Dr. Nitin M. Nagarkar, Director of Raipur’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is certain that India, which is already one of the key providers of pharmaceuticals and vaccines in the world, is well on its way to manufacturing medical devices indigenously. Nagarkar, an otology veteran, further tells Education Post’s Tanay Kumar of some important courses in the medical profession that students can opt for if they fail to do well in the annual NEET examination.
Please tell us about the motivation to choose otology and becoming a neck-head surgeon. Was there always an academic atmosphere in your family?
I was born in a normal middle-class Marathi family and my ancestry belongs to Belgaon, which is in Buldhana district of Maharashtra. My father, Madhusudan Nagarkar, was a civil engineer. In my entire family and clan, most of the members are/were either engineers or lawyers. In fact, my son is studying engineering. My grandmother, Shakuntala Nagarkar, expressed her wish for me to become a doctor as my father was posted at the Patna Medical College. And ever since then I got inclined towards this noble profession of curing people.
During my medical graduation, we used to see all the organs of bodies and otology captured my attention. Teachers play a very crucial role in our lives. In the medical field, there are many specializations after MBBS. I qualified for many examinations of post-graduation, but the otology department of PGMIR (Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research) in Chandigarh was very advanced. And it still is.
I thank God that I kept on getting support at every place I’ve been and I am really elated that I have been able to serve common people of this country in my current role
Today, usually students opt for either MS ENT or DNB ENT, but you have completed both of them. If a student has to choose one of these two, which one would be better? Surely, both of them have equal importance in the medical domain.
MS stands for Master’s in Surgery while DNB stands for Diplomate of National Board. As I mentioned, that one appears for many exams after completing MBBS. So, both are post-graduation courses. In DNB, usually a larger population from the diverse medical fields appears for this exam, while often students opt for MS at their own institution. It also adds better perspectives as one gets a chance to interact with more students from the country.
After doing any of them, one can join and start practicing. I completed both of them. It used to be a trend during our days as it used to be considered beneficial that one does MS from their own college and then qualifies for a national level test.
Doctors and medical residents are always important for any nation, but most of the medical devices and medical instruments are manufactured out of India and they are an added expenditure on the country’s exchequer. What’s your take on this?
I would say that we are really rising fast in providing medical solutions to the world. Surely, there are other high-end equipment that need good amount of research and development.
We are on the path of creating and manufacturing medical devices indigenously. Soon we will start having our own medical equipment. We are already one of the key providers of good pharmaceuticals and vaccines. To sum it up, in the forthcoming future, we really are going to be exporters of medical devices also. And, the younger generation of doctors need to work with engineers of medical devices to inform them what is really needed.
Recently, a team at AIIMS Raipur has successfully implanted an artificial talus in a patient’s ankle with the help of 3D printing and we have been reading some other cures done in the healthcare sector via this futuristic technology. In your views, how can 3D printing help the medical fraternity in the future?
Time is changing and so is the technology. So, this surgery you mentioned was successfully operated by a team of orthopedic surgeons of AIIMS Raipur. The patient had a bone tumor in the ankle of one leg. So, we created a mirror 3D image from the second leg, which was fine and then we got it in 3D printed material. The team removed the tumor and placed the 3D-printed artificial talus.
First, imaging of the bone and the body is important. So, technology has really helped us and 3D printing is surely going to help lots of patients as the organs are often in shortage.
NABH has recently issued a notification on Digital Health Standards for Hospitals. Would these standards change medical education in India?
Let me explain it with an example. Over a period of time, we evolved from printed letters to fax then, short messaging services, then email and now even we can communicate via video chat also. So, technology has not only evolved itself over time, but it has transformed our lives also.
Similarly, in the future, one might not need a kind of bag with over a dozen health reports. Your government identity card would be enough to make your health reports digitized across the country and a patient can show it to any doctor and can get the diagnosis. Interoperability within the whole health network would become very easy. For example, even today, digital signatures exist when we communicate over mail. So, these standards will make it easy for the common people. Right now, we are in our transition time and there will be a time when getting benefitted by the digital health records would be very common.
Many students from the PCB in class 12th consider only NEET, MBBS and being a doctor. What are the other fields and streams that biology students should explore, if they fail to get a good score in the NEET exam?
It’s a very good question because surely the country and its youths need to look beyond the conventional and traditional courses that have been existing for decades. Even our own country has registered this diversity in education, but surely, I would say that it is the rate of progress that we need to work on in the diversification of the courses.
Even in medical, the study of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, bioinstrumentation, medical technology, pharmacology, biophysics and many other courses are available that students can opt for their career to grow and to contribute to the nation’s growth as well. Allied health, speech pathology, physiotherapy and many other courses are available.
Nursing is another study which is very challenging but very necessary for our country. The COVID-19 pandemic showed the vitality of this profession to the whole world. Good research guides are another category of profession that is really needed in our country. Further, I would recommend students to choose the medical profession which is really important for our country.
Congratulations to the institute for completing its decade in existence and operation. What are some aspirations of the institute going forward?
First of all, I wish to thank the people of India and the government, both state and central, for creating this institution. On the completion of a decade, I also thank my whole staff and students of the institute.
Coming to the question, the institute has recently just secured 39th rank in the national ranking of medical colleges. It was on the 49th position last year. So, now we are trying our best to be in the top 20 Indian medical colleges and I totally believe that this institute has that potential. My ambition for this institute is to start bone marrow transplant and liver transplant for the well-being of the patients. This would really help a lot of people of Raipur to not move to another city for such procedures. AIIMS Raipur attracts patients from over four neighboring states, besides our own Chhattisgarh state. Patients from Telangana have increased in the past couple of years.
Being a head and neck cancer surgeon myself, I really want to begin and operate efficiently a cancer referral centre. And I know that the district administration, state government and the central government will help AIIMS Raipur to have these facilities. Further, institutes like AIIMS Delhi, Safdarjung Hospital, BHU, and PGMIR Chandigarh, are facing a huge load of patients. Enhancing institutes like AIIMS Raipur would free some load from these institutions.