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More than a white coat and a stethoscope

Everyone is wise, some share their wisdom and others don’t. For those who don’t, it isn’t because they can’t, but because their hands are busy healing while we pray.

Dr M N Harindra
Dr M N Harindra

There are a lot of people who avoid using medicines, prefer staying away from hospitals and doctors or anyone in white coats. For there always has been a preconceived notion that most doctors are dutifully firm, thus not very entertained wasting time interacting with a non-medico unless it is a patient (pun intended). Hence the conversations usually are short, to the point and facts oriented when talking to a doctor. But this clichéd belief was proven wrong time and again by various charming doctors who regardless of their everyday high-pressure circumstances, wear a soothing smile round the clock.

Dr M N Harindra, an otorhinolaryngologist (ENT specialist), is one such charismatic doctor. He comes from a well-to-do family of Mysore. His father was a Design Engineer in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited by profession and mother was a kindergarten teacher by passion. Dr Harindra finished his senior secondary education from MES Pre-University College, Bangalore before joining Armed Forces Medical College in Pune to pursue his MBBS. There was quite a lot to talk about on the life in the Armed Forces, the discipline that is fed into the veins of everyone there and how surviving there gets one physically as well as mentally tough whilst mastering the art of saving lives. Even though there were opportunities to establish a career as an officer in Army, he chose a civilian life.

When asked about the motivation behind being a doctor, Dr Harindra said he very fondly admired his cousin, a surgeon in the US who had an influence on him to firmly stand ground on this noble profession.

Dr Harindra then went on to join the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh as a Senior Resident before pursuing the MS degree in Otorhinolaryngology. He also has a DNB in ENT. Dr M N Harindra is married to Dr Suma Harindra who is an Audiometry and Speech Therapist and practices in Mysore. They are blessed with two sons, the elder one is a lawyer to be and the younger one is in his 9th grade.

The topic of interest has geared up from general know-how to discussion on subjects specific to the discrete ENT realm such as the head and neck surgery, skull base surgery for tumour removal in brain and endoscopic sinus surgery to clean the blockages in sinuses. Discussing on how the modern techniques have uplifted the success rate in these challenging surgeries and have helped enable doctors to take up even more complicated cases with a greater confidence, Dr Harindra put forward some very interesting ideas on how improvisation of surgical techniques is necessary to prevail in the present-day privatized health care sector.

Dr Harindra modestly shared his experience in pioneering high tech ENT services in Mysore and the surrounding areas. With a facility equipped with harmonic scalpel, microdebrider, LASER, endoscopes etc to provide treatment at affordable rates to general public, he dedicates majority of his time to patients. He leads and supervises 2-3 surgeries everyday including endoscopic anterior skull base surgery, cochlear implant surgery, head neck cancer surgery and advanced otological surgeries to name a few.

He also has an aptitude for teaching. He volunteered at Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, right after he graduated from PGIMER, as a lecturer. Even today he has trainees shadowing him to acquire the required skillsets to successfully launch their careers. He is also an active member of the Indian Society of Otology, Foundation for Head and Neck Oncology (FHNO, and Association of Otolaryngologists of India (AOI).

Drifting away a little from the ENT care, Dr Harindra stumbled upon the current healthcare and medical education system in India. “Privatization of medical education has surely commercialized the training as well as the treatment in the healthcare sector. What is alarming is the increasing expenses and the under-qualified staff. Even though treatment in India is cheaper in respect to other Third World Nations or the Middle East, due to lack of awareness people mistake the necessary expenses to be a scam. With more and more private medical colleges sprouting every other day, a quality check is almost an impossibility. This creates a dearth of reliable doctors and the medical staff.” He also expressed the need for immediate realization of this blunder the society has accepted and is encouraging without thinking through the catastrophic consequences that may come with it. Talking about how important a cobbler is to a society as a doctor, he urged young ones to follow their dreams rather than living a lie for faux pleasures.

Dr Harindra is very social, but he doesn’t really believe in online interactions unlike most of the world that has grown accustomed to digital dialogues. He spends time on Facebook strictly for scholarly discussions and business progressions. He came in early post lunch to interact with India Medical Times, but there were patients waiting to meet the doctor already. He had to wrap up, but left a quick message for fellow doctors and medical aspirants before leaving.

Highlighting the importance of innovation in medical field, Dr Harindra said, “Mastering already existing medical techniques is a must, but creating new techniques using the existing knowledge is the need of the hour.”

For general public, Dr Harindra insisted that when choosing a doctor for a diagnostic, a thorough research for the same would be of a great help in the decision making and opinions from colleagues of the doctor could play a vital role too.

Dr Harindra believes that doctors more often than not strive to provide the best care; they even push their limitations taking up cases with bleak chances of success. He urges everyone to keep in mind that there is always only so much that could be done. In spite of immense development in providing medical care and diagnostics, unfortunately, there still are limitations to what can be achieved.

by Sai Praveen Mantha

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