Medscape at 25: Recognizing Medicine's Rising Stars

Becky Lang

Disclosures

December 07, 2020

Walavan Sivakumar, MD, is the director of neurovascular surgery at Pacific Neuroscience Institute and director of neurosurgery at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in the Los Angeles metro area. He is the president-elect of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons' Young Neurosurgeons Committee.

From the time he was a kid, Walavan Sivakumar, MD, knew he wanted to be a physician. He intended to go into internal medicine, like his dad. But his father had a different suggestion.

"He said, no, your personality's better as a surgeon — impatient and bossy," Sivakumar says, laughing.

In medical school, he was drawn to the brain. "It's the most interesting part of the body and the least well understood, so it's the one that has the most room to grow in terms of our knowledge and understanding," Sivakumar says.

After finishing residency in 2017, he is now the director of neurovascular surgery at Pacific Neuroscience Institute and director of neurosurgery at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in the Los Angeles metro area.

Sivakumar was drawn to the Providence medical center in the South Bay region because of the need for his specialized training.

"There are a ton of [Los Angeles] Lakers who live here, a lot of athletes, but 40% of the population is uninsured or underinsured," he says. "And Providence never turns anyone away."

He created the neurosurgery program at the center, which meant patients no longer needed to travel across Los Angeles for treatment. And time can be crucial. "With these serious neurologic disorders, patients decline very quickly," Sivakumar says.

His work in the neurosurgery department hasn't diminished during the pandemic. Healthcare workers have been going full steam, but he says no one in the operating room has yet gotten sick.

"It gets very taxing, and [COVID-19] is incredibly depressing," Sivakumar says. "The hospital got hit very hard [in the spring]. And it's been getting harder again."

As part of Medscape's celebration of our 25th anniversary this year, we're recognizing 25 young physicians who are rising stars in medicine, poised to become future leaders of their fields. View the full list here.

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