THE FIRST trained paediatric nephrologist of the armed forces who single-handedly set up units to monitor kidney ailments in children in Pune and Delhi, Major Gen Madhuri Kanitkar has returned to her alma mater as the first woman Dean of the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC). “Being part of the AFMC has taught me a lot. Now, it is time to give back to my alma mater,” said Maj Gen Kanitkar, who was Deputy Director General Armed Forces (Planning and Training), New Delhi, before she took up her new posting in Pune as AFMC Dean. Brimming with ideas to upgrade medical education, the new Dean strongly feels there is a need for more colleges like the AFMC that can produce doctors and soldiers.
Watch what else is making news:
“Health care requires disciplined caregivers. Every medical college produces doctors, but here students are trained for three noble professions — soldier, doctor and teacher,” said Maj Gen Kanitkar. What, however, has caught attention of the medical fraternity at the armed forces is the challenges to develop human resources within the Armed Forces Medical Services. The AFMC is a premier institution and every year, sends a minimum of 100 doctors to the armed forces.
“But there is a requirement of 200-250 doctors,” Maj Gen Kanitkar said, adding, “To that end, we have proposed increasing the number of undergraduate medical seats at the AFMC from the present 130 to 150. Another option is the feasibility of another medical college. For every post in the armed forces, there are so many applications. So why are our doctors going away to other countries or looking for better opportunities. We need to look at ways and means for increasing the pool of better trained doctors to join the Tri-services,” said Maj Gen Kanitkar, who was involved in standardising post graduate training and making application and counselling process online.
While Maj Gen Kanitkar has held several prestigious appointments, coming back to the AFMC is like “adding life to years and years to life”. “There is a great team here and we will focus on plans to stimulate research among students. Assessment drives learning but we will also train our doctors with skills that are not part of the curriculum — like communication skills — bedside manners and to ensure they are not stressed out. We must take a re-look at both parenting and teaching techniques. Communication channels need to be kept open,” said Maj Gen Kanitkar.
“Getting recognition for Diploma in Pharmacy course from the Pharmacy Council of India is a priority while short-term training courses for medical officers in sports medicine will also commence from April,” Maj Gen Kanitkar said.
This achiever, who has raised the bar at every level and kept a check on students for not asking her enough questions during an interview for their in-house magazine, admits that there were three occasions when she wanted to give it all up. “One is torn between duties and responsibilities as a mother, doctor, Army wife and teacher. But my husband, Lt Gen Rajiv Kanitkar, has always told me never to give up and that’s the spirit I want to inculcate in my students here,” she said.