Curriculum vitae: Partha Kar
Publication date: 10 May 2017
Partha Kar spent the first seven years of his life in the West Midlands but moved to Kolkata, India, to do the bulk of his schooling and his medical degree. He returned to the UK in 1999 and became a consultant in 2008. He is an enthusiastic user of social media and says he is happy to be in the limelight. He is married and has two children.
I’ve had two great inspirations in my career: Tony Zarlin, with whom I did my clinical attachment when I first moved back to the UK, and David Jenkins, a diabetologist at Worcester Hospital. It was with David that I really came into my own as a doctor. Tony used to tell me how much I could improve a patient’s life by being part of their journey.
When I was growing up in India, if you wanted to get on in life you either became a doctor or an engineer. I look at my younger cousins and they have so many more opportunities now. My parents were both doctors and there was a lot of expectation to follow the same path. My sister is the black sheep of the family—she’s an engineer.
Sink or swim
I had a baptism of fire when I moved to a high flying diabetes team in Bournemouth in 2002. It was a super specialised centre and they expected me to know about things like insulin pumps. It took me back to the days of being a house officer when you didn’t know what was going on. It was sink or swim.
The lowest point of my career was when I applied for a registrar job in Wessex and was told that “people like me” wouldn’t get a job there. I didn’t have a job, I didn’t know what to do and thought about switching specialties. I was at a meeting and met a consultant from Portsmouth, who offered me an amazing opportunity. It was a turning point in my career.
Twitter is great for interacting with patients and politicians. I’m quite open with my opinions but if you stick your head above the parapet you have to be prepared to take some flak.
Fresh pair of eyes
I stepped down as clinical director of my department after five years because, unless you’re a leader like Alex Ferguson, there comes a time when a team needs a fresh pair of eyes.
The job will always have its level of monotony so it’s good to be able to explore different things. The NHS is not Disneyland but neither is it Mordor. The more you explore different areas the more likely it is you’ll find your niche. If you enjoy your job, everything else falls into place.
I love comics, especially Batman. I had the idea of creating a comic book for children with type 1 diabetes to help them understand their condition and look after themselves. The job will always be the job but this is the fun part that keeps it interesting.
Back of a taxi
I had another great idea when chatting to Catherine Peters (consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital) in the back of a taxi. We were talking about the TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) talks and came up with the idea of TAD talks—Talking About Diabetes. Who better to inspire people with type 1 diabetes than other people with type 1 diabetes? We got various people to come along and talk about their condition, such as Sky news presenter Stephen Dixon. We wanted to get the message across that the condition is not a barrier.
Inside the tent
In my current NHS England role I have learnt political and negotiating skills, but most importantly that if you want to change things you’ve got to be inside the tent arguing your case, not outside.
1992 – 1997
MBBS, Nil Rata Sircar Medical College, Kolkata, India
1997 – 1999
Junior doctor, Kolkata, India
Clinical attachment, Kidderminster Hospital
1999 – 2002
Junior doctor, Worcester Hospital
2002 – 2006
Registrar, Bournemouth Hospital
2006 – 2008
Registrar, Portsmouth Hospital
2008 – present
Consultant endocrinologist, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
2009 – 2015
Clinical director, diabetes and endocrinology, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
2010 – present
Royal College of Physicians tutor, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
Named an NHS social media pioneer by Nursing Times
2015 – present
Clinical and professional adviser, Care Quality Commission
First Talking About Diabetes (TAD) talk
Comic book for children with type 1 diabetes launched
2016 – present
Associate national clinical director, diabetes, NHS England