Dr. Mohan Hangs His Hat After a Colorful Career Across the Globe


Dr. Vijay Mohan is retiring after serving Pampa for 32 years. Born and raised in India, Dr. Mohan started his career as a surgeon overseas before coming to the United States in 1978.

Early Life and Career in India

“I come from India, a nice part of India that is very tropical. It is a place called Kerala, it is the most friendly of all states and everyone lives in harmony. It’s also the most educated part of India; the literacy rate is at around 98 percent. I was lucky that I was born there,” Dr. Mohan reminisced.

His interest in reading, writing and learning english started at a young age and was strongly influenced by his mother. 

“My interest in reading and writing came from my mother. I started reading and visiting the libraries there when I was about 8 (years old.) My mother was a school teacher, so she has influenced my life from every turning point. She talked me into reading books that were translations of (British English stories.) We were under the British before, so mainly our type of English was British English,” Dr. Mohan explained.

“My interest in the United States started in middle school, when I was about 12 years old. It was because I read three books; one was Little Women, another was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and the third was a biography of my hero, Abraham Lincoln.”

After graduating high school, Dr. Mohan went to a 4-year college and graduated to one of the best medical schools in India. He knew from that point that he wanted to pursue a higher education in the United States.

“After we get our M.D. (in India), we enter a residency program. During the residency program, I had excellent training under two British surgeons; one was a plastic surgeon, the other was a hand surgeon. The Chief of Surgery (there) was impressed with me, and so with the stroke of his pen I was (recommended) for a residency program in New York. He had a lot of pull in the United States, and so he was able to get it for me, which was wonderful.”

“All my friends wanted to go to England for higher education, and I said no, I’m going to the United States,” Dr. Mohan shared. 

With a residency in place for Dr. Mohan in New York, he planned to make the big move to the United States fresh out of medical school. 

The 4-Year Delay

“I was waiting for my passport, and unfortunately, Pakistan attacked India. I was drafted into the army. So instead of going to the United States, I was committed to serving four years in the armed forces. I was about 23 or 24 years old,” Mohan remembered.

“So, I spent four years in the army. I was a thoracic surgeon, so (it was) a lot of trauma (surgeries), and it was in unfriendly territory close to Afghanistan. There was a lot of times I came close to dying because of all the grenade explosions. I had no choice. But while I was serving in the army, I also took care of civilian people. It was a small town with no doctors or surgeons, so I took care of them.”

Dr. Mohan shared the highlight of his career as a surgeon in the Indian army. 

“I saved the life of a young 21 year old woman who was being taken to the burial ground, (with members of the town) thinking she was dead. A guy came to me on a horse and told me ‘Doctor, I don’t think she’s dead.’ So I sent my jeep and brought her up, and I saved her life with (blood) transfusions. It was a post-partem hemorrhage and she had been bleeding for ten days,” Dr. Mohan said.

“Since I was in the army, I had access to blood donations and the soldiers volunteered to let me take their blood and give it to her. I stayed with her all night and the next day she opened her eyes. After about 14 days, she went home.”

50 years later, while living state-side, Dr. Mohan inquired about the woman he cared for back then.

“When I was googling that place, I found the name of a journalist. So I wrote an e-mail to him and asked if she was still alive. He wrote back and said ‘Yes, doctor, you saved her life and she is still alive.’ This was 50 years after what happened,” Mohan said enthusiastically.

Moving to the United States 

“So after I got out of the army, I said it’s time (to go to the United States.)” 

“In order to come to the United States, you had to pass an exam; which I had already passed when I got my M.D., so it was easy for me to come here,” Dr. Mohan shared.

“I came to New York in 1972. I spent the next six years in training between New York Medical College and a hospital Downtown which was very close to the old World Trade Centers in lower Manhattan. These two hospitals were trauma centers because one was close to Harlem, and the other was close to the Italian Mafia and the Chinese gangsters.”

“Out of five of those six years of intense training, my chief (surgeon) was a thoracic surgeon so I had a lot of exposure to all kinds of operations. I finished my training in 1977. Then for one year I worked as a surgeon in the same hospital doing thoracic surgeries and endoscopic procedures.”

From New York to the Midwest

“I got a fellowship offer from Pheonix, Arizona and I was planning to go there. But, my wife’s elder sister was living in Lubbock, Texas and she said ‘no, don’t go to Pheonix, we need to be closer to each other.’ The closest cities aside from Lubbock were Pampa and Amarillo, and my wife said let us be here (in Pampa),” Dr. Mohan said of his transition to the Texas Panhandle.

“There was a clinic called Pampa Clinic that was at 1002 N. Hobart. The chief of the clinic was Dr. Bellamy, and he had two associates, Dr. Brown and Dr. Beck. They accepted me as a doctor. At the time, the hospital here was a county hospital called Highland General Hospital and it had over 120 beds. They only had private care and family physicians, about 15 of them. They were very friendly to me, they accepted me,” Mohan shared.

