way to have a conversation with someone is to actively listen to them, be nonjudgmental, and articulate your message in a way that relates to their interests.
What are three ways to prepare for a career in medicine?
One of the things I recommend is to volunteer at a hospital. If you’re a high school student and want to get started that is a good way to do it. Another way is to train to be an emergency medical technician (EMT). It’s pretty easy to find a course. With this, you’re also able to get in the ambulance. Getting out there and responding to emergencies is great experience. It’s a thrill, so you learn if you like this and see if this is something you’re interested in. Finally, I would say get access to various exposure points. If you know a doctor, see if you can shadow them in an office. This will give you direct patient contact. If you’re a college student, email a professor and ask to do some research with them. When you reach out, make sure your email is thoughtful and personal—show that you have done your research.
What is the greatest challenge you have faced and greatest success you have achieved throughout your career?
As a challenge, I would say internship year. That very first year was tough. I graduated medical school in 1998 and worked six days with no day off. I was sleep deprived and worked with patients who took their suffering out on me. While this experience was tough, I developed resilience and learned that things get better. This year might have been my greatest year for professional success. Yale really had to respond to the pandemic. I helped set up 10 infectious disease services and came up with the administrative structure, and advised how to care for covid patients on Zoom calls with 120 people every day. My entire career really prepared me for this point. However, when I think of success in my life, I think of coming from a loving family, having a great husband, and two amazing kids. At the end of the day work is always secondary to me.
What advice do you have for navigating our “new world?”
Maintain hygiene. When it gets cold, have your mask handy. The end of September and when there is an uptick, I will wear a mask. When I’m around people who are vaccinated, I am comfortable without wearing a mask when we are outdoors. In a grocery store, I am wearing a mask. I don’t want to get covid if I don’t have to. I am starting to live and do more. It’s not hard to be safe.
Whether you are treating patients, teaching students, or serving as a Medical Correspondent, you are trying to convince others to believe in you, your knowledge, and insights. How do you build trust with individuals?
The number one thing is to not be judgmental. If someone says something you disagree with, put your judgement aside. Say, “Tell me why you feel this way.” Be open and try to understand where they are coming from. Show in your face that you are actively listening. Trust is earned when people feel you aren’t judging them for who they are. Patients make bad decisions in my line of work and I can’t project my emotions.
What advances do you expect to see in the medical field in the next 10 years?
Well, there are ways it might change and ways I hope it will. Health is a right and not a privilege. There are many people who struggle with lack of access to care. Providers are stretched thin with seeing patients and meeting patient quotas. I hope we move to a model where we pay physicians to keep people well. You get paid the same amount if you see five or 15 patients. I hope it’s not all about the bottom line.
Dr. Juthani is an Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program Director since 2012, and Associate Program Director for Career Development in the Internal Medicine Residency Program since 2017 at Yale School of Medicine. She is also the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health in Connecticut. Dr. Juthani attended Edgemont High School in Scarsdale, NY, received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in 1994 and medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in 1998. She completed Internal Medicine residency training at New-York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell where she served as an Assistant Chief Resident and was a Chief Medical Resident at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center from 2001-2002.
Dr. Juthani came to Yale School of Medicine as a post-doctoral fellow in Infectious Diseases in 2002. For the past 18 years, her research has focused on the diagnosis, management, and prevention of infections in older adults, specifically urinary tract infection (UTI) and pneumonia in nursing home residents. She has over 50 peer-reviewed publications in this field. She was the Principal Investigator of an R01-funded research project that resulted in the 2016 JAMA publication entitled, “Effect of Cranberry Capsules on Bacteriuria Plus Pyuria Among Older Women in Nursing Homes: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” This publication received widespread attention in the lay press, including The New York Times and CNN to name a few, and achieved an Almetric Attention Score that placed it in the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric in 2016. In December 2016, The New Yorker identified this research as one of the most notable medical findings of 2016, and Dr. Juthani was interviewed and featured in a GeriPal podcast. Additionally, in her parallel work with pneumonia prevention, she was the first author on the 2015 Clinical Infectious Diseases publication entitled, “A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial of a Multicomponent Intervention Protocol for Pneumonia Prevention Among Nursing Home Elders.” Her investigative expertise has made her a sought-after editorialist in high impact journals such as JAMA, JAMA Internal Medicine, and the British Medical Journal. In addition to her academic responsibilities, Dr. Juthani enjoys writing about and discussing medical topics in the lay press. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been featured on CNN, WTNH News 8, ABC’s 20/20, CT Public Radio/NPR, BBC’s News Hour, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post to name a few. Her current research interests are focused on merging best practices with ID and palliative medicine, specifically providing optimal infectious diseases consultation to nursing home residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.