Former dean of the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune, Lt Gen (retd) Madhuri Kanitkar on Monday took charge as the Vice Chancellor of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS), Nashik. She succeeds Dr Deelip Mhaisekar whose term ended in February this year. The VC of Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) Dr Nitin Karmalkar had held additional charge as acting VC of MUHS.
“I feel extremely proud to have been given this responsibility. It is a mission that I have been working on to align medical education and research for patient care and bring in technology to keep student at the centre of activity and this is the best canvas I have got,” Lt Gen Kanitkar, who was deputy chief of the Integrated Defence Staff before she retired on October 31, told The Indian Express.
She said work would be different in terms of heading a civilian institution as opposed to a defence-oriented one. “However, the aims and objectives are similar. I have taken pride in being a doctor, soldier and teacher. A vice-chancellor is a doctor and a teacher so both those roles are the same. As a soldier, it would help me bring values like discipline and putting the nation and organisation first,” said Lt Gen Kanitkar.
A university’s soul lies in post-graduation and post-doctoral research, she said. “In spite of Covid and nearly 75,000 students, the Controller of Examination at MUHS under the guidance of Dr Karmalkar conducted all examinations on time and in a transparent manner. MUHS already has a strong foundation as an affiliating university. “There is a strong management committee and senate that guides functioning of the university,” said the VC who believes in a multi-disciplinary approach.
“With a little bit of automation, we can declare results at the earliest after exams are over. However, what we need to do is push post-graduation and research, while the second thrust is on integrating different systems of medicines. Holistic care requires an integrated approach,” she said, while stating that they would try to develop new courses and encourage research that would bring out the strength of different streams of medicine.
The MUHS VC held several meetings with officials and is in the process of finalising a vision document. This vision roadmap, however, would require inputs from the state on what it needs to improve in the health sector. “I am very excited about this vision roadmap as we have listed several deliverables within a time period. Covid-19 brought out a lot of general things, so we want to understand which are the lacunae that are felt and how better training programmes can be planned for future preparedness,” Lt Gen Kanitkar explained.
She said an important aspect would be to increase skill-based modules for MBBS students and healthcare workers so as to focus on what the society needs. This will be done through the six regional centres of MUHS located at Pune, Mumbai, Latur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad and Nagpur. For instance, at Nagpur the aim will be to look at tribal health and focus on some community health programme, at Mumbai short courses in dentistry and infectious diseases can be introduced. At Kolhapur, emphasis would be laid on setting up outreach programmes on non-communicable diseases.
“Doctors for tomorrow have to use digital technology. We learned several things online and so we can consolidate those gains made during Covid and make education equitable… This could eventually also help a student in a remote college get updated by enrolling for short online modules,” the VC said. For Lt Gen Kanitkar, though, the need is to focus on post-graduate training at district hospitals so that each patient bed becomes a teaching bed. “Doctors are learning and patients are benefiting with more doctors there,” she said.
Chemistry teacher meets Lt Gen Kanitkar after 44 years, elated on her success
Lt Gen (retd) Madhuri Kanitkar was elated as she met her chemistry teacher Dr Ajay Gon after 44 years on Monday. At a function in which she took charge as the VC, Lt Gen Kanitkar recalled that Dr Gon had distributed laddoos when she was declared national topper in chemistry in Std XI. “It was a small Kendriya Vidyalaya in Lucknow where I studied Std 9, 10 and 11. It was not a proper school building and classes were held across small rooms. I still remember Dr Gon was so thrilled that I was declared a national topper in chemistry that he distributed laddoos,” she recalled. Dr Gon now lives in Nashik and Lt Gen Kanitkar personally requested him to attend the function when she took charge as VC so that she could take his blessings.