Dr. Leena Atul Khanzode

I grew up in a western part of India. Like most Indians who share my background of growing up in an Indian Middle Class family the choice of professions I had was to become a Doctor or an Engineer. I subsequently joined a medical school – Lokmanya Tilak Municipal medical college in Mumbai, India. I knew I made absolutely the right decision once I got engrossed in my Medical school education.

During my medical school years, I also came to understand something deeply personal. I realized that when I was growing up my family had suffered due to my father’s Psychiatric illness. He had Bipolar disorder. I wanted to learn and read as much as I can about what this illness was and developed a special interest in Psychiatry. I decided then that I wanted to be a Psychiatrist. I wanted to do whatever I could to help my father and our family to come to terms with his illness. This led to me joining the residency program in Adult Psychiatry at King Edward memorial Municipal Medical College, Mumbai, India. I had a new purpose in life. Not only was I helping my father but also helping others like him in an intellectually vibrant environment in a multi-cultural urban community.

Through my interactions with many patients and working closely with my own family I realized how important it is to diagnose and treat Psychiatric Illness early in life. If the illness is treated early it can mean more fulfilling life for the patients and their families. This is when I started to take special interest in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

I got married in 2001 and came to California to join my husband who was pursuing his doctoral degree in Engineering at Stanford University. I continued to find ways to pursue my interests in helping children. I joined the Esther B. Clark School as a volunteer aide so I could continue to help children. Working at the Clark School provided me the opportunity to use the concept of behavior therapy to help children with behavioral problems to grow academically and socially. I also got an opportunity to work as a volunteer Researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Hans Steiner, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine from 2002-2004. My work at the laboratory allowed me to interact with some of the finest minds in psychiatry and also allowed me to get involved in clinical drug trials and psychometric evaluation of incarcerated juveniles. I also realized that if I want to continue to help children I had to do my Residency in the US to be able to practice medicine here. I was thrilled when I was accepted into the Adult psychiatry program at Stanford University. The training years at Stanford have been full of rich experiences in treating patients with challenging mental illnesses. I also completed my fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from Stanford University Medical Center.

Based on the special privilege of training in the West and the East, I have developed a broad cultural perspective combined with a healthy respect for the biological dimension of Psychiatry and Medicine. My family life and education have given me the sensitivity that would prevent me from seeing a patient as a mere collection of symptoms. I have always been keenly aware of the feelings of those around me and I believe such awareness would enable me to respond effectively to the needs of a patient.

My long-term goal is to make the best use of the clinical skills I have acquired during my training as a resident/fellow in order to make the lives of people happier and more peaceful. I am starting my practice to help me achieve this goal. I believe, as Emerson puts it, “Each of us has an obligation to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition.”