Internist/Hospitalist Finds His Outlet

Ed Rabinowitz

Many physicians have interests outside of their jobs as an outlet from the stress; Madhu Anvekar, MD, founder of a successful hospitalist service in California, considers his a mini vacation from work.

Madhu Anvekar, MD, is a Mama Cass Elliot kind of person, in that he enjoys making his own kind of music — in more ways than one.

Anvekar, an internal medicine physician who is on staff as a hospitalist at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, Calif., founded a very successful hospitalist service at Huntington Memorial. He is also an avid musician who has eschewed playing covers in favor of creating and producing new music.

“What draws me to hospital medicine — being able to treat patients who are more clinically urgent — is also very taxing at times for your mind,” Anvekar explains. “The creativity of music is a completely different outlet for me. It’s like a mini vacation every time I’m able to put some time into it.”

And he has well orchestrated the two avocations.

Love for internal medicine

Anvekar began working in hospital medicine, an avenue he considers a branch of internal medicine, straight out of residency. As a student in college he was initially interested in computer science, but felt that would be too much a solitary profession. The life sciences became an attraction, because treating patients appealed to him more.

Part of the attraction to internal and hospital medicine, he says, was the ability to treat an entire patient, top to bottom, and to have a deep understanding of disease processes. There was also the aspect of immediacy, given that hospitalized patients generally have more urgent needs. Anvekar welcomed the opportunity to treat acutely ill patients, to treat them aggressively in the hospital, and to be able to see them leave the hospital in much better condition than when they arrived.

“The steps that we need to take to treat these patients are more clinically urgent, and that just stimulated me more than any other branch of internal medicine,” Anvekar says. “At the same time, it enabled me to treat patients with a variety of different medical problems within internal medicine, as opposed to specializing in one particular area. It was a most stimulating and attractive option.”

It also enabled Anvekar to see where there were unmet needs, so he founded a hospitalist service at Huntington Memorial several years ago that has been extremely successful.

“We assembled a great group of hospitalists,” he says. “During the time that we have been in existence, the hospital has made incredible strides, both in quality and efficiency, and is one of the top-ranked hospitals in the country.”

Passion for music

Anvekar’s love for music began in elementary school when he picked up his first orchestral instrument. His focus soon shifted to classic pop, and rock and roll, and by high school he picked up the electric guitar and was fueled by his idols Jimmy Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Eric Clapton.

“They awoke my passion for music,” he says. “It went from being a hobby and something that was fun to a passion. Since then it has always been there along side my passion for medicine. I had to pick one to be on the back burner, and obviously that was music. But, it has always been smoldering.”

Those embers, however, might be ready to ignite. Over the last few years Anvekar has been working hard with a core group of friends to record an album of original music.

“I don’t really like playing covers, because for me, music is such a creative outlet,” he explains. “It’s a way of creating and producing something new, using that passion that I have for music, rather than repeating someone else’s music. So, that’s why we, especially me, we write our own music.

Part of the recording process that also interests the doctor is the production and engineering side, which he says he’s “gotten pretty good at” over the years by helping his friends with their music.

“[Music] allows me to step out of the box, too, because there are many physicians who have many different outside interests that you may not ever really know about,” Anvekar says. “In general, practicing medicine is a fairly conservative type of career; that part of your lifestyle is pretty regimented and it’s not easy to kind of step out of your box during your workday hours. So, music provides that outlet to sort of be more expressive.”

Leading the charge

Despite his work in the hospital and interest in music, Anvekar still devotes a great deal of time to his three children, each of whom is athletically inclined.

“That’s a big interest and time commitment for the family — especially baseball,” he says.

But at the end of the day, Anvekar returns to his medical focus — in particular, his work as a hospitalist — which he says is most rewarding to him.

“It’s really about providing the patient with the highest quality of care possible,” he says. “And I think that’s been a huge focus in medicine over the last few years. There has been an incredible driving push towards reducing the variability in medicine; to bring the quality of care uniformly high — all over the place, throughout the entire practice of medicine.”

He believes that his and his colleagues’ work as hospitalists has put them at the forefront of that driving push — leading the charge, so to speak.

“And it’s a charge that’s now catching up with where we had been going anyway,” Anvekar says. “That’s really rewarding to me, to see that what we’ve been doing for the last several years has now caught up to the rest of the medical practice. And I like the fact that at the end of the day, in my field in particular, we’re doing the right thing.”