For Dr. Saumya Dave (MD ’15), being a writer was never just something she wanted to do on the side; it was always part of the full equation. Growing up, she dreamed of being both a doctor and a writer, and those dreams followed her to medical school, where she realized she wouldn’t be happy unless she did both.
“I knew it would probably be harder and maybe messier and a little bit more complicated, but as I kept thinking about it, I knew that’s what I had to have,” she says.
Graduating from the Medical College of Georgia’s Athens campus, she matched at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City in psychiatry, where she currently teaches narrative medicine to first-year interns; the class combines themes in medicine and in art in order to provide greater reflection and hopefully more meaningful patient care.
“I have always told myself that I have two jobs. Medicine is my first job, and writing is my second job. The writing job has looked different from year to year depending on what project I was pursuing, but I definitely always felt like I couldn’t waste time.”
—Dr. Saumya Dave
Along the way, she also blogged for The Lancet Student, went on a reporting trip to West Africa with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, got married, worked on a novel, started a nonprofit with her husband, had a baby and started out in in private practice.
And that novel she was writing? Not only did she finish it, she signed a two-book deal with Penguin Random House. The first book, Well-Behaved Indian Women, was released in July and was favorably reviewed by The New York Times Book Review.
The pandemic has prolonged the young family’s temporary stay with Dave’s parents in Atlanta, and while her second book is due to be published next July, it’s not hard to imagine her present circumstances finding their way into whatever comes after that.
“Now, we’re in a house with four generations of people, literally ages 8 months to 94,” she laughs.