fbpx
Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Dr Vyom Sharma: the magic of medicine

The Melb-based medical practitioner has become a voice of reason against COVID naysayers on social media. RAJNI ANAND LUTHRA and RHEA L NATH report.

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

As we sat glued to our devices during lockdown, scrolling through a flurry of COVID numbers, memes and conspiracy theories, Dr Vyom Sharma’s informative, engaging tweets stood out. In fact, armed with his medical knowledge (and a pinch of sass), the young doctor has now become a loud voice of reason against COVID naysayers.

- Advertisement -

Should Dr Karl and Norman Swann be concerned about their day jobs?

“Not in the least!” Dr Vyom laughed, as he spoke with Indian Link. “They’re professional journalists, I’m seeing patients and adding my voice to the mix occasionally. Those guys are irreplaceable.”

Still, the Melbourne-based GP has become a familiar figure in the mainstream media. You might recognise him from ABC TV News, The Drum, or Network Ten’s The Project. Or you might be familiar with his op-eds in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. Perhaps you’ve heard him on Radiotherapy on Triple R?

“I’ve always had the urge to explain things and promote health,” Vyom said simply.

With COVID, his media appearances have increased exponentially. “One particular day I did six interviews: three TV spots, two radio and one print,” he recalled.

In the last year, no doubt some of the COVID conspiracy theories (who can forget 5G and disinfectant?) must’ve left him astonished when ‘evidence-based information’ is the cornerstone of his presentations on platforms like ABC’s Q+A. How does it feel, featuring on the program?

“It’s daunting because of the reputation of the show and the fact that every word will be scrutinized,” he replied. “But I’ve learned over time that I am most accountable to my own conscience. If I stay true to my intentions, and speak within my lane without compromising on the truth, then my job is done.”

And then there’s Twitter, on which Dr Vyom is prolific, taking on celebrities, journalists, politicians, and even some from his own fraternity who put out medical misinformation. He has garnered nearly 18,000 followers, and a few trolls – with whom he’s learned to deal effectively.

“They’re usually not too good with taking back criticism,” he offered. “I’ve learnt to distinguish genuine debate and discussion from trolling. The first disagreement I’ll take on face value, but their response usually gives away their intent. If they’re not interested in promoting common ground, and are only there to score points, I’ll refuse to play their game. You know, if you’re trying hard to win, then they’ve already won.”

READ ALSO: COVID vaccine: Q&A with Dr Vyom

vyom performing

Interestingly, Vyom’s prolific social media presence isn’t attributed to his medical knowledge alone. He’s also a performing artist and magician, and has featured on Australia’s Got Talent, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Magic, medicine, medical commentary – what’s the connection?

“In all three pursuits I’m trying to persuade people. In magic, I try to convince people of a lie. In medicine and medical commentating, I persuade them towards the truth,” Vyom explained eloquently.

In fact, he remains puzzled by others who aren’t drawn to magic.

“You’ve seen something that is seemingly impossible – why wouldn’t you want to know how it’s done? And why wouldn’t you want to learn how to do it? I never undervalued the feeling of astonishment – I still don’t.”

Alas COVID has brought his magic career to an abrupt halt. Just before the pandemic hit, he was booked for a show in the Opera House for Oct 2020. It was cancelled.

Clearly though, performing arts’ loss, has been health communication’s gain. And with both passions, Vyom is becoming a role model to others of his generation in the Indian community.

“Feels strange to hear this, because I still feel like I haven’t grown up. But yes, I guess growing up, I rarely saw Indians in their 20s and 30s. Obviously they were there, they just weren’t visible! Certainly not on TV or in the Australian arts scene.”

He added, “I do feel a bit awkward about being seen as a role model – there are plenty of facets in my life that one should not emulate! But if looking at me makes some youngsters feel that as Indians, we have a place in this society that is relevant, useful and will be recognized by the rest of Australian society, then I’m grateful to be perceived in that light.”

dr vyom sharma
Source: @drvyom/Twitter

Originally from Delhi, Vyom and his family moved to Australia when he was nine years old. Growing up in Melbourne, and briefly Brisbane, Vyom’s Sanskrit name might have been difficult for others to understand.

Any advice for children of new migrants, living with names difficult for Aussies to pronounce? (Think Kritika, which becomes ‘critical’, or Kamini, which becomes ‘kameeni’, if you know what that means in Hindi.)

“I’ve had 26 years to get used to it,” Vyom admitted. “I accept Vee-yom. In fact, it’s how I pronounce my name to others. But yes, it is nice to hear my parents sometimes say it how it’s supposed to be said. I’d advise kids these days to not shy away from the proper pronunciation – now that I’ve ‘grown up’, I find most people want to put in some effort into pronouncing my name properly!” (For those wondering, it would be pronounced Vyo-m, like ‘dome’.)

Before he signed off, we had to ask – how connected is he with his Indian roots or India in general?

“It’s mixed,” he confessed. “I speak Hindi fluently and really like Indian food, eat it often. I love Indian music of all sorts – Jagjit Singh’s ghazals to AR Rahman’s classics. And yet, I don’t have many Indian friends, am seemingly always behind on the big news stories, and never watch Bollywood!”

“Australia is home, and certainly feels like home, but I’ll always carry a part of India in me.”

READ ALSO: Madhu Bhaskaran in 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australian awards

- Advertisement -

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Podcasts

Ep 9: What do young Indians want from love?

0
Growing up in Indian culture, most of us know that love has never been as popular as marriage. Even in the movies, the main...

Ep 8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s...

0
To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

0
  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Latest News

parent teacher meeting

How to engage with your child’s school

0
  After nearly a year of restrictions placed on parents, schools have finally re-opened. Parents can drop little ones off to Year 1, they can...
david shoebridge nsw parliament

Queries on ‘far-right extremism’ raised with NSW Minister

0
  Questions have been asked to NSW Minister of Multiculturalism Geoff Lee about recent incidents in Sydney’s Indian community that have raised concerns about social...
Siji Krishnan, Father’s portrait 2016 (watercolour on rice paper) 134.6 x 315.0 cm. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Indian art at Melb’s NGV Triennial 2020-21

0
  The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Triennial is an art exhibition organised every three years which displays works of contemporary artists and designers across...
mitali modi with kamala harris

Shattering glass ceilings: Mitali Modi on working with Kamala Harris

0
  Emboldened to take action in an era of heightened political polarisation, racial unrest and an uncontainable pandemic, young Indian American Mitali Modi talks here...
The free dialysis centre in Delhi's Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. Source: @mssirsa/Twitter

Free-of-charge dialysis hospital at Delhi’s Bangla Sahib Gurudwara

0
  A 101-bedded dedicated free-of-charge kidney dialysis centre is up and running at the premises of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi. The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara...