In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

November 15, 2022

Sharanya Nakka on Mayo Clinic innovations that inspire her, people who make her feel supported

By In the Loop
Sharanya Nakka

Sharanya Nakka, a surgical assistant in Cardiovascular Diseases, was impressed by Mayo innovations that changed the course of medicine everywhere and wanted to be a part of it. She shares her experience of coming to work for Mayo, the people who have supported her, and what it means for her to be here.

"Voices of Mayo" highlights Mayo staff and their stories, exploring their diverse backgrounds, the challenges they face, the opportunities they have been given, and their experiences at Mayo Clinic.

Sharanya Nakka was in India, studying to be a physician assistant, when she first learned of Mayo Clinic and its innovations in cardiac care. Nakka, now a surgical assistant in Cardiovascular Diseases, was so impressed by Mayo's forward thinking that changed the course of medicine that she wanted to find a place at Mayo for herself.

Nakka shares her experience of coming to Mayo Clinic and the people here who've made a difference in her path.

My journey to land at Mayo Clinic is like a dream come true — and much more than that. I was enrolled in an engineering program at 17. But I changed my mind, followed my heart and made a bold decision to take up physician assistant studies, which is still not that popular in India. Most of my peers chose engineering, which was and still is popular and successful. I was about to do something that would either be profoundly transforming or an utter flop.

My parents believed in me, and that made all the difference. I enrolled in Birla Institute of Technology and Science to do a four-year Physician Assistant Program at the Madras Medical Mission, a top-notch heart institute in Chennai. Gladly, it proved to be an amazing decision as my seniors, peers, professors, dean and surgeons turned out to be amazing teachers. I owe them prodigious gratitude.

During my second year of my college, the surgeons and professors there always spoke about Mayo Clinic's innovations that have paved the way to help mankind. Being at an ardent cardiac institute, we always contemplated the Mayo-Gibbon Heart-Lung Machine which was invented at Mayo Clinic in 1949. These machines are used to temporarily replace the function of the heart and lungs, supporting the circulation of blood through the body. Today, it is used worldwide and taken for granted. With these advanced perfusion machines, we are making miracles to correct almost every heart ailment with ease. Fast forward to today, we follow Dr. Joseph Dearani's cone repair method to correct Ebstein anomaly.

This made me want to come to Mayo Clinic. I feel so blessed and proud to say I originally traveled 8,300 miles to be a part of this phenomenal institution to work with brilliant brains, meet amazing people, and to expect nothing less than excellence in whatever we do. It is astounding in every aspect.

I moved to Rochester to work as a surgical assistant at Mayo Clinic. It was not easy to be away from my family. But I am glad that Mayo made me feel like I belonged. It's like working with extended family here. "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life." To me, working at Mayo perfectly justifies this quote. No two days are the same at work, and I love it.

The one thing I always admire about working here — among many other reasons — is that it's so diverse. We find many people from geographical regions such as Iceland, Chile, Ukraine, Argentina, Poland, Sudan, Korea, India and the United Kingdom, to name just a few. It's like a whole world in one place, but we get a feeling of oneness. We are curious about and respect everyone's culture and help each other all the time. Our colleagues are right beside us, and no matter what, they've always got our back. I constantly learn new techniques every day which I could never have achieved without my co-workers helping me immensely.

The experience of what I've learned here is immense. I feel fortunate to get hands-on experience on a few extraordinary cases such as Berlin's heart, heart-lung transplants, left ventricular assist devices, robotics, total cranial vault remodeling for hydrocephalus, and radiotherapy treatment for various cancers, to name a few. The main purpose of every job search should be to find work you love doing.

My amazing supervisor, team leads, and my amazing colleagues trained me well. With rigorous training, it's like transferring years of knowledge within a short span efficiently.

I want to thank each one who took the time to teach me. I feel fortunate to work with eminent colleagues, and I really want them to know how much their actions mattered to me. I take inspiration from most of the people I've met, and I appreciate every little thing they did that positively impacted me. I personally feel Dr. John Stulak, Dr. Philip Spencer, Dr. Dearani, Dr. Maurice Villavicencio Theoduloz, and Dr. Todd Rasmussen inspire me. When I listen to how they dedicate themselves to the welfare of their patients and help us in every possible way, I realize I've come so far from where I began.

I've come across many colleagues who've overcome much more hardships than me. I want to thank you all for not giving up and give you all a huge shout-out. You are all amazing, and my journey seems effortless. When you have an affectionate family, it makes you happier, healthier, more productive and forces you to focus your attention on the things in your life that are going right. I am always grateful to our amazing leads — Don Leisen, Ben Quimby and Luke Schlee — for managing our team.

Behind every successful woman is a tribe of supportive family who have her back. This sentiment suits me right.


Tags: Cardiovascular Diseases, Dr. John Stulak, Dr. Joseph Dearani, Dr. Maurice Villavicencio Theoduloz, Dr. Philip Spencer, Dr. Todd Rasmussen, Sharanya Nakka, Voices of Mayo

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