THE FIRST trained paediatric nephrologist of the armed forces, Major Gen Madhuri Kanitkar, has returned to her alma mater Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) as its first woman Dean.
“Being part of the AFMC has taught me a lot. Now, it is time to give back to my alma mater,” said Kanitkar, who was Deputy Director General Armed Forces (Planning and Training), New Delhi, in her previous posting.
She strongly feels there is a need for more colleges like AFMC that can produce doctors and soldiers. “Health care requires disciplined caregivers. Every medical college produces doctors, but here students are trained for three noble professions — soldier, doctor and teacher,” said Kanitkar.
The AFMC sends a minimum of 100 doctors to the armed forces every year. “But there is a requirement for 200-250 such doctors. So, we have proposed increasing the number of undergraduate seats at AFMC from 130 to 150. 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 to expand the pool of well-trained doctors to join the three services.”
Kanitkar added that while she 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 ways 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 — and ensure they are not stressed out. We must take a relook at both parenting and teaching techniques. Communication channels need to be kept open,” she said.
Asked about her priorities, she said: “Getting recognition for Diploma in Pharmacy course is a priority. Also, short term training courses for medical officers in sports medicine will commence from April.”
Kanitkar admitted 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, always told me never to give up. Th
at’s the spirit I want to inculcate in my students here.”