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Dr. Harleen Sethi

From the motivation behind choosing a doctor's vocation to challenging the stigma attached to womanhood, know it all from Dr. Harleen Sethi.

Dr. Harleen Sethi is a dentist, who comes from a Raipur-based joint family, and is the eldest of 3 sisters. Being a doctor had always been on her agenda, for she wanted to help people and put a smile on their faces. Her family had a background in business, where conservativeness ran deep. She never really saw many working women around her. Harleen proved her mettle in the patriarchal society and created a meaningful life for herself, as she took up dentistry and schooled for it in Maharashtra.

"Deep down I knew, I never wanted a life like my mother, cooking all day. My father often said I'll have to do the same if I didn't study well, but it was my mother who reminded us of the bitter truth that no matter how hard we studied, we could never escape the burden of household chores, as it was the primary duty of a lady. She used to say, 'be mindful of what you are choosing' and this is what pushed me to decide on the profession of a doctor for myself. All because I wanted to create a non-negotiable status that couldn't be manipulated later no matter how much more or less I earn." Harleen recounted.

At the start of her career as a dentist, Harleen too heard the occasional barb of 'dentists aren't real doctors', but she never let the opinion of others burden her. She knew she was 'Dr. Harleen’ and no amount of sarcasm-laced criticism could change that. She and her husband, who too is a dentist, used to sign their names with the 'Dr' of a doctor even before they entered the medical school for they believed in their dreams and wrote with intent, as a precursor to the modern-day affirmations.

Harleen had stepped into the outfit of dentistry in 2003 and it was also the same year that she got married. She spent a year of her medical practice pursuing a course in Dental Business Masters. It was during this time that she was awarded the best team by her mentors based on a presentation. In the due course of time, Harleen grasped the fundamentals of the profession that went beyond the aim of spreading a smile on someone's face. She realized that 'you can only do charity if you have money.' While money exchanged hands only when you understood the business aspect of dentistry, creation of a team, and handling them, to provide a seamless experience to patients. This also includes HR and the need to connect and communicate with people to raise awareness and educate them.

Harleen likes celebrating milestones and often creates events to break the monotony as well as to keep her team motivated and enthusiastic. She keeps them pepped up about their work, which goes a long way in changing how dentistry is perceived by the world. It went from need-based to a want-based practice, where people are no longer afraid to go to a dentist. Harleen realizes the value of creating friendly visits and the need for continuous improvement.

The following is her advice to the readers,

"What helped me in my journey was to take each day as it comes. Planning is one aspect of the game of life, but don't depend on your plans too much because even if they don't work out, the game isn't over. You need to keep moving. Plans are roadmaps to where you want to go, but changing trajectories and re-evaluating your path at each turn is what's going to get you to the end. Take a detour on your road to life and follow the longer path that's less crowded, instead of treading down the shorter yet busier streets."


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