Good students can keep the teacher more informative and up-to-date in the subject – Dr Rohit V Bhatt, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Medical College, Baroda.

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Dr KK Aggarwal, Editor in Chief eMedinewS and IMA News in conversation with Dr Rohit V Bhatt, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Medical College, Baroda.

Dr Rohit V Bhatt has been honored with Dr BC Roy National Award for the year 2008 under the category of ‘Eminent Medical Teacher’.

How does it feel being conferred one of the most prestigious awards in the medical field?

I feel happy and honored to receive the prestigious BC Roy Award. I am also happy that my merit is recognized. It gives impetus to do better in teaching. Teaching keeps you on guard about latest updates in your specialty. All teachers should have love for teaching and their students. A good teacher should also remain a lifelong student to learn and innovate new ideas. Recognition of merit acts as a great stimulant to do better.

Tell us about your journey so far.

I started my teaching career in Ahmadabad and then shifted to Medical College, Baroda till my retirement. I come from a family of teachers and though less lucrative, I made teaching my life mission. I feel balance of gratitude from students and colleagues is more satisfying and rewarding than balance in the bank. I had the privilege to be the president of Federation of Obst Gyne Societies of India (FOGSI), National Association of Reproductive and Child health (NARCHI) and Indian Society of Perinatology and Reproductive Biology (ISOPARB). I was the chairperson of Indian College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ICOG) and Indian college of Maternal and Child health (ICMCH). I have also been vice-president of Asia Oceania Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AOFOG) and held the post of chairman of ‘Maternal Health Committee of FOGSI and AOFOG. I had the pleasure to be a consultant to WHO, The Population Council and Population Services International. I was director for Training doctors in Laparoscopy for John Hopkins Program International in gynec and obstetrics (JHPIGO). I have delivered several orations in India and overseas. My love for teaching continued even after my retirement and I visit my dept. to teach postgraduates.

What were the early challenges faced by you in your career? How did you manage to overcome them?
I joined as full time teacher in the medical college and was the first full-time teacher. Others were visiting honorary teachers. After initial phase of conflicts, I could establish myself as a good teacher, administrator and supportive to my students. I realized that confrontation does not help. What is required is the spirit of goodwill and cooperative frame of mind… I succeeded in establishing harmonious relations with honorary staff. The teachers had more interest in patient care and less on teaching. I succeeded in establishing an academic atmosphere amongst the students and teachers by holding journal club meetings, periodic department meeting about teaching evaluation and guidance to students. The students talked about their dissertation and got sound advice from staff members. I involved the postgraduates and residents in clinical research. I find they perform better when they are involved in research.
Tell us about your family. How important has been the role of your family in your journey?
I come from family of teachers, lawyers and judges. I was the first doctor in my family. My parents had a great influence on my academic career. My father quoted William Osler’s comment on a good teacher. The comment says, “A good teacher must be physically exhausted but mentally exhilarated at the end of the day.” I have tried to follow Osler’s saying.
I was the youngest in my family and received great support from my brothers and sister. After my marriage, my wife played a vital role in my career. She looked after home management and I concentrated on academics. She tolerated my absence when I took extra classes for my students or travelled out of station to deliver guest lecture or oration. I attribute my academic success to my wife’s sacrifices. My only son is very considerate and he too accepted my absence from home. He also followed my footsteps and has preferred to be a teacher
What would be your message to the community?
I feel the relation between doctors and the community are not very healthy. Doctor- patient relationship should be cordial. There may be some fault on either side. The number of litigations is on the increase. Lure for money and pressure of work has affected healthy doctor-patient relationship. Patient and the relatives also need to understand the disease process and it is not always the fault of the doctor. I feel there is a need for more dialogue between doctors and the community to restore good will and confidence. Doctors should involve the patient and the relatives in decision making process and must explain about the disease process. The medical curriculum should cover communication skills and doctor-patient relationship
Given a chance, what changes would you like to bring about in health policies?
The present curriculum is too didactic and less practical. Increasing number of students in the colleges have diluted practical teaching. There should be more bedside teaching and should encourage student participation. Didactic lectures should be reduced. In many teaching hospitals, there is not enough material for clinical teaching Teacher-student ratio is not appropriate. Most teachers are devoted to work. But unfortunately, there are some teachers who hardly teach. There should be a mechanism to monitor teaching programs. The teachers must spend more time for the students. The medical curriculum should include exposure to behavioral science and human relations.
What advice would you give to youngsters?
Though money and a decent life is the wish of all, I would suggest that one can also lead a decent life with modest means. Students must develop love for the subject and keep eyes open to learn the nuances in medicine. Good students can keep the teacher more informative and up-to-date in the subject. The students need to be taught what good doctor-patient relationship is. They must be taught how to avoid confrontation with the patients and their relatives.