Interview by Yash Panchal



Dr. Naveen Kumar. P. is presently working as the Professor & HoD, Department of Hospital Administration in Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, Karnataka. His educational qualifications include MBBS from S.V. Medical College, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, and MD in Administration from Kasturba Medical College, Manipal. He has worked in Medical College & Research Hospitals, Educational & Research Institutions, and Insurance Sector as well.

He holds a rich cumulative Professional & Teaching Experience of more than 15 years. He has subject expertise in areas like Health insurance, Social Insurance, Microinsurance, Health Policy, etc. Dr. Kumar has been a recognized Ph.D. guide under Manipal University for Healthcare & Hospital Management. He was Examiner for University examinations for four successive batches of MHA students.

Dr. Kumar has presented his papers in various International Conferences. To his credit, Dr. Kumar has a number of publications in reputed journals as well. He has done a good number of conference presentations and has been involved in additional professional and community activities too. He is a Life Member of Indian Medical Association, Research Foundation of Health & Hospital Administrators, Academy of Hospital Administration and Indian Public Health Association.

As far as achievements go, Dr. Kumar was awarded Best Employee Award in ING Vysya Life Insurance for the year 2006. He got Citation on Faculty Development Program on “Teaching Entrepreneurship”, sponsored by AICTE, India – Sep’ 2011 and “Intellectual Property Rights”, sponsored by Department of Science & Technology, India – Feb’ 2012. He received Citation from Pro-Chancellor of Manipal University for contribution in Research by faculty on Annual Day Celebrations of KMC, April 2014.

Dr. Naveen Kumar’s experience in the education sector and what makes it the best industry to work in

I was one of the best outgoing students during my school days and college days. I got inspired by medical college due to my Professors in Anatomy, Physiology and Medicine subjects especially. During School days, the teachers teaching Biology, Chemistry inspired me in the way they perceived Science and the way they taught made me more interested in the subjects.

Hence, I grew up with an ideology that I should inspire others and education is the best field to do so.

The function of an educationist is to teach one to think intensively and critically

The ultimate goal of Education for everyone is to gain intelligence and character. I imbibed all that from my parents & teachers and entered this field. My experiences at IHMR, Bangalore, helped me to catapult as Education Administrator.

The importance of Hospital Administration for Medical students

Modern-day hospitals are capital-intensive and labor-intensive organizations. Hospital Managers have to oversee a variety of departments like clinical, pre-clinical, laboratories, operation theaters, ICUs, Nursing services, Support services, Quality department, Medical Audits, Legal issues, and ethical issues. A specialist is required to handle all these departments to achieve the organizations’ goals. A medical graduate with a flair towards Management of this multi-specialty and multi-tasked team is the right choice for this job. In a day, if a Doctor can see 50-80 patients, a manager can handle 100 clients in his office and provide solutions to their problems. When decisions are made which might give a mission & direction to that hospital, that is the ultimate job satisfaction to a person.

Philosophy of leadership and leadership style

A Leader should be Confident, Communicative, Co-operative

All these attributes make a good Leader and fit into my Leadership style. Hospital Administration program is one where we have to make Physicians into Physician Managers, where a clinical doctor is getting morphed into a Clinical Manager. Initially, when they come into the program, in the first semester, they would generally be unaware of subjects, skills, and functions of a future manager. I guide them to understand all these. In the second semester, they might feel a gap between the theory and practice, that’s when I pitch in again and share my corporate companies’ prior experience and guide them to be on track. By the final year, they would be prepared to go out and lead the Operations teams or Quality management teams in hospitals. 

Dr. Kumar on how his experience as the Associate Professor & Dean of Institute of Health Management Research, Bangalore helped in Manipal Academy of Higher Education

I have seen the process of part-time one-year PG Diploma program go through the initial grind and get matured to a 2-year, full-time, academic Program. We started with 15 seats and in two years’ time, we had 60 students taking the full bench of seats that were available. We created a hybrid program where during the first year all students will go through common courses and in the second year, they can opt for hospital or public health management. We had to find more faculty to cover all subjects separately for third & fourth semesters. That was quite challenging. We had to create rosters for both the years, the faculty had to set the pedagogy for each subject, identifying in line with the learning objectives of the subject.

Two internal examinations had to be conducted, papers evaluated on time and papers shown to students, then the final marks were handed over to the academic secretary office, who had to maintain records for next two years. A Class representative was elected for each batch, who will act as liaison with Dean and the students. The fourth-semester students were identified with a Placement Committee with one faculty and marketing manager playing the lead. There were four committees running with Dean as the Chairperson – Academic & Examination Committee, Student Counseling Committee, Placement Committee, and Admissions Committee. We conducted alumni get together twice on the campus.

Significant challenges faced as the Professor & HOD of Kasturba Medical College

Identifying thesis or dissertation topics to 3 MD students per year and 30+ MHA (Master of Hospital Administration) students is a daunting task. And I have to find guides for all these students. I had to manage the faculty-student ratio, else the product doesn’t come out well. This is the first book that will be written by the student under his/her name. So, they need to understand any mistake performed is documented forever. I had to inspire them to pick up contemporary topics, identify a research problem in the hospital, the latest research tool, help them in finding primary data & secondary data. During the course of 3 years, they have to do presentations and all mentors have to come and justify any mishaps in the study course.

