Jay Patel, MD, an interventional radiologist at Franciscan
St. Margaret Health in Hammond, Indiana, always wanted
to be a racecar driver ever since his father took him to the
tracks as a child. Now, he’s living out his dream. Patel has
had success participating in the Sports Car Club of America
national competitions, and even has had the chance to drive
on the famous Daytona International Speedway. While
racing and practicing medicine may seem like distinctly
different careers, Patel has discovered that the two worlds
can be mutually beneficial.
On the similarities of racing and medicine: For a lot
of people, when they first step into a racecar, they get an
adrenaline rush. Even in medicine, you get that rush when
everything is happening so quickly. That’s how racing has
helped me in medicine, and vice versa: You are able to
control the adrenaline rush. Once you are able to control
that, you can step back and process information quickly; but
if you let that adrenaline take over, your body and mind is
all over. You can’t focus, or if you do focus, you only focus
on one thing. You have to be able to step back and process
all that information.
On using racing to help patients: I work with a trainer to
get in shape. My diet has changed a lot over the past four
years and it’s given me incentive to live a healthier lifestyle.
When I’m talking to patients, I give them bits and pieces
about my diet. I can’t tell them to go overboard on exactly
what I’m doing, but some of the patients have done it and
they say they feel a lot better. Some of them have lost a lot
of weight, which is good.
On safety in racing and medicine: I’d rather spend more
money on the safety aspect of a car than trying to get five
more horsepower out of a car. Instead of spending $500 for
a part, I’d rather spend on an option to make the car safer
for me. Same thing when I do procedures. You want to
maximize the safety for the patient. I’ll do a procedure using
a certain wire that’s safer and might cost a little bit more.
You have to weigh the risks, benefits, and costs.
COLOR PALETTE - February 2011
70 HealthLeaders ■ March 2015