In the search for a fulfilling career, the healthcare industry gives you more than just a chance to build a fresh set of skills and develop a competitive advantage in a growing segment. However, until a generation ago, healthcare was synonymous with “medical” education. School graduates took a qualifying exam that would enable them to study to be doctors. The logical progression was to a government-run, or mission hospital, where the only aim was to provide quality treatment and care to people, even in the face of poor facilities and the lack of basic amenities.
The good news is the focus remains the same but to extend the best care to all. What has changed is we now aim to provide doctors and their teams with top-of-the-line infrastructure, products, services and knowledge. Most importantly, the healthcare industry needs a skilled workforce of professionals involved in research, market shaping and development and most importantly customer centric roles. It is important that this industry thinks about its customers holistically, including the patients they serve, that can help to solve the most pressing healthcare challenges of India.
Things have come a long way with more private players entering the field, and better public-private partnerships. Needless to say, though the healthcare industry in India has a long way to go, and is on the cusp of building itself up into a US$ 280 billion segment by 2020, slated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 22.9 per cent during the 2015-20 period.
As a student on the threshold of a career, you should know that the healthcare industry is starved for talent. We are growing at a rapid rate, and the talent we have is not growing at the same pace. So our industry is not just hiring for today—instead we are looking at nurturing this capacity for long term. With the focus on quality, you can be sure that your foundation will be firm—much like a good degree sets the foundation for future studies.
The amazing opportunity today is in the fact that you don’t necessarily need highly specialised skills at the entry level, for every function. Since it is a young industry, with several players entering the market, the learning curve is sharp, experts within are more amenable to mentor, talent is nurtured, and you will see greater responsibility at a younger age. This promises opportunities to reshape and redefine the healthcare industry and create an impact in advancing the world of health. The healthcare industry is looking for people who have a higher moral purpose of helping all people live health.
In the company I work for, in last three years, we have recruited 19 management trainees. Today, 16 are still with us, while in many companies, the attrition rate is up to 50 per cent. This tells you those who join are valued, mentored, and given differentiated experiences to accelerate learning. Similarly, we encourage summer interns to join us for a period of eight weeks, and we have a very well-defined stint for them. They work on live projects, on teams that solve problems, and help us implement solutions. This means investing time, money and effort — and we are willing to do this. If the company you’ve interned with is willing to invest in you to help you with your career goals, given that one is in the organisation for just eight weeks; you should consider it a good place to work in!
Before you join any particular segment of this industry, examine the vast areas that healthcare operates in: hospitals, clinics and diagnostics; medical device and equipment manufacturers and importers; medical tourism; health insurance; big data management; health policy and advocacy; pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; finance, human resources, facilities and administration. India has a highly skilled specialised workforce, with more and more super-specialities and micro-specialities on the rise. We are keen on recruiting and engaging with managers in the making, especially those who can be trained and skilled specifically in healthcare industry practices and competencies.
Healthcare in India is paving way to cross-functional engagement resulting in cross-pollination of ideas. Today, you may work with a sales team selling devices. Tomorrow, you may volunteer with a social-sector enterprise to ensure that these devices are being used to meet healthcare access needs. It is an opportunity to develop skills that will stand you in good stead in the years to come.
Besides basic health needs, growing consumer awareness, the increased burden of disease, rising incomes and health insurance availability, are all driving the sector. New healthcare models based around telemedicine are also changing the way we see the doctor-patient relationship. The Union ministry of health is itself targeting the development of 50 technologies this year itself. The medical tourism industry is pegged at US$ 3 billion per annum, and is expected to reach US$ 6 billion by 2018. Plus, the country is now beginning to look at traditional medicine in a very serious way.
So if you’re struggling with life&’s eternal question: “What next?” reach out to the healthcare segment. It will give you a great career and a reason to care about what you’re doing every single day. It may not be the obvious choice, but it sure is a logical one.
The author is director of Human Resources, BD-India.