March 18, 2007

Reverse Brain Drain of Doctors

Many foreign and NRI doctors are now making a beeline for India and wanting to relocate here to gain the India experience. AHS claims it is getting enquiries from foreign doctors in the US and EU who want to visit the facility and then take a final decision on India.

Tehrani had never imagined that one day he would be assisting in setting up a hospital in India. "Initially, I was sceptical, but a couple of trips later, I saw it as a lifetime opportunity. And my mind was made up," he says. Of course, his wife, a doctor herself too saw it as a great opportunity and challenge.

He realised that if he stayed on in the US, he would be doing the same kind of work even after a decade. It didn't challenge him anymore. "There was little room for personal growth. I wanted to do much more than just treating patients," he asserts. He feels India could offer him that challenge. "The sheer number of patients and cases one handles here is in itself a challenge," says Tehrani.

The situation is much the same in other hospitals too. Dr Shabnam Singh who handles physician recruitment at Max Healthcare, says,"We get many enquiries from foreign doctors who are interested in coming to India. In fact, one of our ads for a surgeon had 20% non-Indian applicants." In fact, in the last three months, a senior NRI dentist, a plastic surgeon and a cardio-vascular surgeon have joined the hospital.

This reverse brain-drain began in the the last five years when many NRI doctors came back by choice. Singh says 10% doctors at Max Healthcare are such cases. For decades, India had watched many of its best-educated doctors shift abroad in search of degrees and mega bucks, never to come back. But now, with talent returning to India, the implications for a developing country like ours is potentially huge.

Dr Vivek Raj, a gastroenterologist with Max Healthcare, says doctors return for both personal and professional reasons. He himself came back in June to join Max after spending 18 years in the US. And despite doing quite well at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, he began to feel bored like Tehrani. "For the last three years, I wanted to come back as I couldn't imagine doing the same thing for years together. Also, I wanted to translate what I had learnt abroad here."

Though there are the usual explanations about wanting to return to their roots, be close to aging parents and wanting kids to imbibe Indian values, there are other reasons for the prodigals returning. Read the rest of the Story on Times of India Website

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