Dr Nazira Chatur, a Vancouver gastroenterologist credits her mentors for inspiring her to pursue her chosen specialty. In fact, when asked about her mentors, she recalls how much she loved being on-call with her mentor, Dr Donald Carr. Dr Chatur describes “I could see him work with a bleeding patient – it would literally be like going from a movie scene in Kill Bill to a scene in Love Story. He was just so great with his patients – he was definitely an inspiration to me.”
Born in Kenya and growing up in Tanzania, Dr Chatur and her sister both pursued degrees in IT because this education was portable to any country.
Dr Chatur later emigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto. Eventually, she married and moved to Vancouver. It was while visiting her home and in particular an old school friend who was then dying from HIV, that she was inspired by her husband’s words. When she expressed that she was always interested in medicine, her husband’s response was, ‘you should never go to your grave saying “what if” so why don’t you embark on that.’ She began pre-med in 1992 while still working in IT and graduated from medical school in 1999.
Dr Chatur chose her specialty because she was attracted to the variety of work. She says, “you’re always on the go – someone comes in with a bleed and you manage to stop it – there’s instant gratification or you find a tumour. Those things can really make a difference to a patient’s life. It gives me such satisfaction.”
Dr Chatur is a general gastroenterologist, but also luminal gastroenterologist, so she works with the inner open space or cavity of a tubular organ, such as the intestine. She has partnered with oncologists at the BC Cancer, initially starting off with GI care for survivors of childhood malignancies who tend to have an increased risk of certain GI cancers. More recently, she is seeing patients who have adverse GI effects from immunotherapy. Dr Chatur states, “Immunotherapy is the new kid on the block for cancer therapy, which is very effective. However, there can be serious side-effects. For example, patients can develop colitis - that’s when I look after them.”
Having the benefit of good mentors also inspired Dr Chatur to work for over 10 years as the UBC program director of adult GI training – training Fellows. “I was able to give back a bit of what I received when I was being trained,” says Dr Chatur.
Dr Chatur’s IT background has been a tremendous help when implementing the Enhanced Access Initiative for the gastroenterologist group at the Vancouver General Hospital (VGH). Enhanced Access is a Specialist Services Committee (SSC) initiative that helps interested groups of specialists implement pooled referrals with central intake and triaging referrals to ensure patients have access to the first available and appropriate specialist.
The initiative utilizes data to monitor and manage specialist waitlists. Dr Chatur notes, “although the initial reporting package was amazing, it offered mostly generic reporting. We wanted more precision and targeted data mining – so we hired a data analyst. In order to mine this data and create a report we had to learn data mapping – and we had to repurpose some fields within the package. It was challenging and the most satisfying part of the initiative. We now have a very powerful system that we can tailor to our needs.”
Dr Chatur has been asked by other groups about this work and in particular how the data analyst supported them, so she has put together a PowerPoint presentation and makes it available to anyone who is interested.
When asked about what satisfies her the most, Dr Chatur responds, “My patients are my life-line. They are so amazing. My patients are so grateful when they recover from serious effects of their illness and can carry on with their lives. It is very satisfying and they honestly keep me going.”
In her sparse spare time, Dr Chatur loves to swim, which she used to do competitively as a child. Also, she and her husband love to travel. Of course, her inspiration always remains her husband. Dr Chatur’s last words say it all, “He’s the most amazing human being you could ever meet. He’s a big teddy bear everyone wants to hug. I’m grateful for my husband, my parents, my sisters and my entire family because they have supported me through everything.”
If you want to know more about the Enhanced Access Initiative, contact: Garth Vatkin, Portfolio Liaison: firstname.lastname@example.org