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‘It is the most comprehensive healthcare and lifesciences management programme in India’

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Dr (Prof) Ajit Parulekar, Dean—Healthcare Management, Goa Institute of Management talks about their newly introduced PGDM course in healthcare, its USPs, GIM’s growth strategy and more, in an interaction with Lakshmipriya Nair

GIM has introduced a Healthcare MBA (PGDM) programme. Tell us about its USPs?

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Lakshmipriya Nair

USPs of this programme are: comprehensive healthcare and lifesciences management focus; emphasis on hands-on learning; and strong industry connect. It is the most comprehensive healthcare and lifesciences management programme in the country. All the others, over 100 healthcare management programmes, either focus on hospital administration, pharma management or public health management. We see a convergence happening in the healthcare and lifesciences sector and this is something that we have corroborated with senior healthcare industry leaders. The programme at GIM allows students to get a bird’s eye view of the entire industry and appreciate the interdependence between various parts of this industry. This programme was conceptualised under the guidance of a steering committee comprising senior industry leaders from pharma, medical devices, hospitals, IT/ consulting, public health and senior academicians.

Two unique initiatives that provide high emphasis on hands-on learning are the Know Your Healthcare Provider (KYHP) programme in the first year and the Give Goa Health initiative in the second year. As part of the KYHP initiative, each first year student (in small groups) spends one day every week mentored by faculty in an healthcare environment in Goa. They work on live projects like conducting a time motion study at a hospital registration or OPD, inventory management at a device company, auditing quality systems or understanding manpower planning/allocation. For the KYHP initiative, we have partnered with over 40 healthcare institutions including the Goa Medical College, Siemens Healthcare, Merck, Victor Apollo Hospital, Pfizer, Tulip Diagnostics, Lupin, Manipal Hospital, and the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) – Govt of Goa. As part of the Give Goa Health initiative, our students engage with an NGO working in healthcare in Goa. These include organisations such as Sangath, Voluntary Health Association of Goa, Alcoholic Anonymous, National Institute of Malaria Research and healthcare programmes delivered through PHCs in Goa. The Give Goa Health initiative serves two purposes: to socially sensitise our students and also to give back to the Goan society by way of expertise to healthcare related NGOs, shramdaan, organising healthcare camps and helping raise funds for healthcare initiatives in Goa.

The strong industry connect is done through initiatives like:

  1. Steering committee that advises the curriculum design
  2. KYHP and Give Goa Health initiatives
  3. Summer internship programme
  4. Eminent healthcare industry practitioners who engage with our students through guest lectures, visiting faculty engagements and workshops/ panel discussions.

What kind of response did the course elicit from the students and the industry?

Prior to launching the programme, we conducted an exhaustive study of the best healthcare management programmes across the globe and also undertook a survey of prospective students and employers/recruiters. The response from both prospective students and industry has been very encouraging. Our student body is quite diverse, coming from 17 Indian states and half the students have prior work experience. For the first batch of the programme, we received close to 900 applicants (for 60 seats on the programme). Our students come from varied educational backgrounds including medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, biotechnology, nursing, engineering and also commerce and economics. Many senior industry leaders from organisations like Apollo, Sanofi, Ranbaxy, Accenture, Johnson & Johnson, Aravind eye care, WHO, KPMG, Pfizer, Wockhardt, Ernst & Young and Narayan Hrudayalaya have addressed these students. Leading healthcare, lifesciences, IT, insurance and consulting companies participate in the placement process of this programme. For our first batch, offers for summer internship exceeded the number of students.

Are you planning to introduce any more new courses in the near future?

We are expanding into related areas and have conducted several management development programmes, research projects and consultancy assignments in the healthcare-lifesciences space. The healthcare management dedicated faculty have published numerous books, case studies, journal articles and lay press articles. We have completed consulting/research projects for the Department of Woman & Child Development, Water Resources Development and the Goa Medical College. We have recently successfully bid to conduct the National Family Health Survey for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in four states in India.

What is the growth strategy for GIM in the next five years?

GIM strives to provide quality management education and believes strongly in values-based education. The institute currently offers four long duration programmes: a two-year fulltime PGDM in business management, a part-time PGDM in business management for working executives, a two-year fulltime PGDM in healthcare management and a PhD in management. The institute also offers short duration executive development programmes and consults with several organisations. GIM has two campuses in Goa: a new state-of-the-art 50 acre campus in Sankhali and a city campus at Ribandar (five km from Panaji) housed in a 350 year old neo-gothic heritage building. In the next five years GIM plans to strengthen its faculty by recruiting to a total faculty strength of 70 members and has also embarked on an ambitious star faculty programme to attract globally renowned management faculty to work at GIM.

How does GIM plan to address issues plaguing Indian healthcare education?

Every country in the world is struggling to achieve its healthcare objectives. Most countries are trying to devise and implement region specific Universal Health Coverage plans. Innovation alone seems to be the way forward and this orientation has to come from the classroom. Educational institutions carry a big responsibility in training prospective managers and inculcating an innovation mind-set that challenges existing norms and constraints. At GIM, we have innovation, creativity and entrepreneur-ship as an integral part of the curriculum. We have set-up a creativity and innovation centre and are in the process of setting up an incubation centre.

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