Jackson — Remarkable is the best adjective to describe Dr. Manisha Sethi. The 28-year-old physician and Greenwood native already has an impressive list of accomplishments.
She entered Millsaps College at age 15 and graduated at 18 with highest honors and a Phi Beta Kappa key. She graduated from the University of Mississippi Medical School at age 22 and spent the next four years completing residencies in pediatrics and internal medicine. Her medical clinic, Internal and Pediatric Associates of Ridgeland, will open in May or June.
“I have been blessed and have had some very good opportunities,” she said. “I have always known I would be a physician. Even as a small child I told everyone I wanted to be a baby doctor.”
Sethi says she never intended to leave high school early but was drawn to Millsaps for summer classes because she was not challenged by her high school curriculum. She also had an older sister in Jackson to look out for her. “That first summer was scary but wonderful,” she recalls. “The classes were great and I loved everything about being there — being exposed to different opinions and ways of thinking.”
From that exposure, she knew she was where she needed to be and was allowed to enter Millsaps without a high school diploma, based on her summer school grades and outstanding SAT and ACT scores. She began sitting for college entrance tests as a seventh grader.
In an interesting twist of fate, Sethi finished college the same year her classmates back in Greenwood were graduating from high school. She was allowed to “walk” with her class and received an honorary high school diploma even though she had already earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.
She is one of three children of Dr. S. L. and Raksha Sethi who came to Mississippi from India. Her father came to America to get an education, then returned to India where he and Raksha married. They came to the states together in 1968 and both initially were teachers before entering the restaurant business. The family owns and operates Bumpers and Western Sizzlin restaurants throughout the state.
Sethi is very close to all of her family and gives her parents full credit for encouraging her to achieve. “We were taught that nothing in life is impossible; that if you work hard you will get what you want,” she said. “They never let us forget that. Any success I have had is attributed to my parents.”
As the middle child — there’s an older sister and a younger brother — Sethi says her parents made a huge effort to make her feel special and not left out. “My father did not want me to have a ‘middle child syndrome’ and made sure I did not,” she says. “I have good relationships with all my family, and it becomes more loving and beautiful as time goes by.”
Growing up in the family restaurant business, she also learned about customer service. That’s a trait she says will be a major part of her medical practice. “I was always exposed to owning a business and that it’s all about taking care of the customers. It’s in my blood,” she said. “I want to provide services and good care for patients and to make it effective and comfortable for them.”
In the patient/customer service mode, Sethi says she will strive to make people feel welcome and provide things in a timely way for their schedules, not necessarily her own. There will be two waiting rooms — one for children and another for adults. The adult waiting area will be wired for Internet connection so patients can use laptop computers. The children’s waiting room will be all about the young population with everything scaled to their size, including a little door only they can enter through.
“Caring will be the culture,” the doctor says. “I have my father to thank for that. I grew up hearing ‘you have to make customers happy.’”
The building will have three physicians’ offices, 11 examining rooms, full X-ray facility and full laboratory. Sethi anticipates adding other physicians in the future as well as clinics in other locations. She is pleased that the clinic will be as close to paperless as possible with total electronic medical records and billing system. Sethi and someone from her staff will train in Greenville, S.C., for one week to learn the system.
“Electronic records is the wave of the future, and many physicians are doing it,” she said. “This way, everyone’s records will be available anywhere they go.”
Until recently, Sethi was a part-time member of the pediatrics faculty at the University Hospital. She continues to serve at the Veterans Administration Hospital and works with the hospitalist group at St. Dominic.
With the combination of internal medicine and pediatric specialties, Sethi jokes that she will be able to treat patients from birth to 100. She chose pediatrics because she has an immense love of children and internal medicine because it offers so many interesting cases.
“With internal medicine, you have to use your head and do a lot of thinking. That’s true with all of medicine but especially internal medicine,” she says. “We’re trained to think in a very organized, analytical way. With this training I feel I can impact many people.”
She adds that she loves things that are precise and accurate and can’t see herself doing anything else. She sees medicine becoming more evidence based in the future. “It’s important to make decisions based on evidence even though doctors do develop gut feelings about patients,” she said. “Evidence-based medicine forms the foundation and will continue to make progress. It’s nice to see that happen.”
lthough Sethi admits to being happiest when she’s working, she does enjoy doing other things. Spending time with her sister, Monica Harrigill, and her sister’s six-year-old twin daughters is at the top of the list. She also likes to travel, eat out, shop, visit spas and attend concerts and Broadway shows.
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.