RACP Fellows in Focus: A/Prof Nitin Kapur
19 Apr 2021
Associate Professor Nitin Kapur is currently a consultant paediatric respiratory and sleep physician at the Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, Queensland, and is also the Director of Paediatric Education and Director of Clinical Training at the same hospital.
"My mentor always taught me that as a specialist, you need to be ‘end-of-the-line’. Diagnostic accuracy was always key for me," shared Nitin.
"That was the main reason I became a specialist. My mentor in Delhi was a respiratory physician, and I wanted to learn flexible bronchoscopies as a proceduralist. Respiratory illnesses are the most common cause of death in India, so I felt I'd be able to make the most difference.”
The Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Department at Queensland Children’s Hospital, where Nitin works, provides care for children with respiratory and sleep disorders. The respiratory clinics help children with difficult asthma, bronchiectasis, chronic lung disease, airway disorders, tracheostomies and nasopharyngeal tubes, congenital and surgical lung disorders, respiratory oncology conditions, general respiratory conditions and cystic fibrosis. With such a wide range of issues to contend with it would be easy to become overwhelmed, but not so Nitin.
"I don't get bogged down by minor issues. I always work on a dictum that, ‘vision without execution is hallucination’. You need to act to get work done. I'm a do-er. I can get work done and simplify complex projects into smaller steps."
The decision to move his young family from India to Canada and then on to Australia certainly falls into the bucket of not getting ‘bogged down’. The adjustment was a significant move for the young doctor, but ever the optimist, "My life has been fairly smooth. My wife is my high school girlfriend, so I've had a very stable life. I have been very, very lucky to have met and worked with people who've been very supportive."
Nitin’s research interests include CNLD, pre-school wheeze, chronic cough and bronchiectasis. What is apparent with Dr Kapur is that he continues to push himself professionally and he was recently appointed the President-elect of the RACP’s Paediatric and Child Health Division, which he is enormously proud of achieving. This deep involvement in the College has proven to be a thoroughly enriching experience, pushing him out of his comfort zone and into the unchartered territory of leadership and mentorship, which sits outside of the day-to-day for Nitin, “I can make a difference over the next four years. And for many, many years after that. I always say the College is not this external body, I feel I am the college, I'm part of the college. The best advantage the College gives me is a platform for advocacy work, where I can make changes, not only at the national level, and if I keep working hard, probably at an international level as well.”
When achievements seem to be free-flowing and regular part of your working life, it might be easy to lose track or even appreciation for the hard work that goes into maneuvering into that position, but Nitin said confidently that his research during his PhD really stands out as something to take satisfaction in.
For anyone working in medicine, achievements like this often naturally lean towards the bigger question of legacy and how they would like to be remembered in their field. But Nitin's modest outlook on life means that he believes, "I'm too young to put a definite stamp on what I want my legacy to be." but, when pushed a little harder he mentioned that the Queensland paediatric training pathway for junior doctors was particularly prominent and has become the ‘model of training networks’, not only in Australia, but probably other parts of the world as well. "If you asked me today, that is what my legacy is, but this will change. I don't see that as my biggest achievement forever."
"I thought a publication with my name on it will make me immortal. That was my push to it. I thought, if I have a publication under 'Kapur,' that was my ticket to immortality." Was immortality achieved for Nitin? Well, you be the judge of that. His definition of "exacerbation in bronchiectasis," is also known as the ‘Kapur's definition’.
Despite the quest to imprint himself on the sands of time forever and a desire to still forge a legacy, Nitin was quick to add that, "sometimes smaller achievements get overlooked, "I was awarded the 'Mentor of the Year' by the Junior Doctors in 2019 at Queensland Children’s Hospital. "That's the only certificate that I have put on my desk space, so I'm very, very proud of that achievement as well."
Watch Associate Professor Nitin Kapur reflect on his career journey