After spending her childhood in Uganda and completing her early medical training in England, Naushira Pandya, M.D., was shocked by what she first witnessed as an American doctor.
It was the mid-1980s and physical restraints and bed-bound patients were the norm in the Arizona nursing homes where she served as an intern and, later, an attending physician.
She had studied under some of the best gerontologists in London, where hospitals and long-term care facilities had long embraced the idea that the elderly should be encouraged to stay active.
“In those days, there was a stark difference,” says Pandya, professor and chair of the geriatrics department at Nova Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. “The way we take care of older patients in America, it could still improve.”
Pandya finds herself in a unique position to affect change as board president of The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (AMDA). Since her appointment in April, she has taken part in White House summits on aging and antibiotic stewardship and helped publicize a campaign aimed at reducing unnecessary medical procedures.
She also continues in several clinical and teaching roles. She is medical director of Covenant Village, a CCRC, and a 120-bed Avante skilled nursing facility in Boca Raton, FL.
“Dr. Pandya is a phenomenal teacher,” says Meenakshi Patel, M.D., a member of AMDA’s State Presidents Council.
Pandya considers inspiring passion in others in an industry known for its turnover one of her greatest challenges.
“When I’m in a nursing home, I’m happy,” she says. “I want to know the stories of my patients, see them treated with dignity.”
After watching her work, her husband, Siddharth, took up a career in neuroradiology in his 40s. Her son is a second-year medical resident, and her daughter works as an organizational psychologist.
Since completing a University of Michigan fellowship combining geriatrics and endocrinology, Pandya has racked up more than $3 million in grant funding. She’s dedicated much of her research to bettering management of diabetes in frail, elderly patients, including a critical look at sliding-scale insulin and unneeded blood draws.
Fiercely protective of patients who may no longer be able to advocate for themselves, she wants others to recognize that technological ability shouldn’t dictate when invasive treatments are used. Palliative hospice services have their place in long-term care, she believes.
During AMDA’s annual conference in March, Pandya confessed her love of movies, good jewelry and Riesling wines. She says she enjoys Bollywood (and that she also might have a “crush” on actor Morgan Freeman).
A world traveler who is active in her community, Pandya is proud to have grown an outpatient clinic and to have made “person-centered care” more than a buzz-worthy phrase. She is using her platform to work with pharmacists, doctors and nursing organizations that can influence how the larger medical community treats the elderly.
“We have more clout if we speak with one voice,” she explains.
Earns medical degree from Middlesex Medical School, University of London
Completes internships in general and vascular surgery and general medicine and cardiology at two British hospitals
Completes residency work, followed by three years with Maricopa (AZ) Medical Center
Assistant professor of internal medicine, UMKC School of Medicine
Completes dual fellowship in geriatrics and endocrinology at University of Michigan Medical Center
Directs Alexander Nininger State Veterans Nursing Home in Florida
Becomes medical director of Covenant Village Care
Takes on directorship of Avante at Boca
Elected president of the AMDA board of directors.