Dr. Animesh Jain is an Associate Professor of Community Medicine, Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore and FAIMER fellow 2008 batch at PSG FRI, Coimbatore. He has been elected as the Joint Secretary of Indian Medical Association (IMA), Mangaluru branch for the year 2011 – 2012. Born and brought up in the Steel city of Jamshedpur, he came to Mangalore to pursue MBBS in 1995. He fell in love with this quaint coastal town/city and the charming people and settled down to life as a Medical teacher.
Dr.Vishaal Bhat (MB):Could you please narrate how a day in the life of a Community Medicine teacher goes about for our readers.
Dr. Animesh Jain:In general, it is a mix of a few classes, clinical and medical social case teaching, guiding student projects and field work as well as preventive and curative services at outreach clinic. This is interspersed once in a while with school health, some talks to different groups of people and some meetings at or with district health officials.
MB:What did you like most about teaching, which made you join this profession? Why do you continue?
Dr. Animesh Jain:Teaching is the only profession where we can shape people’s career and mould them. And teaching medicine is one of the best. I have always felt that I had this inclination towards teaching. I love teaching and students. It comes naturally to me I feel. Besides, I always wanted to change the outlook of students as I had myself faced problems sometimes as a student. I am passionate about teaching and like to make the subject interesting and change the outlook of students towards the subject. I also try to tell the students the practical and important concepts that will help them in practice/future. I have tried to bring a few innovations and made students learn research methodology.
The curiosity, enthusiasm and zeal of students keep me going. My wish is to make students realise and relate to the day-to-day implications of learning. I try to improvise and experiment with different approaches to deliver the lessons and that’s why I am here. Feedback from students helps and encourages me. In fact, there are times, when I learn from my students. A teacher or all of us should be life-long learners. I enjoy what I do, and that’s why I continue.
MB:What is the hardest part of what you do?
Dr. Animesh Jain:The evaluation of answer scripts is the most difficult thing. Especially when some students just write what they feel like, sometimes not even remotely connected to the topic. It takes a lot of time and efforts to evaluate answer scripts.
MB:What do you believe you do the best at and why?
Dr. Animesh Jain:I feel I am good at connecting with people and get along easily with different people with diverse background.
May be others can answer this better.
However what I feel is that whatever I do, especially any responsibility or job that I take up, I do it very sincerely and seriously and put in my best.
MB:Do you have mentors or collaborate with peers?
Dr. Animesh Jain:Yes I do collaborate with peers both in community medicine and other specialities as well as in medical education. I believe that is the best way to work as it teaches us a lot as well as makes us achieve much more than what one would do alone.
However, I do not have a Godfather and that is why sometimes I lose out on certain things. But that has never deterred me.
MB:What do you wish you would have learned in college/grad school?
Dr. Animesh Jain:I wish I had learned a little more about research and wish the teaching (curriculum) was more practically oriented instead of just being theoretical.
MB:Retrospectively speaking, when you completed your MBBS, your undergraduate degree, where did you picture yourself?
Dr. Animesh Jain:I did not have much idea but I definitely thought that I would make it big and will also be able to balance my personal and professional life with great satisfaction. I don’t know if I have done that or not; sometimes I still wonder have I made it big. One thing is certain: I have been fortunate enough to have achieved much more than expected.
MB:What do you feel about the medical education system of India? What will be your suggestion to improve the medical education system of India?
Dr. Animesh Jain:The Medical Education in India is more theoretical. The emphasis on practice/skills acquisition is not much in spite of having large volume of cases compared to the West. I feel we have to bring in concept of case/ problem directed learning. These make students read for themselves and encourages them to become lifelong learners.
The aim should be to make sure that after graduating a doctor with MBBS degree should be well versed with most common and basic ailments and should be able to treat, educate, advise and manage illnesses.
Another issue is that of PG entrances and the rat race. Due to this the students keep themselves occupied with solving MCQs and do not learn the practical aspects. We should have continued evaluation and a mandatory test of skills at the end of internship before awarding the final degree and registration.
Nevertheless, the medical education in India is going through a lot of transition. The students are very much interested in learning and doing things. But they need to be groomed and facilitated. Besides, it has to be instilled in them that they need to be competent and compassionate and a total or complete doctor rather than a quack.
MB:What kinds of activities (e.g. research, courses, volunteer work) did you engage in as an undergraduate that you feel has helped you in your career?
