It was during his medical school training that Dr. Jitin Sondhi, BSc’02, first witnessed the death of a patient – a loss that unsettled him despite the accepted terminal prognosis.
“I did not cope well,” he explained. “I found myself feeling as though I had failed the patient somehow.”
His physician supervisor at the time supported him through this emotional journey. “He explained that a patient dying in our care is not always a failure, but can be part of our focus of care.”
At his supervisor’s advice, Dr. Sondhi pursued several palliative care electives following his first interaction with death and dying. With further exposure, he developed an appreciation for the value of this essential medical field.
“The impact palliative care has on patients and their loved ones is something that gives me a sense of fulfillment I don’t know I could find in any other field of medicine,” he said.
Dr. Sondhi wears several hats as a physician serving patients in Ingersoll and Woodstock, Ontario. He is currently shifting his primary focus from family medicine to palliative care, as demand for the field continues to grow in his communities. He is also the Chief of the Emergency Department at Alexandra Hospital in Ingersoll, a position he has held for eighteen months.
“I’ve always had a fascination with emergency medicine due to the challenges it presents on a daily basis,” he explained. “At any moment my clinical skills can be put to the test by the sudden appearance of a critically ill patient.”
With an emotionally challenging work life, Dr. Sondhi says his wife, a registered nurse, helps him through the difficult days.
Dr. Sondhi works out of an office at Sakura House, a residential hospice in Woodstock serving Oxford County. Most of his time is spent on the road, calling on patients in their homes. In addition, he completes three to four emergency room shifts during a typical week.
For his dedication to at-home care, Dr. Sondhi was recently nominated for Heroes in the Home – an annual awards program sponsored by the South West Community Care Access Centre recognizing caregivers and health professionals who go above and beyond to support quality of life for patients in their own homes.
Working in a smaller community provides flexibility in Dr. Sondhi’s career and lifestyle. “The appeal of this type of community has always been the opportunity to be a true generalist,” he said. “It allows me to get a complete perspective with regards to comprehensive care.”
Dr. Sondhi grew up in Ingersoll. He then completed his bachelor of science at Western University. During his undergraduate years, he gained research and lab experience at Robarts Research Institute.
He graduated from medical school at the University of Toronto, and completed a residency in family medicine at McMaster University.
As an adjunct faculty member with Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s Distributed Education program, Dr. Sondhi works with medical students and residents during their core and elective rotations.
The experience is an opportunity for him to teach and to learn. “I love the enthusiasm and the eagerness,” he explained. “It reminds me of why I love my job.”