The recent pandemic highlighted the need for more doctors in India, like never before. Hospitals were full, corridors were lined with patients, health workers were overworked and doctors were working round the clock and several had not been home for days for months. These times led us to rethink the number of doctors in the country.
However, as a medico and a woman, I noticed a few disparities too. While the number of women health workers is more across the world, the number of women doctors, especially specialized doctors is dismally low. The question that we need to ask ourselves as a society is why is it low? And how can we raise this number?
To cite a few data I can share that on average, the share of female doctors who practice medicine is as low as 17%, though we see so many girls joining the medical colleges.
In early 2020, Dr S. B. Mujumdar the Founder of Symbiosis, much inspired by the film ‘Anandi Gopal’ (on the first woman physician of India) envisioned the Symbiosis Medical College for Women (SMCW). As I have always given priority to realizing my father’s dream, I took it up as a mission. Within a year we established the Symbiosis Medical College for Women and a 900 bed fully functional hospital – the Symbiosis University Hospital & Research Centre.
A facilitator in the growth and empowerment of women, Symbiosis has always sought opportunities to help women find their feet in society. Whether it is initiatives like organizing a conference to help women entrepreneurs or just believing in the core abilities of women and appointing them in leadership positions, Symbiosis much like its Founder Dr S. B. Mujumdar believes in the ethos, determination, and ideals that are brought in by women. The first batch of 150 girl students at SMCW boasts of some of the best scorers in the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET). Therefore it is hardly surprising that in such a short period SMCW has emerged to be one of the best medical colleges in the country. The five most meritorious students are also given 100% scholarships for all the years of their study at SMCW. This is true empowerment for women!
At SMCW the students are gaining holistic and multi-disciplinary education as they interact with and learn from students of other disciplines too. In their bid to contribute to the ailing patients in the neighbouring villages these young ladies are even learning Marathi so that they are able to understand their patients’ problems. The fully residential college has become a second home to the students and very often they also interact with celebrities and dignitaries who come to the campus. In fact, the celebrities are also astonished to see that would be doctors have knowledge of films, food and technology among many others. I won’t deny that this always brings a smile to my lips as the world perceives us, doctors, to be bookworms, but we can be movie buffs too!
In the coming years, I hope to see many meritorious students turn into empathetic doctors through the portals of SMCW. I am sure that with the astute multi-tasking abilities that they are gaining at SMCW they will be able to strike the perfect balance between their personal and professional life.