This is part of our ongoing series featuring physician-leaders to help the entire medical staff learn more about these colleagues.
- Division Chief, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center
- Medical Director, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Nebraska Medicine
- Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Nebraska Medical Center
As a child growing up in India, as early as 5 years old, Jayesh Thakker, M.D., MBA, knew he was going to become a doctor. He credits the influence of those extended summer visits with his maternal grandparents and time spent steeping in the aura of his grandfather, a physician trained in ayurvedic (holistic) medicine.
“I used to visit his clinic, and I saw how people admired and respected him,” Dr. Thakker said. “The feeling of happiness I saw on their faces after they had treatment and came back for follow-up, that is what started influencing me. My parents, also, used to tell us that we should always help people – and I thought what a great way to help people, what a great way to live your life.”
A drive to make the greatest impact drew Dr. Thakker to pediatrics and then to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).
“You have these parents bringing in their children, and the family is in great distress; sometimes the child is near death. When they get better from that state and leave the ICU – and they all have smiles – that, to me, is the greatest impact you can have.”
After attending medical school in Mumbai at top-rated Seth G.S. Medical College, Dr. Thakker did an internship and Pediatrics residency at Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial Hospital. From there, he made the move to the United States, drawn by a desire to practice critical care with the latest technology. He completed a second residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Ill., and then a pediatric critical care fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
In 1995, fresh out of fellowship, Dr. Thakker was tapped to set up an ICU at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago. Three years later, the PICU fully functional, Dr. Thakker and his wife, Angeli Thakker, DDS, had to make a move so Angeli could attend an advanced program for international dental graduates.
“Chicago did not have a program, so we started looking for a place where I could get a good opportunity, and my wife could get admission to one of these programs,” Dr. Thakker said.
They chose Omaha, home of Creighton University School of Dentistry and Children’s Hospital & Medical Center.
“The thing I really liked about Children’s – the people I met were extremely open and very welcoming, and I knew the leadership was really focused on doing what is right for children and the community. I thought, ‘How can I beat something like this?’”
Now, 22 years later, Dr. Thakker says he’s never looked back.
“What makes life interesting is all the challenges you come across – and I have never been scared of challenges. I take challenges head on. If it is a good thing to do, then we should do it.”