Dr. Animesh Jain:Unfortunately, there were hardly any opportunities for research, additional course or volunteer work available during my undergraduate days. Neither were we so aware or oriented towards these. We were involved in extra-curricular activities and probably that has helped in some way especially in dealing with people and situations. Also, it has helped in working as a team and bond with people.
MB:What will be your advice to the undergraduates (specifically in India and in general) who want to take up research in biomedical sciences?
Dr. Animesh Jain:Research is definitely very important. Every student should have idea about the basics of research methodology. There is a lot of potential and the students can do some meaningful research. However, they should remember that there are no short-cuts. They should learn the right way and choose guides who can give them time and teach them the right things which will hold them in good stead through their life.
Orientation in research is a skill useful in all branches. It makes a person inquisitive: ready to question and find answers. This also helps in practicing evidence based medicine.
MB:As you climbed up the ladder in your career you’ve been granted many administrative responsibilities. How was that transition?
Dr. Animesh Jain: God has been very generous and the administration and my seniors and superiors had faith in me so I was given certain responsibilities. Every responsibility has given me a rich learning experience. I have been able to mature and handle difficult and diverse situations and deal with people. I have been able to manage a lot of things well and have done it within the stipulated time and deadlines as I have the (bad) habit of doing things at the nick of time on most occasions.
The transition has been quite rapid especially in the last couple of years but I have thoroughly enjoyed it all.
MB:You’ve recently been appointed as a secretary of the IMA, Mangalore chapter, an active Rotarian and also very actively involved with the Department of Medical Education at Kasturba Medical College Mangalore. How are you able to balance so many commitments at once?
Dr. Animesh Jain: Thanks for the compliment. I strongly believe that if one has the passion for something, he/she would find time for it. The dedication, desire to change things and commitment is a strong motivator. As said earlier, God has been kind to me and people had faith in me so I have been able to do all these. As long as I can do justice to these, I take up responsibility. I believe in working hard and putting in the best. Besides, I am very fortunate to have a very understanding family, so they also let me pursue multiple roles and support me. My close friends too deserve a credit as they are always ready to help me.
MB:You’re also very active during the College cultural events and are usually among the first to volunteer for the same. What is the secret?
Dr. Animesh Jain:I have had a very good time and was always involved in cultural events at school and college. So, these opportunities give me the pleasure of reliving old memories in a way. It also helps in connecting with students in a different way and a totally different atmosphere. I believe that these activities bring out a lot of hidden talent among students to the fore and we need to nurture and encourage these too.
MB:What is something you did this year that went better than you thought it would?
Dr. Animesh Jain:Last year (in Sept 2011) I think it was the way I participated in the two week course in health research methodology course that I was selected for at St John’s Research Institute Bangalore. I was pleasantly surprised to be awarded the second best participant among the 30.
Other than this, in 2009, the MEDICON, 2nd Asian medical students’ research conference went very well, much more than expected. Even till date, people fondly remember that. My team of students and volunteers who helped me in organizing it deserve full credit.
MB:Knowing what you know now, would you still choose to be a teacher if you could go back in time and make the choice again? If the answer is “no,” is there a way for you to choose a different path now?
Dr. Animesh Jain:Definitely yes. I am very happy as a teacher and would do so again.
MB:Do you feel teachers get the credit they deserve?
Dr. Animesh Jain: The answer is both yes and no. Depends on what you consider as credit. In some ways they do get credit but many a times they don’t. But I don’t think that always matters. A good teacher will never cease to do what he/she does if credit is not given.
MB:Are there students that you wish you didn’t have?
Dr. Animesh Jain:I don’t wish anything like that. I do agree sometimes we do feel a little disappointed when our efforts don’t get the response or reciprocation from students. But I guess each student is different and we need to take it in our stride to help them. Connect with them and guide them appropriately. This is what makes teaching a very exciting profession, and challenging and rewarding experience.
MB: How do you spend your spare time?
Dr. Animesh Jain: Photography, internet surfing and reading magazines and newspapers. Playing and spending time with my daughter who is three and a half year old. I enjoy and relax during my spare time.
MB:Lastly we would like to know, what keeps you motivated?
Dr. Animesh Jain: The desire to excel in whatever I do, take up or am entrusted with makes me work hard and concentrate solely on it. May be that’s what keeps me motivated and focussed. I am a very enthusiastic person by nature with a “never say die” kind of attitude. Being challenged and pushed against the wall makes me spring back and overcome the hurdles with all my strength.
Also, the gratitude of students, the smile of contentment on having understood the subject and appreciation that I receive and can perceive in their eyes makes me feel very happy and motivates me.