Kadlec doctor celebrates 50 years practicing medicine in Tri-Cities - courtesy of Tri-City Herald

AnjanSenWhen Dr. Anjan Sen started practicing medicine, he didn’t use CAT scans to help diagnose brain problems.

He couldn’t. The technology hadn’t been developed yet.

Same for MRI, which didn’t come along until late 1970s.

Sen was already an experienced physician by then.

The Kadlec doctor’s career has spanned more than half a century. He’s seen the field change greatly.

But, for him, one thing hasn’t changed: his love of medicine and treating patients.

“It’s been wonderful,” he said of his time as a physician.

He’s not hanging up his white coat anytime soon, but he is celebrating a major milestone.

As of March, the 82-year-old has been a practicing doctor in the Tri-Cities for 50 years.

“Dr. Sen is the longest-tenured neurosurgeon in the Tri-Cities. He’s been an anchor to the community,” said Robbie Loomis, Kadlec’s executive director of neurosciences.

“With his tenure, we’ve been able to build a very progressive neurosurgical program. He’s really laid a great foundation for us, and it’s something that we continue to build on,” Loomis said.

Sen doesn’t perform surgery anymore, but he still works at Kadlec in pain management care.

He’s logged a total of 60 years in medicine, including the time before he came to the Tri-Cities.

He graduated from medical school in India and completed his residency training in neurosurgery in England.

Sen arrived in the Tri-Cities in March 1967 and hit the ground running. At times, he was the only neurosurgeon for miles.

He’s performed surgery around the region, including in Walla Walla, at Lourdes Medical Center and Trios Health, and of course at Kadlec.

“I was telling somebody the other day, there was a weekend (years ago) when I had 30 patients in the hospital out of a total of 90,” he said.

He meant that out of 90 patients who were being treated, 30 were his — and most of them were in the hospital because of a trauma.

Sen has treated so many people over the years that it’s impossible for him to keep track or remember them all.

But they remember him. Former patients approach him regularly to say thank you.

“Just the other day, I was coming out of Fred Meyer and a lady stopped me,” he recalled. “She said, you don’t remember me? I said, ‘No.’ She said, ‘You see this boy’ — there was (a young man in his 20s) — ‘you had operated on his brain tumor when he was 3 years old.’”

Another time, a woman approached him to say he’d been able to diagnose her and get her help.

“And, she said, ‘The best thing was, you didn’t even send me a bill,’” Sen recalled, laughing.

He’d apparently been so busy treating patients that the billing had slipped through the cracks. That happened sometimes, he said.

For him, medicine has never been about money, but about taking care of people.

In his long career, Sen has accomplished a great deal, from introducing CAT scans to Kadlec to serving twice as president of its medical staff.

The list goes on.

One of his biggest points of pride is that numerous fellow surgeons have sought him out when they needed surgery or a loved one did.

“They didn’t go to Seattle (or elsewhere), they had me do the surgery,” Sen said.

Sen stopped performing surgery a few years back because of a condition that affected his hand movement. But he’s found fulfilling and meaningful work in pain management care, he said.

He doesn’t have plans to stop anytime soon.

Sen, who lost his wife, Adele, last year, said “there’s nothing else I really want to do.”

So he’ll keep doing what he loves.

“My father taught me that if you help others, you’ll be happy. I have been very, very happy in that sense. If you can help one person out of 30, that is a wonderful feeling. You cannot beat that,” he said. “I have really enjoyed that part of the profession.”

Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529, @SaraTCHerald