NEW DELHI: Dr DY Patil Vidhyapeeth, Pune; JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysore; and Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani are all offering postgraduate degree programmes in business administration (MBA), specifically for hospital management and administration online.
The COVID-19 pandemic had pushed all educational institutions to offer classes online from April 2020 to complete their programmes and avoid the loss of the academic year. It also helped institutions embrace online degrees more easily.
“The programme is recognized by the University Grants Commission and this year we also got recognition from the AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education). The program is online and is open for candidates from across the globe,” said HK Mamatha, associate professor and head, department of health system management studies, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru. The UGC has allowed over 40 universities to offer degree programmes online and of them, 31 are offering management ones.
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The basic eligibility criterion for admission to the programme in most institutions is that a candidate should have completed an undergraduate degree in any healthcare discipline – medicine (MBBS), ayurveda (BAMS), dentistry (BDS), or nursing (BSc Nursing) – or possess a degree in health sciences or microbiology.
“MBBS, BDS, BAMS – it can be anything, but they should have a medical background,” said R Gopal, director, head of the department, school of management, DY Patil University, Mumbai. “We also take people who have completed BSc in microbiology and candidates who have completed BSc Nursing as they are directly involved in the hospital management.”
DY Patil offers admission to candidates from the humanities and commerce streams as well too but only if the candidate has a business in healthcare or a parent involved in the healthcare profession, said Gopal.
DY Patil Vidyapeeth’s policy is still more flexible than JSS Academy which offers its management programme only to candidates from the healthcare discipline. In fact, candidates already employed in the healthcare sector are preferred.
“In the healthcare sector, different avenues are opening up now. Many people are venturing into healthcare startups. This course will help them understand this sector and we also have courses on entrepreneurship development,” added Mamatha.
With disruptive innovations prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the medical and research institutions encouraged doctors and health professionals to take charge of healthcare management and administration of a hospital setting.
Several initiatives were used in COVID-19 management and for reaching out to people including the ArogyaSetu App to the vaccination management system. “Technology can aid in better patient care management and so, these are all things which we need to inculcate in our health care profession,” said Mamatha.
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Learning while on duty is an important aspect that the online classes emphasize.
While the teachers and the institutions are responsible for imparting theoretical concepts to students, it is identifying the problem areas in the workplace and solving them that serves as practical experience and considered an internship for working professionals.
“The solution [to a problem] is found through experience, consultation, observation or even studying previous records. If they have the administrative skills through formal training like what we offer in the MBA programme, they will definitely have a better approach to problems and resolve issues more efficiently,” added Mamatha.
Students not associated with a hospital setting are encouraged to join a hospital for a period of two months to understand the administrative and managerial aspects.
“For online programmes too, we have made it compulsory that they should go and work in the hospital during the summers,” said Gopal explaining that most of the students enroll themselves for the programme after completing their MBBS.
Though most students have already completed one year of internship during the course of their undergraduate studies, it is not enough as they lack exposure to the administrative side of the operations.
“They are fresh graduates and don’t have any basic background on how the hospitals are actually run. The administrative and managerial aspects are not known to them,” Gopal explained, adding, “the curriculum is more or less the same, it is on the same line as what we have for the offline programmes but the most important item in this [online] programme is the internship.”
Students living close to DY Patil Vidyapeeth will be sent to the DY Patil hospital. “We encourage students to go there and work, get involved in the running administration work in the hospital. They don’t get involved in the clinical part of the work”, said Gopal.
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The online degree courses are attracting students from other countries as well.
“We have applications from African nations, we have students from Mauritius and New Guinea to name a few,” said Mamatha. The degree course is attracting foreign nationals under the government’s e-vidyabharati scheme. “Our programme is recognized by the ministry of external affairs, Government of India. We have learners sponsored completely by the ministry of external affairs under the e-vidyabharati scheme. So, through that, we have the enrollments of many doctors from other countries.”
The applications JSS academy received till now are from doctors, dental surgeons and a few nursing professionals.
The academy introduced the online programme in October 2020 within months of the UGC’s regulations allowing online degrees. While it is the second semester for the October 2020 batch, classes for those admitted in the January session also are in progress.
DY Patil has been offering online classes in hospital administration for the past four years; the degree course is new.
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“I have not seen anybody from my college or other colleges remaining unemployed,” said Gopal.
After completing the programme, students get opportunities in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and NGOs. “Career-wise it is big. COVID-19 has given a big impetus to the healthcare sector across the globe. A lot of investment is going into setting up hospitals,” said Gopal.
“We require them and the person behind all of these is an MBA with hospital administration.”
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