Government Medical College Chandigarh Old Students Association
IN CONVERSATION WITH PROF RAJ BAHADUR
Hemender Singh, '91 batch; Charanjeet Singh, ’99 batch; Divyanshoo Rai Kohli, '03 batch
Prof. Raj Bahadur is the current director principal of the Government Medical College, Chandigarh. He also is a professor and the Head of the department of Orthopedics. We would like to thank him for his time and frank opinions during the interview. Congratulations on being the director, Sir!
1. You have had a long relationship with GMC now. What was the reason for the move to GMC in the first place? Please tell us about your previous appointments too.
Before joining GMC, I have worked at many places. I have held positions at IGMC-Shimla, BHU, JIPMER-Pondicherry, MAMC-New Delhi, Safdarjung-New Delhi. I also served at Belfast, London. I was invited to join the department of Orthopedics at GMC on deputation in 1992. And as everyone knows, I have been associated with GMC since then except for a brief period while I joined as Additional Medical Superintendent at the PGIMER, Chandigarh. I was again invited by the Chandigarh Administration to join the college as its Director. I am a firm believer of destiny and it has, along with sheer hard-work, brought me thus far.
2. You’ve held various positions of responsibility in the most nebulous times in GMC’s history, especially in struggles leading up to recognition by MCI. What were those times like? What do you remember most of those years?
GMCH was bound to get the recognition with the kind of leadership and faculty it had at that time. The times were tough and some of the clauses raised by the MCI at that time seemed unfair and stringent. We worked hard to get the recognition. In hindsight, I feel that the MCI objections spurred us to work harder and improve our standards. Now that we have got the MCI recognition, I feel satisfied on the extra effort we made in the initial years.
3. How have you seen the leadership change over the years? What, if anything, would you have changed in the past years?
GMCH has indeed seen some good leaders as its directors. I particularly would like to appreciate the administrative and managing skills of Prof. V.K. Kak. Some other directors could have performed better during their stints. GMCH is a well-funded child of the Chandigarh administration. I would have loved had the funds been channelized more properly to build the infrastructure. My aim is to emulate, and hopefully even surpass the works done by Prof Kak.
4. What change should we expect in GMC under your leadership? Are there specific areas you are focusing on?
One of the core areas of focus is the stream lining of the 3 major hospitals of Chandigarh- PGIMER, GMSH 16 and GMCH. We have a urologist coming from GMSH and they have made use of surgeons from our side. Our aim is to serve the needs of the city and doing so in an integrated fashion is the way forward. Even in the training of our students and residents, I welcome an integrated approach.
5. In the recent years getting good and experienced faculty has become an issue in all medical institutions across the country. How do you plan to address that?
All I can do is urge the senior faculty to stay with us in the college. Upcoming private medical institutions offer grand salaries for lesser work and those offers often appear lucrative to an underpaid medical faculty. Senior faculty needs to be self-motivated to stay in good institutes like ours for the sake of development of future doctors. They should take a lead from Prof. JD Wig who has honored the institute by joining it after retiring as the Head of the department of Surgery at the PGIMER.
6. Our institute has planted good physicians all across the globe. There has been a major effort by students to appear in foreign medical exams. Do you think our faculty is actually helping the students prepare for these situations? Do you have any plans to ensure that happens?
I particularly recall that when I was a student, my peers and I never had resources to travel abroad or sustain ourselves for a few months before we could work there. Times have changed. A few of the current students of GMC came to me and told that their peers in AIIMS and MAMC often visit United States for clerkships. I found that it would be good for the development of our students. This year, after talking to the concerned authorities, I have allowed students to go and do their clerkships abroad if they can procure those and sustain themselves. This is a major effort that had never occurred in the history of the college. I will also be happy for and will support a formal “student exchange program” between our institution and institutions abroad.
7. Through the research awards instituted by GMCCOSA and KOSHISH we want to promote acumen in clinical and epidemiological research. Do you have any suggestions to help us do this in a better way?
The involvement of students in research and their funding by the alumni is a welcome step. I am aware of such developments and support such a cause whole-heartedly. An ex-colleague of mine currently holds the position of the Director of the ICMR. I will personally talk to him to initiate steps to promote and fund clinical research at GMCH.
8. The alumni of our college are always asking for ways to pay back for the education provided to them. How can we help? Are there any areas we can focus on?
I am glad to hear that alumni of our college think about paying back to the institute. I would particularly ask them to pay back in two ways. Firstly, whenever they come to Chandigarh, I would request them to visit the institute and deliver lectures to share the knowledge that they have gained abroad. Secondly, especially for branches like surgery and radiology, they can demonstrate and teach newer skills and approaches. I assure them of full support from the college authorities. While I was visiting London, I noticed that certain equipment (which may be re-usable) was discarded after using it once. While coming back home, I brought them with me and used them for my patients here. If our alumni can do a similar thing, it would help the patients here and will not strain the hospital budget.
9. This is a question of behalf of all the students of the college. The college is facing the challenge of not having enough post-graduate courses with de-recognition of a few existing courses. How do you plan to address this issue?
We will try and meet MCI’s criterion for keeping the post-graduate courses active. MS course in the department of ENT is a welcome addition since this year. Moreover, within the next year, I have plans to introduce DNB in Internal Medicine, General Surgery and Radio-diagnosis. Post-graduate courses in Microbiology and Transfusion Medicine are also in the pipeline.
10. This year a student from Andhra Pradesh made it to the first year of medical college through the All India entrance exam. He is a Bravery Award winner. His financial concerns need to be addressed for him to continue the education. May we request your support on the matter?
I am aware of the situation and have initiated the process to address it. The college administration would render all the permissible and possible help.
11. Any plans to travel to the US in the near future. We will all love to have you here.
I wish I could have visited US to further my education. I may visit for work or relaxation and would love to meet the alumni settled there.
Thank you for the interview, Sir!
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