“I learned a lot from them about bedside medicine and how to deal with (small-town) patients. It’s a community that is very friendly, and so I learned a lot about bedside medicine, ethics and general practice. Those days, doctors were kept on a high pedestal, and they lived up to all of it. They were very unselfish, hard-working doctors.”

Dr. Mohan was the only board-certified surgeon in Pampa at the time of his arrival. 

“Then the hospital became an HCA hospital, and we started getting more specialists like orthopedic surgeons and gynecologists,” he said. 

Spending the ‘80s in “Little Chicago”

“My experience in trauma surgery was really helpful, because Pampa was a risk community; there was a little bit of violence every weekend.”

This was also was around the time Pampa was nicknamed “Little Chicago,” which Dr. Mohan remembers well.

“Pampa was a little chicago. Stab wounds and gunshot wounds were pretty common back then.”

“I had a patient with a a stab wound that was almost a DOA when he came here, he had lost a lot of blood. He was actually an innocent bystander, and there was a brawl going on. So, I took him to the operating room and fixed the bleeder- I was able to do that because of the quality of my training in New York,” he shared.

The patient he treated back recently sent Dr.Mohan a letter.

“After Dr. Mohan announced his retirement, I got this card in the mail and I opened it up and it was this patient,” said Kim Thompson, Dr. Mohan’s office manager since the day he opened his clinic 32 years ago.

“He said in the letter that him and his wife had been discussing him and had googled him. They found out he was retiring and sent him a letter thanking him for saving his life. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico now,” she said.

Dr.Mohan’s Medical Milestones in Pampa

Because of his experience in New York with endoscopic procedures, Dr. Mohan was the first endoscopic surgeon in Pampa.

“Those were the days that when you needed an endoscopy, you had to go to Amarillo. So when I came and started doing them with a couple of nurses I trained, it became part of my practice as well,” Dr. Mohan said.

“He brought it here,” Kim added.

“He also did the very first microscopic gallbladder surgery in Pampa in 1991,” she said.

“That was a milestone. Nowadays, 99 percent of gallbladder surgeries are done microscopically,” Dr. Mohan mused.

The Accident that Forced Him to Slow Down

“Like everybody’s life, I had my ups and downs, trials and tribulations, triumphs and tragedies. Our life is never so smooth, so I have also had my share of problems,” Dr. Mohan shared.

In 2009 while on a trip abroad, Dr. Mohan had an unfortunate slip.

“I had a neck injury when I was coming back from the Holy Land. Unfortunately, I slipped in a restaurant, hit my head and broke my neck. So after that, I haven’t done any hospital-based procedures. It took me 12-14 months to get well,” he said of the incident.

“So, since I had this small building, I just started doing office-based procedures.” 

Before the fall, Dr. Mohan worked back and forth between PRMC and his clinic across the street.

Saying Goodbye

“I have been blessed with excellent office managers, receptionists, nurses and operating room assistants. My present office manager (Kim Thompson), she has been with me for 32 years. The receptionist has been with me for 12 years,” Dr. Mohan said of those who have worked with him in his clinic.

He also had some remarks about the hospital staff at PRMC.

“I would say that the administrative staff, the operating room staff, the nurses, and everyone else have all been equally good to me. I have been treated very well by the different departments of this hospital and so I’m very happy to have practiced here as long as I could.”

And of course, always being one to check up on his patients, even after 50 years, Dr. Mohan was emotional when discussing his patients.

“I’ve been blessed with serving a community of this quality. They are very faithful to me, very loyal patients through almost three generations.”

Kim Thompson, who opened the doors with Dr. Mohan in 1985 and is helping him close them in 2023, was emotional as she described her 32 years at his side.

“The first time I saw him was when I was a patient when I was 17. Then I came to work with him when I was 20 years old and I’ve been with him ever since,” she said.

“He is like a father to me, not like an employer. He’s family. He taught me so many things, he always had a way of explaining things.”

In fact, the only other career Thompson had before working with Dr. Mohan was at The Pampa News in the Classifieds’ department. Aside from that one year, she has spent her entire working career at Dr. Mohan’s side. 

The Only Regret

I have no regrets except that there was no teaching hospital here; I like acedemia. I used to teach students in Cornell College in New York, so I missed it,” Dr. Mohan shared.

“He would have been an excellent teacher,” Kim added.

Retirement and the Future

Dr. Mohan plans on enjoying his retirement traveling to see his children and grandchildren, painting and playing the piano and harmonica. He is the proud owner of a collection of harmonicas, and sings and writes poetry as well. We here at The Pampa News hope these are your best years yet, Dr. Mohan. thank you for serving Pampa.