By Wendy Sarubbi | September 25, 2014 3:12 pm

Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, an Orlando-based urologist who serves as a volunteer faculty member at the UCF College of Medicine, has been elected President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), which represents over 65,000 doctors of Indian origin in the United States and is the nation’s largest ethnic medical organization.

Dr. Jahagirdar has cared for patients in Florida for 35 years. He graduated from the University of Bombay, and completed his residencies in general surgery and urology in Cincinnati and at Tulane University’s Charity Hospital in New Orleans. He served as president of the Orange County Medical Society from 2012-2013.

He wants education, volunteerism and care for the medically underserved to be AAPI’s focus during his tenure. Dr. Jahagirdar pointed out that one in seven Americans is treated by a doctor of Indian origin, and the percentage is even higher in medically underserved rural and urban areas. He wants to partner with all national and local organizations including the African-American and Hispanic doctors to help address healthcare disparities and challenges. “The Indian physician sees the most diverse group of patients in the U.S.,” he said. “If you are looking to provide service to a diverse population, you need to include Indian doctors.”

As the new president, Dr. Jahagirdar helped secure Orlando as the site of AAPI’s national convention in June 2015. “This will help boost the Orlando economy and showcase the extensive contributions Indian American doctors have made to the American healthcare system,” he said.

AAPI members provide care to people in need across the nation and globe. In India, the group has organized 17 permanent health clinics that serve over a million patients a year. Its student exchange programs allow American medical students to provide supervised care to needy areas overseas. Here at home, AAPI members organize and participate in free healthcare clinics and have established a nationwide childhood obesity awareness program that has been adopted in more than 50 schools. “You may call me old fashioned,” he said, “but I believe medicine is about service.”

Central Florida’s Association of Physicians from the Indian Subcontinent (CAPI) is a strong supporter of the UCF College of Medicine, and recently donated $30,000 to create a scholarship endowment for students of Indian origin based on academic achievement and financial need. Dr. Jahagirdar said supporting young physicians in training will continue to be a focus of the national organization. One of AAPI’s priorities is to increase the number of residency programs across the country to ease the physician shortage and Dr. Jahagirdar said Indian physicians have a role in training medical students on cultural sensitivities, so they can better communicate with diverse patients. Dr. Jahagirdar’s perspective on cultural sensitivity is simple and powerful: “Sincerity, kindness and knowledge always shine through when you are dealing with patients,” he said.

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