BackTable / Urology / Podcast / Episode #62
Finding the Path: Purpose, Passion, Peace
with Dr. Manoj Monga
In this episode, Dr. Aditya Bagrodia speaks with Dr. Manoj Monga, chair of the urology department at UC San Diego, about his unique journey to becoming a urologist as well as extra-academic passions that have led him to understand the importance of advocacy.
BackTable, LLC (Producer). (2022, November 2). Ep. 62 – Finding the Path: Purpose, Passion, Peace [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.backtable.com
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Dr. Manoj Monga
Dr. Manoj Monga is the chair of the urology department at UC San Diego in California.
Dr. Aditya Bagrodia
Dr. Aditya Bagrodia is an associate professor of urology and genitourinary oncology team leader at UC San Diego Health in California and adjunct professor of urology at UT Southwestern.
First, Dr. Monga shares the story of his childhood. As an Indian born and raised in Belfast, Ireland, he had to adapt to living among a different culture and religion. In his childhood, he was surrounded by bomb scares and bomb drills because of the religious and political conflict in Ireland. His parents ultimately made the decision to move to Ontario, Canada for family safety. He finished his schooling in Ontario, Canada and noted that his decision to pursue medicine was more based on a path of least resistance rather than initial passion. He chose medicine out of practicality, but was interested in a musical career because he played the french horn, trumpet, and saxophone. He still plays musical instruments and has realized that many musical skills, such as practice and challenging himself, have translated into medical skills.
He then speaks about his early career. Dr. Monga did not start out with an ultra-focused goal of becoming a urologist. He started as a categorical general surgery intern at Tulane because of his interest in trauma and reconstructive surgery. In his second year in Louisiana, he gained his first exposure to urology and decided to fill an empty spot in the urology residency program. However, he took a 1 year research gap at Tulane to study endourology, pyelonephritis, and andrology. He noted that this year helped him with aligning his career with his wife’s career and prompted him to think about an academic career. He finished residency and trained at a variety of institutions, such as UC San Diego and the Cleveland Clinic.
Then, Dr. Monga reflects about his transition to UC San Diego as the chair of urology during the pandemic. It was difficult to leave his family at first, but he was impressed by the teamwork and selflessness of his department. Shortly afterwards, he became the secretary of AUA, a position that was fulfilling, but also one that challenged his time management skills.
Finally, Dr. Monga explains why taking action and being an advocate is so important in his professional and personal life. Inspired by recent events, he has taken multiple trips to provide medical relief in Ukraine. He found that the refugee history he encountered abroad resonated with him and motivated him to create a better world for his kids by developing meaningful passions. He encourages using urology for social responsibility by advocacy and raising funds for important causes instead of stopping at social media to raise awareness.
Finally, Dr. Monga sums up three big lessons he has learned. First, he is fortunate for the open paths and family/mentor support. Second, he has learned to temper his enthusiasm for simple answers to complex issues. Finally, he realizes the importance of sharing experiences to let people who are suffering know that they are not alone.
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