A first meeting with Drs. Kowsika Movva and Vineet Kumar reveals a strong bond, coupled with deeply held compassion and conviction.
Both born in India, their paths crossed years later during medical school in the Caribbean and clinicals in Chicago. Ultimately their residency program brought the couple to Carbondale, where they purchased their first home as husband and wife.
Dr. Movva: Curiosity and Compassion
An only child, Dr. Movva spent part of her childhood in Malaysia. Frequent moves helped her experience different countries and cultures. She is the first in her family to pursue medicine.
“I was born into a family where education is valued more than anything else. I wanted my chosen profession to parallel my personal ideas and values. My parents worked hard to carve a beautiful path for me. I am lucky to have parents who are understanding and helped nurture my interests and passion. Whatever I have achieved so far is only possible because of their dedication and hard work. They have and will always be my inspiration,” she said.
Dr. Movva chose family medicine as her specialty because it gives her the opportunity to become an important part of her patient’s lives over an extended period.
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“One can provide continuous healthcare for patients of all ages…from newborns to the elderly. More education leads to better health outcomes and I like to take the time to educate. Health is such an important aspect of living vibrant and fulfilling lives and getting to be part of that journey makes medicine more than just a job,” said Dr. Movva.
Dr. Kumar: Analytics and Medicine
While Dr. Kumar spent his early years in India, he spent most of his childhood in Hahira, a small community in Georgia, with his younger brother and parents. He, too, is the first in his family to become a physician.
“I developed a love for math and science very early on, and actually wanted to become an accountant. I later developed an interest in sciences and have always been a people-person. My desire to become a doctor grew slowly over the course of several years. I chose family practice because it is like the ‘jack of all trades’, there is no limitation on the things we learn and do. I chose hospital medicine because it gives me the opportunity to care for patients in the most vulnerable of times. Everyday provides a challenge to care for patients and families in their most vulnerable state, and despite long hours and stress, I cannot imagine doing anything else,” said Dr. Kumar.
Dr. Kumar said his parents are his inspiration and his mentor is Dr. Jairaj Goberdhan.
“My parents are first-generation immigrants, so they had to work hard to lay the groundwork for us, that was a big inspiration for me. I also had the privilege to shadow Dr. Jai during my summer breaks in undergrad, which helped steer me to this path. It gave me a glimpse into the everyday life of a family physician, both the highs and lows. He appreciated my professional ability, work ethic and sense of humor; traits he said are essential to become a good physician. This experience gave me the confidence to pursue medicine”, said Dr. Kumar.
Working through a pandemic created challenges. Dr. Movva was pregnant with their first child.
“I was not only caring for patients, but also keeping myself safe,” she said. “So much was still unknown about the virus and how it affected pregnant women and newborns. I had amazing colleagues who helped take care of sick Covid patients in the hospital. It was a scary time to bring a baby into this world, but it has also brought us a lot of joy,” she recalled.
During the pandemic, Dr. Kumar was asked to be a part of SIH System Incident Command as a medical inpatient specialist. He assisted with the creating inpatient guidelines and policies during the initial response.
Caribbean to Chicago
Though they met at medical school, they didn’t begin dating until a year later during clinicals in Chicago.
“In medical school, I was really shy, so I didn’t really start talking to her until a month into our schooling,” said Dr. Kumar. “She has always been there for me during the highs and lows. Having someone in the same field has been a great strength, as they understand the challenges that come with being a physician. She is an amazing wife, mother and a caring physician. We are able to make it work by taking turns, good communication and most importantly by compromising.”
“We had so much in common,” said Dr. Movva. “We both had similar interest, goals and shared family values. He was unpretentious, honest, hard-working, funny and a great cook!”
The doctors completed their residencies at SIU, which brought them to Carbondale.
“We really fell in love with Southern Illinois, which is why we stayed back to practice. It was an easy transition. The area provides a strong sense of community, you are trusted and appreciated by the patients you serve, and you become a valued member of the community. Less traffic is also a bonus,” said Dr. Kumar.
Hobbies and Interests
The couple enjoys cooking and traveling. If she weren’t a physician, Dr. Movva would likely be a photographer.
“If I am not at work, you will see me with a camera trying to capture all the milestones of our son, Viyann, who I am sure, like my husband, is tired of having a camera in his face.”
Dr. Kumar said he would “hands down” be a chef if medicine had not been his chief calling.
“I especially love to BBQ, have friends over and entertain. I am a foodie and I travel mainly to experience different cultures and try different foods. I try to recreate those at home, and I am happy to say I am successful for the most part but have been banned from the kitchen by my wife a few times,” he said.