Government Medical College Chandigarh Old Students Association
IN CONVERSATION WITH PROF CS GAUTAM
Anuj Sharma, '07 batch
Dr. C.S. Gautam is Professor and the Head of the Department of Pharmacology. He also is the Director of Security Services at GMCH. Among one of the most popular teachers, Dr Gautam shares his views on GMCH and a variety of other issues.
Thank you for agreeing for this talk. Tell us about yourself. What prompted you to join GMCH?
My training was at Amritsar Medical College and PGI. I joined PGI in 1978 for my post graduation and doctorate. Till 1992 I was a Senior Research Officer after which I joined as an Associate Professor in in MGM Medical College, New Bombay. Somehow I never liked the city and moreover Prof. J.S.Chopra, the founder director principal of our college, wanted me to be the part of the faculty. So I was interviewed in Jan 93 after which I joined the institute as a reader in the Department of Pharmacology on ad-hoc basis. In this way I have associated with the college right from the first batch.
You were among the very early teachers to come here. How was it then compared to now?
I feel that the students of the starting batch were more dedicated towards their field. They were more attentive and focused towards their goal in life. But today with the advent of newer technology and ever increasing levels of awareness the horizons have broadened and there has been an increase in the number of options and opportunities available to the students. Second aspect is that even batch to batch variations are evident. Some batches are more focused than others. So it really depends upon ones aim in life, how well is one brought up, lure for money and finally how quickly one wants to settle down in life. Regarding faculty, well during the initial years of the college when the faculty was small there was greater cohesiveness between each other. With passing time this cohesiveness has certainly diminished. Still, there is commendable level of coordination between all faculties for the service of this institute.
You play a very active role in managing the extra-curricular activities of the students-PLEXUS, EUPHORIA, GLIMPSE...Is it a throw-back to your own college days? Were you active in these areas back then too?
As a student I was very much into academics. In fact the field of medicine deserves the ultimate level of zeal and dedication. But the mantra for success in medicine is to have a hobby parallel to ones profession. This in fact is the way you create a vent for your stress and tension. So I feel the need to inculcate and encourage my students to actively participate in various co-curricular events so as to act as a stress buster. Here I also don’t forget to act as a mentor for my students and develop that temperament needed for a successful life.
Doctors leaving for USA or becoming bureaucrats has been a much debated topic in the college fests. What is your take on this?
Today there is definitely a trend amongst students to clear the USMLE and settle abroad. This is certainly disappointing. In fact with the best brains going out there cannot be good atmosphere created which can contribute to nation’s development and progress. Also those who go abroad for further studies seldom feel the need to come back and change the atmosphere. I was offered jobs abroad on multiple occasions, which I felt was no mistake in denying because imparting knowledge and helping students become good doctors is what defines a good teacher. There should be an endless passion inside. Another aspect seen is the increasing desire for a red light top career. Here again, as to how will they serve and payback to their parent profession is under serious question.
There was a very heavy demand for getting your interview. Many of your students still remember your one liner including this famous one that “whenever in emergency, start low and go slow”. Students who have passed out a decade ago still want to hear from you. What you think is the reason for that?
I think to be a good teacher you need to have that intrinsic quest to make students aware, with all the updates and recent advents in the ever growing field of pharmacology. I add on to things as and when the need arises. Also what I ensure is punctuality and dedication in imparting knowledge to my students. I am a strict academician inside the class but at the same time I am there for my students for all kind of help and protection outside the lecture theatre. They are like my own kids to me!
Any particularly memorable incident that you want to share with us!
When I joined PGI for my post-graduation I failed in my first monthly assessment test. I scored 9/100. There was another girl who scored 34/100. Mr. Ranjit Rai Chaudhry, the then director and head of department of pharmacology, called her first and asked if she wanted to continue in PGI and pursue her post graduation. She left weeping. Next was my turn and I was asked the same question which I replied that sir under your able guidance I will surely do wonders in the subject. From that night onwards, I used to sit late till 2 in the morning in the library and would make sure that I had a comprehensive margin of 10-15 marks more than the second person in every monthly exam. This was really an eye opener for me.
Where do you see GMCH going from here in the next few years?
GMCH is progressing very well. The first two directors have been the biggest contributors in the development of the institute. In fact Dr. Kak has been instrumental in bringing the college on the map of medical colleges in India. Although we have had ups and downs, our committed faculty under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Raj Bahadur has put the college among the top 14 medical colleges of India. I can see in him the exact replica of Dr Kak. Also the students of our college are better than any other renowned medical colleges in India, be it AIIMS, MAMC or any others. Also for the good working of the institute I feel that politics should be criticized and shunned by all.
How do you see students vis-a-vis pharmacology? Do you feel the need to change the curriculum or method of teaching it?
Good question! Well one should try for the ideal mixture of all the recommendations laid down by the various medical bodies. The curriculum should match to the need of pharmacology needed by students as their base for their subsequent career in medicine. One should not be an Olympian in prescribing newer drugs. There are a lot of examples where drugs banned in developed countries are being used indiscriminately and with irrational combinations in developing countries like ours. The quality of a good doctor lies in the art of his prescription. Pharmacology is a highly volatile subject. What I try are innovative techniques with every batch to make my subject more interesting.
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