Ashwani Garg, MD, is a family medicine physician with practices in Hinsdale and Carol Stream. [Photo Credit: Dave Pflederer, Precise Look Photography]

May 29, 2024

Lessons Lead Doctor to a Fuller Practice

After graduating in 1999 from Northwestern Medical School, Ashwani Garg, MD, did his residency at UChicago Medicine AdventHealth Hinsdale (then Adventist Hinsdale Hospital).

In the years after residency, his career led him in several different directions. Now an employed UChicago Medicine AdventHealth physician in Hinsdale and Carol Stream, Dr. Garg believes he has come full circle to where he started — but with a greater understanding of the kind of doctor he wants to be. 

When Dr. Garg accepted the residency, he was not a Seventh-day Adventist. He was not even a Christian. He had grown up in a Hindu household and was used to a largely vegetarian diet. “At the time, I didn’t realize what the Adventist legacy meant. All I knew was that the UChicago Medicine AdventHealth Hinsdale cafeteria had all vegetarian food,” he said. 

After his residency, Dr. Garg worked in emergency rooms in rural Illinois and Indiana, where he saw many of the effects of unhealthy lifestyle changes and a lack of preventive medicine. He eventually joined and was certified by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, which uses therapeutic lifestyle changes in treating and preventing chronic diseases. He realized that many of the founders of the organization were Adventists, and it brought him back again to his residency. 

He also met Gabriel Bardan, founder/director of Salient Lifestyle Center and pastor of Elgin Seventh-day Adventist Church, and Terri Dallas-Prunskis, MD, an elder at the same church and co-director of the Salient Lifestyle Center, both of whom became extremely important in his life. He did not consider himself an Adventist, but found himself increasingly drawn to the church, and he began to read the Bible and study Christianity. 

In 2022, he became very sick with COVD-19. Bardan happened to call him, and when he heard how sick Dr. Garg was, he offered to pray for him. Although Dr. Garg still was not a believer, he agreed. “That was my first exposure to the idea of being prayed for,” he said. “I put my guard down and said, ‘Go ahead. I can use all the help I can get.’” 

Shortly after that, there were more opportunities for people to pray with him. “No one had ever asked to pray for me, and suddenly three people were asking,” he said. “I think they were sent to me.” The last person asked him if he accepted Christ as his Savior. “I had started studying Christianity, and I didn’t hesitate for a second,” he said. “I said yes. And from that moment on, I was Christian.” 

Dr. Garg has incorporated both his faith and his belief in lifestyle medicine into his practice now. In June 2023, he joined UChicago Medicine AdventHealth as an employed physician. During his orientation, everything fell into place. 

“I thought, this is where I want to be. I felt I was called to this, like this was a path I was set on from medical school onward,” he said. “I see my job differently now. I see myself helping people live whole [lives].”  

Julie Busch is associate vice president of marketing and communications at UChicago Medicine AdventHealth.