Friday, 10 June 2016

Hard work is the key to success Dr KK Aggarwal, Editor in Chief eMedinewS and IMA News in conversation with Dr Amrinder Jit Kanwar, Former Head & Professor, Dept. of Dermatology, PGIMER, Chandigarh. Dr Amrinder Jit Kanwar has been honored with Dr BC Roy National Award for the year 2010 under the category of 'Eminent Medical Teacher'. How does it feel being conferred one of the most prestigious awards in the medical field? It is indeed a great feeling difficult to be described in words. When I received the mail, I could not believe it. I read it again and again. I thanked the Almighty and the whole evening was busy with messages from all friends and relatives. I was able to find a few minutes to remember my mother and I dedicate this award to her. After the death of my father in 1960 she brought us up and looked after us so well. Tell us about your journey so far. Well I was born in Delhi, had my education in government schools and after Pre Medical joined AIIMS. In fact I got selected in MAMC, Delhi and had paid the fees about Rs 300/-. When the result of AIIMS was announced we took a few days to decide as the fees of Rs 300/- deposited in MAMC was non-refundable. But my father had a dream. When AIIMS was under construction he used to visit Safdurjung Hospital for management of his diabetes. I distinctly remember him telling me that look at this huge building, this is going to be great hospital. I wish you become a doctor from this institute only. I am happy that I fulfilled his dream. During MBBS I was fascinated by charm and personality of Late Prof L K Bhutani. And, that is how I decided to become a dermatologist. After MD and doing Senior Residency at AIIMS I went to Benghazi, Libya with my family wherein we spent 10 years. When I returned to India in 1987, I joined PGI Chandigarh as an Associate Professor and continued there till 2013 when I retired as Prof and Head, Dept. of Dermatology. Few important milestones in my career are spending one year at St Johns Institute of Dermatology London in 1995 during Commonwealth Medical Fellowship, two-week HIV fellowship at NIH Washington in 2006, getting FAMS in 2008 and Dr R V Rajam oration in 2014. I am thankful to students, colleagues and patients as all this would not have been possible without their help. What were the early challenges faced by you in your career? How did you manage to overcome them? A decision which I would always regret is that why I did not go to the US after clearing my ECFMG from Colomobo, Sri Lanka in 1970. Things could have been different. After passing MD and during Senior Residency with less than Rs. 5000/- per month as salary and with two daughters, it was difficult to survive. So Prof LK Bhutani showed me an opening in Libya, which I grabbed. But then if I had to go abroad I should have gone to the US. It is a still a nightmare for me to think about my silly mistake. I was reasonably good as a student and I would have been perhaps much better off. But they say it is destiny. I say a lost opportunity. Though I have travelled the whole world, attended many conferences in various capacities, have received awards and honors, I somehow cannot overcome this fact. Tell us about your family. How important has been the role of your family in your journey? I got married during my Internship and had two daughters by the time I passed MD. They have always been very supportive. My mother played a sheet anchor role in my life. What I am today is because of her. But now even my children tell me that you made a blunder of not going to the US. I agree. What would be your message to the community? My message to community is that ‘Health is wealth’. Skin is the largest organ in the body and should be looked after well. Given a chance, what changes would you like to bring about in health policies? Health policies need a drastic change. There is an acute shortage of good medical faculty. It is difficult for poor people to get good medical treatment. The govt. should look after the health of its people. Even so many years after independence we are not able to provide free drinking water to our people. All hospitals cater to rich and no one cares for the poor. What advice would you give to youngsters? Youngsters should have clear aims in their life as to what they want to achieve and how. Hard work is the key to success. Dr Amrinder Jit Kanwar S/O Late Shri Inder Singh and Smt Shanti Devi was born on 29th June 1948 in Delhi. After his schooling in Delhi he joined the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi to pursue MBBS as it was the desire of his parents that he should become a doctor. After completing MBBS in 1969 Dr Kanwar stayed at AIIMS to obtain post graduate (M D) in Dermatology and Venereology in Jan 1975. After Senior Residency at AIIMS he went on a foreign assignment to Benghazi, Libya where he stayed till 1987.On his return from Libya he joined Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh as an Associate Professor in Dermatology. He stayed in PGI, Chandigarh till June 2013 when he retired as Senior Professor and Head, Department of Dermatology, Venereology & Leprology. After his retirement he moved to his home town Delhi. Presently he is working as Professor and Head Department of Dermatology at Sharda University, Greater Noida. During his career spanning more than 45 years Dr Kanwar has several affiliations, awards and honors to his credit. He was selected as a fellow of National Academy of Medical Sciences (FAMS) in 2008 and as a Fellow of Royal College of Physicians (FRCP) London in 2011. He has 592 publications to his credit in National and International journals. His main areas of interest are Vitiligo, Pemphigus, Atopic dermatitis and Psoriasis. In view of his outstanding work in Vitiligo he was awarded Lala Ram Chand Kandhari Award by the Indian Council of Medical Research in 2010. He was selected by the National Academy of Medical Sciences to deliver the Dr R V Rajam oration in 2014. He also delivered Dr Ambady Oration awarded by Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists in 1991 during the annual conference at Patna. He spent one year at St John’s Institute of Dermatology, London in 1995 during Commonwealth Medical Fellowship. During this period he received special training in Pediatric Dermatology. He was at the National Institute of Health, Washington USA in 2006 for a Fellowship in AIDS. And he spent one month in Kurume, Japan in 2010 for special training in Pemphigus He received the Best Teacher award from the Indian Association of Dermatologists Venereologists and Leprologists in 2015 and Life time Achievement award in 2016. Dr Kanwar is a Senior dermatologist with an extremely good clinical sense. He relishes this Dr B C Roy award as the best moment of his life. He is loved a lot by his students, fellow colleagues and patients.

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