Healthcare never fails to be in the news, be it for being perceived as expensive or for being seen as a lucrative industry, which is recession-proof. It's no lie that healthcare has been taking giant strides without being much affected by the business cycles unlike other sectors of economy, has been generating demand for healthcare professionals more than ever which has been witnessing steep growth.
The booming industry has been appealing for many wanting to pursue a career in the industry for all of its perks that make it a high-earning sector and appealing to everyone's social conscience. This thriving industry has a lot of opportunities other than as a medical doctor and even pharmacists, lab technicians, dentists, physiotherapists, nuclear medicine technologists.
Healthcare in India
Healthcare in India, just like in any other developing countries, is growing rapidly and has become one of the largest sectors in terms of revenue generation and employment. Yet, the recent tragedies like that in a Gorakhpur hospital (UP) when many children died for want of oxygen had brought to the fore the state of India's healthcare, and also there have been other areas of concern like the closing down of nursing colleges in Kerala.
However, taking into consideration the current challenges, which the healthcare sector is confronted in relation to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aim to achieve Universal Health Coverage and provide access to safe and affordable medicines and vaccines for all by 2030.
Supporting R&D for vaccines is an essential part of this process as well where R&D spend on complex drugs were about Rs 8,500 crore in 2015-16. Many other programmes for achieving Universal Health Coverage provide a golden opportunity for careers for trained health managers.
The ailing healthcare sector in India definitely needs a structural approach from the government to tackle the issues, but the professionals can do their bit to upgrade their career to escape the rut and frustration
The Teal Trouble
There has been significant growth in the overall healthcare sector in the country, with the growth expected to sustain a CAGR of 16.5 per cent over 2008-2020, thus growing from about $170 billion to $280 billion by 2020. But, the growth has not been uniform as the division of the healthcare sector into urban and rural sectors has brought to the fore the challenges facing the healthcare industry.
The bigï¿½money tag industry is not universally applicable to everyone. The images of a few high-flying surgeons are held in awe by all, while the struggling ones go unnoticed. Despite the tremendous growth of the sector, the scenario hasn't changed much for many of the professionals like nurses, lab technicians and dentists.
Dentists, who today number over 100,000 in India and with the ratio of dentists to patients being about 1:10,000, they have very few vacancies in hospitals in the government sector and the distribution of dentists between urban and rural areas is highly skewed.
Similarly, even in the nursing industry, where nurses number over 1.4 million in India, many are opting to go abroad than stay in India to practice due to the poor remuneration they get here. Now, with many nursing institutes facing closure (of the total of about 700 colleges) and many not being able to get accreditations, the future looks shaky for many of the professionals.
The Way Out
The ailing healthcare sector in India definitely needs a structural approach from the government to tackle the issues, but the professionals can do their bit to upgrade their career to escape the rut and frustration. However, the most apt option for such professionals who are seeking a change is to become a 'Healthcare Manager'. Even the degree pursued to become one is not of an extended duration and this could be termed crucial for a speedy elevation up the ranks in one's career.
Furthermore, how can we forget the added advantage for dentists, lab technicians, physiotherapists and nurses who have deeper understanding of the medical field and are capable of empathy towards patient? They would be able to best fit as healthcare managers and contribute to achieving efficiencies, streamlining care processes and economic value.
Why Healthcare Management?
This is definitely a career booster which pays well. The usual complaints from nurses and lab technicians are that they are not paid well. This could be a head turner, which can upgrade your career.
Who wouldn't want to be respected? Let that thought just not hinder your growth but push to take up a stand. Healthcare executives are highly-respected in the community, and they play a vital role in maintaining cordial relations between doctors and patients, reassuring patient's families as well as managing facilities and so on.
When somebody asks you, where you see yourself in 5 or 10 years, it cannot be the same place you are in now. Well, then this is your call! This could be your ladder to success in a career which can expose you to numerous opportunities you may not have dreamt of even.
Hence, do not let confusion deter you when it comes to career growth. No doubt being a nurse or a lab technician is as noble as any other healthcare profession, but the stagnant careers are a deterrent to continue in these fields.
Dr. Usha Manjunath
A healthcare management academician, Dr. Usha Manjunath is presently the Director at IIHMR-Bangalore. Her experience includes teaching, training & capacity building, entrepreneurship, social development work including healthcare management. She has 31 years of experience, 13 years in Speech and Hearing and rest as Management Faculty with behavioural science focus.