Prof. Shankar Das, MA, MSc, MPhil, PhD is the Director of IIHMR in New Delhi. He was Professor and founding Chair of the Centre for Health Policy Planning and Management (CHPPM) at the School of Health Systems Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. Between 2007 and 2014 as the first Chair he provided academic leadership to the centre and nurtured it to become a centre of excellence. He has over three decades of experience as a teacher, trainer, researcher and human resources development practitioner in the field of public health and health management. His professional skills mainly include public health, primary health care, applied research, health promotion and professional education; he has extensive experience of collaborating and working at the highest level in government, the public sector and academic research institutions at regional, national and international levels. Prof. Das has published widely in reputed peer reviewed journals and books on diverse areas such as public health, mental health, sustainable development, wellbeing and prosperity.The focus of his work has been on evidence-informed policy and practice across the spectrum of public health issues and strategies. More recently, he has successfully led major funded projects for the World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, and Ford Foundation, Asian Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, LSE-UK, European Commission, Ministry of Health in India, Indian Council of Medical Research and Population Foundation of India.
The impact on the education sector has been significant with the disruption of academic schedules at campuses of institutions
The unprecedented situation owing to COVID-19 pandemic has caused large scale disruptions in all spheres of lives of all individuals from all strata of society and every country affected by Corona pandemic is struggling to control it. We at the IIHMR-Delhi have been meticulously following all the safety and organizational guidelines issued by the Government. While I discuss our own institute, the unplanned transition has only marginally affected the scheduled plans for completing teaching courses and internship training within the academic year.
We continue to function almost uninterrupted online; the entire educational fraternity has woken up to the new way of working, strategizing, deliberating through online meetings and gearing up to challenges of taking admission procedure online, starting teaching learning online, maintaining the same quality standards. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Today’s teachers needed to be trained in the virtual classroom technologies for connecting with their students to conduct online classes and we started working from the very beginning as we were anticipating prolonged disruptions due to the crisis.
Today, our students are brought up in a digital environment bestowed with laptop, tablet, mobile, smart devices and other technologies. They love to learn via audio-visual communication modes like YouTube videos, PPTs, and smart classes with high concentration. Our faculty has been extremely enterprising in these times and prepared their teaching modules in health management, hospital management and healthcare information technology in a way that could be effectively delivered online. We have collaborated with an extremely interactive and student friendly online classroom software by Microsoft which is called TEAMS. We have integrated all aspects of learning within the platform and classes and assessments are running smoothly.
Though this year has been challenging for us, we have received adequate number of admissions from the best eligible students
New admission to a professional institute usually brings about a lot of stress among young students, especially to those aspiring to build a career. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to influence lives of all in the foreseeable future, it has also influenced our admissions landscape. At the moment, most college campuses are closed and most of the faculty members are working from home. However, we have strategized to better assist our prospective students; we have introduced student counselling programmes, flexible fee deposit options, need-cum-merit financial aid/ scholarships, assistance in obtaining bank loans, introduced COVID-19 Relief Scholarship if a student’s parent(s) lost their jobs etc. Our admissions are not actually affected much as the IIHMR Delhi has carved out a niche for itself through its cutting-edge curriculum, infrastructure facilities, accomplished multi-disciplinary faculty and an institute of repute in the field of Health and Hospital Management in the country. Though this year has been challenging for us, there is no significant difference in competitive application of students and intake rate, we have received adequate number of admissions from the best eligible students.
As a strategic thinker, one can analyse the market and identify opportunities to stimulate growth by introducing required programmes
It is a great privilege and an honour to be associated with this premier and reputed institute as the Director. Periodically, I review strategies to identify vulnerabilities, strengths, opportunities and under-performing areas and address them, whilst bearing in mind the various stakeholders’ best interests. As a strategic thinker, one can analyse the market and identify opportunities to stimulate growth by introducing required programmes. As a Director, I believe communicating operational strategies and objectives are important, this could be carried out by explaining and monitoring by providing key performance indicators to faculty and staff. At the same time, we have mechanisms in place to tackle underachievement by providing feedback, support and further training when necessary. Being the head of the institute, I need to take charge of every quarter of the functioning of the institute. The online meetings with faculty, staff and students has facilitated us to remain connected and in guiding them towards attainment of common goals. I have made it a point to remain present in the office with minimal staff following governmental safety guidelines to see that the spirit of the work environment is not dampened. I ensure my support to all my faculty and staff by working with them and supporting them in all possible ways that I possibly can to ensure quality for our students even amid this pandemic.
We ensured to come up with innovative techniques and ideas amid the pandemic for a smooth functioning of classes
We have been offering various skill based courses, organizing a series of webinars on most pertinent COVID-19 related areas of health management, public health and hospital management.
