A 22-year-old youth who thought he had not cleared the examination of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), now at 60, is the director of the institute.
Meet Dr Jagat Ram, who shares his journey from working in the fields of Pabyana village, in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh, to the director of PGMIER.
Thinking that he has not cleared the entrance examination of PGIMER, he slept under the tree until he was woken up by a senior doctor who said, “We are calling your name for counselling for a long time. Don’t you want to take admission?”
“My father was a small farmer in Pabyana and our earning was not much. So I used to help him in the fields to earn a living and fund studies,” said Dr Jagat Ram, who used to walk seven to eight kilometers to his high school in Rajgarh.
“After scoring good marks in matric class, I went to a teacher with report card and asked which subject I should take. He said, ‘since you have scored well, you can take medical’. So, this is how I ended up in the medical field,” said Dr Jagat Ram.
He completed his MBBS form Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, in 1978.
“I was experienced by the time I passed out from the medical college and I decided to give it a try in PGIMER, instead of doing a government job in Himachal Pradesh,” said Dr Ram with a smile.
“But I was so naïve that I mistook the list of rejected candidates with the ones who have cleared the exam,” he said.
“I thought that I have not been selected and slept under the eucalyptus tree outside the director’s office,” he recalls.
He said that Dr MR Dogra, ophthalmologist, came running to him saying “you are sleeping here, while we are calling your name inside.”
The doctor, who is recognised internationally for his contributions in the field of cataract and refractive surgery, chose the field just because he thought it was a “cleaner” option than gynaecology and surgery.
But it was not easy for him to fund the education. “I used to get around ₹200 from PGIMER and rest my father used to arrange.”
Dr IS Jain and Dr Amod Gupta are the new director’s inspirations.
“In 1993, I got a chance to visit USA for World Health Organisation (WHO) fellowship. That was the turning point in my career. It was an eye-opening experience, which motivated me to work harder and set higher goals.”
In a career spanning 37 years, he has received 24 national and international awards.
“My father still does not know how much I have studied or what all are my achievements. He just knows that I am a doctor, that’s it,” said Dr Jagat Ram.
“When I had joined PGIMER in 1980, I had never thought that I will become the director,” Dr Jagat said.
“I am thankful to those who believed in me and will ensure that I will give my best,” he added.
PATIENT RUSH, PLAGIARISM, ON NEW DIRECTOR’S TO-DO LIST
Dr Jagat Ram talks about the challenges ahead and measures taken by him to solve the long standing problems like patient rush.
Mincing no words, Dr Jagat Ram said he will be a tough task master as and when needed. “If I come across as a humble person, it does not mean that strict actions will not be taken. To take the people along will remain my priority, but action will be taken against those guilty. They will not be spared.
Managing patient rush
At present nearly 10,000 patients visit New OPD every day. The first challenge is how to reduce the waiting line. Now, the focus will be on increasing the online registrations, which at the moment is only 10%. Secondly, the manpower will be mobilised to more crowded areas.
Less referrals from other states
We will coordinate with adjoining states and ask them to refer only those who need tertiary care.
Focus on research
A good ranking in research is very important for the image of a research institute like PGIMER.
Swift action on erring officials
Swift action will be taken in the event of any wrongdoing by any official or others, irrespective of their status. Decision making will be quick. We will take steps to discourage plagiarism and strict rules will be in place.
We will write to different head of departments to assess the need of increase the number of seats in the post graduate courses. Earlier there were plans to start MBBS in Sangrur, but the situation is not the same anymore.