I first met Amitha Mundenchira when I was 9 years old…
Yes, 9. When we came over to Canada as a family, she was known as Dr. Mundenchira to me, and she was our family doctor.
She was the best doctor I had ever had. (I tell her this all the time.)
However, after years of her being our doctor she moved out of the city and was too far for us to keep seeing her. We had to find a new doctor. Soon after she moved out of the city, she in fact decided on a little career change. Or should I say a HUGE career change.
Dr. Mundenchira when from well-known physician to Abhithi, her stage name for model, dancer, singer, artist.
That’s right! Pretty badass right? Well today, I’m bringing her on the blog to talk more about this career change. How she went about it, what people thought, and any advice to anyone else who is also thinking about a career change.
Without further ado, let’s welcome Amitha Mundenchira to The Chic Confidential.
Introduce yourself to The Chic Confidential. Tell us about your time as a physician.
Hello readers, thank you for this opportunity to share my story. I am Dr. Amitha Mundenchira, a practicing physician. I also have a slash career as an artist under my stage name Abhithi.
I grew up in an orthodox Keralite Christian family in Qatar, where academic excellence was of utmost importance – pursuing nonacademic activities like the arts was discouraged. We moved to Canada when I was in high school. I completed my high school and B.Sc. undergraduate degree in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Thereafter, I studied at and graduated from the University of Toronto with a M.D. degree. I went into full-time practice as a family physician and low risk obstetrician. I immersed myself in work.
I was stable financially and was doing what was expected of me. I was striving for perfection, meeting others’ expectations and was scared to step outside my comfort zone. Eventually, I became an unhappy, unhealthy individual.
I began to realise that I needed to let go of workaholism, make time for self-care and explore a life beyond medicine. To change my scope of medical practice, I earned a MBA in Healthcare Management from UMass Amherst.
Over time, I have found the right scope of medical practice that helps me to achieve a balance between my medical and non-medical passions.
When did you start having thoughts about changing your career from physician to artist?
I am grateful to my parents for moving to Canada. The liberated life in Canada helped me to discover my true self – someone who is fearless about living life on her own terms to the fullest.
As I hinted earlier, I entered a burnout phase about 4-5 years into full-time practice as a physician. I was depressed and obese. I was not sure what to do. Then, one summer, my mother got diagnosed with a genetic medical condition. That was a wake-up call for me.
I decided to start making time for self-care first.
I started on a journey to regain my physical and mental health. This included cutting down hours at work, eating healthier, exercising and taking up activities to explore my passion for the arts. As I became physically healthier, my self-esteem got a boost. I realised that the healing power of the arts has to be incorporated into my new career.
Thus began my simultaneous career change as an artist – singer, dancer, actor, model, writer, TV presenter, TV talk show host, radio host.
I’m sure going from physician to dancer wasn’t an easy transition – can you tell us more about that? How did your family and friends react? Were they supportive?
Initially, dance was part of my fitness and stressbuster regimen. The more I explored various forms of dance, the more passionate I became about it. I had to work harder than the professional dancers in the various classes. But my hard work got noticed eventually by my teachers; I moved up from student status to performer status.
I have trained in different styles including Bollywood, Hip Hop and Contemporary. I have performed at prestigious events across the GTA with some of Toronto’s top South Asian dance companies to large audiences including events like IIFA, IFSA, Trillium Diwali Gala and much more. Recently, I also received certification as a Zumba instructor.
Dance paved the way for my other artistic avatars ; for each avatar, I had to start from the bottom and work my way up. I was finally happy; so, the amount of work needed did not deter me.
My extended family, my friends and even my patients have always been supportive about my transition. My immediate family has been the hardest to get support from. I believe it is because of two main reasons. First, South Asian traditions look down upon the arts as a career especially for a female, unless you have attained celebrity status in the entertainment industry. Second, I had let go of the South Asian traditional stereotypical role for a female to get married and settle down with a family.
What advice can you give someone who is also thinking about making a big career change?
Being happy in your career is about having a balance between monetary and mental satisfaction. If you are not in that balanced state, do not hesitate to make a change in your career. It is not an easy road, but achieving long lasting true happiness makes the journey totally worth it.
Do not make a hasty transition. Get organized about your long-term goals and create a plan. This will help to minimize the chances of a financial crisis during the transition. Work hard and persist. Re-evaluate your plan periodically until you arrive at your destination. The journey matters – do not lose sight of that. Stay humble because life is unpredictable. Appreciate those who support you.
What are 3 tips you would recommend to anyone at a 9-5 job right now who wishes they were doing their own thing?
Go for it – only your mind stops you.
- List possibilities for an alternate career based on your passion(s) and narrow down options.
- Explore the options with the help of mentors and community resources. This may include further education or volunteer services to either update skills or gain new skills.
- Believe in yourself despite the possible lack of support. Make time for yourself daily to relax and rejuvenate. This will help you to seize each day with confidence and with your best potential. Celebrate even small wins.
Are you still working as a physician? Is that still your passion, or…?
Yes, I continue to work as a physician in an urgent care family practice setting.
When I suffered the burnout, I had felt a loss of passion for being a physician. However, after I regained my physical and mental health, this passion has been reignited with a more clear purpose.
Prior to the burnout, I was working 24/7 as a physician to be a saviour and to make the world a perfect place. The focus was on providing treatment and secondary prevention. Now, I am a physician passionate about helping others to help and empower themselves. I practice what I preach and lead by example. I bring my artistic purpose into my physician work and hope to heal through primary prevention as well.
Talk to us about time management? How do you balance your day job and your career as an artist?
I love planning and creating a schedule for everything I do from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. Daily self-care/relaxation time is scheduled too.
For every project, I set start and end dates. Then I create tasks to be executed towards completion of the project.
Since I have simultaneous projects on the go, I prioritize tasks for the different projects on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
What is one piece of advice that you would give a young person reading this on passion and career?
Let go of expectations and believe in yourself. Focus on a career that has room for your passion(s). Do not be afraid to re-evaluate as you achieve growth as an individual.
Where can people find you? Drop your social handles!
Physician Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dramhealth
Physician Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/dramhealth1
Physician Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dr.am_health
Artist Facebook/Youtube/Spotify : ABHITHI
Artist Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/therealabhithi
Artist Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/therealabhithi
Artist website: www.abhithi.ca
Thank you SO much Amitha for sharing your admirable story with us. I know there are a TON of people out there who are stuck in a job they hate and wishing for a career change. And this story will hopefully inspire some to follow their passion.