So far we have reached out to approximately 27,000 audiences comprising a diverse group of students, health professionals, educators, policy makers, researchers and the general public. As part of our Digital Education and Learning Innovation we launched Management Development Programmes (MDP) having various thematic areas such as - a) Hospital Administration Practice during COVID-19, b) Role of Healthcare Quality Standards during COVID-19, c) Ensuring Hospital Supplies During Pandemics for ESIC Hospitals, d) Managing Conflict and Teamwork during Pandemic for Healthy work Environment, e) Management of Health Services During COVID-19 for Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bangladesh etc. In accordance with the advisory of the Ministry of Human Resources Development, GoI, we have launched various COVID-19 related to Mental Health, psychosocial and well-being support programs for the students during and after the pandemic, the same services are also made available to alumni and general public alike. During the national lockdown, we are offering free online psychosocial counselling to address various concerns and anxieties of the students. Psychosocial Counselling is offered along with freely available guidance and information on COVID-19, Career and mental health concerns.
Campus placement is a significant aspect of our professional courses
We have numerous reputed organizations/companies coming to our institute campus, conducting interviews, and recruiting our students. The Campus Placement Cell is largely student driven activity at the IIHMR- Delhi. However, to maintain balance and quality it is supervised by some dynamic faculty coordinators; the campus placements are arranged by our institute. We should be definitely proud of our fantastic success of having a 99 percent placement rate with an average package of Rs. 9 Lakhs and our highest package was Rs. 14.5 Lakhs.
I often make sure that my daily actions and decision-making are based on professional values and behaviours
I allow my team to work independently to self-actualize their optimal potential. I focus on high-level matters rather than managing the day-to-day operations of the teams. When leading a team, consistency is a key factor of a leader, so at times one may want team input and at times one intends to work independently so the team members know what to expect from the leader. I establish my goals as a leader before embarking on my goal. I often make sure that my daily actions and decision-making are based on professional values and behaviours which inspire respect. But some may attribute qualities like effective, strategic or organised for an effective leader, but whatever it may be, connotations of a leader can have an exponential impact on organizational performance.
It is a matter of great privilege to be in the midst likeminded people who are intrinsically motivated and have shared goals of academic excellence. My leadership style involves democratic style by involving active participation of all team members while making critical decisions. I have open channels of communication and encourage my employees to speak their mind so that they are led into a decision and not forced into it.
There is an increase in lack of proficient and well-trained workforce in the healthcare environment in many regions around the globe
The most essential purpose of PG healthcare professional education is to offer high-quality continuous education and training to leverage excellence in healthcare performance. Education doesn’t come to an end once qualified health workers are in the middle of their professional career. The healthcare industry is constantly evolving; best technologies considered in practice today can change significantly in just the span of a decade.
As IIHMR Delhi emerges from its growing phase to a more mature professional teaching and research institute, the institute has the opportunity to ensure a diverse range of academic, management and professional support functions that are associated with existing and future campus directions. Most importantly, we need a rich diverse environment of educational institutes and policy makers that collaborate and support in their work, safeguard higher education’s exceptionally significant role as a trusted source of knowledge, education, and freedom of inquiry.
The healthcare industry is demonstrating high growth rates in the country, some estimates healthcare and social care sector will grow many fold by 2022, adding five million jobs. Therefore, the main critical challenge remains filling these vacancies with the highly trained and motivated workforce that the healthcare sector is yearning for.
Our graduates are well-matched for the ever-changing health care sector and evolving social milieu
For an extremely long time IIHMR-Delhi has emerged as an institute of repute both nationally and globally for producing socially conscious, skilled and vibrant top-class health care management professionals. According to us “Best Practice” means what really works in a particular situation or environment, so best practice or scientifically based practices are often driven by our support of research. At the same time, we are also conscious that a particular practice that has worked for someone within a given set of variables may or may not yield the same results across different industrial environments. Most significantly, we at IIHMR Delhi are conscious about the higher learning outcome of our cutting edge curriculum, hence we are constructively and constantly engaged with the eminent experts from the field practice that makes our professional education in health care as one of most sought after in the country.
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We believe competitiveness raises several advantages that creates superior value creation, performance effects and institutional growth
Today the value we created has manifested in our survival in the competitive world. At present, the health care job market is vibrant but highly competitive, hence, unless we prepare efficient healthcare professionals there are poor chances that we stand out from the crowd. To survive, we often strive to raise the standards of our students in such a way that they confidently make a place in the industry. We focus on the overall wellbeing of our students. While we strive equally for their best placements we also ingrain values of perseverance and adaptability. It is imperative to enable and guide students to take on challenges, to deal with failures, to give their best to every situation and yet have faith in bigger plans. So far, we have students placed in best organisations and they are doing well. We inculcate healthy competition amongst our students and faculty to push them even further, it’s always a good thing, it forces us to do our best.