The curriculum of School of Public Health

We have an academic senate which approves the curriculum. We bring in external experts from other Universities, who advise us if any changes are required. We have tie-ups with universities abroad for other programs, Alabama, Maastricht, McMaster, Flinders, etc. We have faculty visiting us from these Universities, who constantly provide us with feedback on the curriculum governance. We have more than 2000-bed medical college teaching hospital where the Administration of the college and hospital allow full access to our students to perform the studies.

I think Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) is the only place that gives students of MHA this kind of platform through the constituent hospitals, as constantly vouched by our alumni. Every week, there will be two presentations by students on these hospital areas to the faculty. The faculty visit the hospital during the postings and guide the students to conduct business case studies, to improve the operations of the hospital. My students have been part of implementing healthcare apps to ease the waiting time for patients, health kiosks, were part of the team which bagged Guinness Book of World Records title of October 2017 on Hand hygiene awareness, where 3000+ hands came together in one day to become aware of best hand washing practices in a hospital environment, to reduce hospital-acquired infections rate in hospital.

The growth of students through placement opportunities available at Kasturba Medical College

We form Placement Committee with 3-4 outgoing batch students, faculty coordinator and placement directorate of the university. Placement Directorate at MAHE is very active and supportive. 20% of students get jobs in Manipal group of hospitals, 50% get absorbed in various corporate & private hospitals, 10% pursue further studies in abroad or Ph.D., 20% start their own businesses and become healthcare entrepreneurs.

All other faculty will provide inputs to the Placement Committee in case of any prospective recruiters. We conduct a placement week, wherein 4-5 companies visit the campus and conduct interviews. We are approaching many hospitals to take our students as trainees in their fourth semester. This will help us a lot in the coming years.

Read more about the placement opportunities at Kasturba Medical College here.

Changes noticed in the Medical & Hospital Administration Sector over the past few years and skill set required by a corporate in a student

A decade or two back, a student from MHA or MD would end up invariably in day-to-day operations management of a hospital. But, this industry has been evolving at a pace faster than time. Healthcare IT, KPOs have thrown huge opportunities for hospital domain experts. Auditing firms have taken up healthcare spending audits of government projects, insurance audits, new hospital project audits. They all require students to develop characters or attributes suitable to that industry.

For example, to go into Operations management of a hospital, you have to be good at Quality management. For IT & KPO jobs, the students have to master data analytics, data mining. For students to become experts in medico-legal cases handling, they should be good at communication with client management. To briefly conclude, doing MD or MHA earlier, you were a jack of all trades, master of none. But, now, you have to master at least one specialized work area to become a jack of all trades. The sky is the limit.

Dr. Kumar’s relation with the students being an education administrator

Generally, the first-year students will be in norming and forming a stage of group dynamics. So, we take ice-breaking sessions in the first week they arrive at college. One senior student will be advised to guide two Junior students. I teach 4 days a week. During those days, I provide pedagogy in advance, so that students come prepared to classes. Every Saturday, I keep my cabin open in the forenoon, for students to come and discuss their academic problems. During this session, the students staying in hostels can relate any issues in hostels.

For example, two students sharing one room, might not be going well together. They will come and disclose expecting me to provide a remedy. I take decisions on this and guide those students. I encourage every semester’s new students to emerge as top 3 ranks in different subjects. Manipal Academy encourages all faculty to be pro-active in solving students’ problems. The faculty is encouraged to be mentors to foreign students and Indian students. Faculty will be identified as Counselors in hostels.

Read about the faculty at Kasturba Medical College here.

A continually improving school environment

Learning Curve should be the ideology of any school.

There should be continual improvement in knowledge, attitude, and skills of students every year

There should be case studies given to students which will match their knowledge and test their skills year after year. The first year student should be groomed, the second-year student should be encouraged to ask questions, the third-year student should solve real-time hospital domain problems. For example, inventory turnover ratio should be monitored and solutions should be given by Final year student. Questioning a group of students should not be demoralizing and should not be laughably irrelevant. The goal of questions should be to stretch their abilities. Manipal Academy insists all the constituent institutions provide a learning organization culture. There are student grievance committees, hostel committees, food committees, academic committees, where student leaders are active members.

Top qualities that an aspiring Medical and Hospital Administration student must possess

  1. Good at academics.
  2. Good at networking.
  3. Oral & Written Communication skills.
  4. Extrovert.
  5. Dynamic.  

Goals for Kasturba Medical College

Enhancing international collaborations for the program, Dual degree with a foreign university, Summer Immersion programs for MHA in abroad and publishing high-value research papers.

Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students

Being successful often means learning from those who have already achieved their goals. Having a mentor is an amazing blessing to a budding manager, hence, find one person among alumni and get guided well. Keep updating your progress to your mentor during your academic course. Brag about your achievements. Applications will be available online every year from January to June. Visit Manipal Academy of Higher Education website and you will get all the information for applying and entering this wonderful University town in Coastal Karnataka.