Doctor on a High
Bangalore’s start up culture infects the busiest of its citizens and leaves them feverishly wanting to do more.
Take Dr Farman Ali, 28, who launched Docfort Pulse, India’s first newsletter for medicos, along with a certificate course in medical journalism, at St Joseph’s College on Feb 22.
Dr Ali turned entrepreneur after a year of mentoring nearly 500 students from different medical colleges. That turned into an education start up idea which won Big Idea, a start up competition, last year. “I want to provide students with the guidance I failed to receive when I was one. Tight college schedules topped with a lot of textbook theory have led to a lack of interest and innovation among our country’s future doctors.”
Besides consulting in three hospitals in Bangalore, this general surgeon has been conducting free medical camps in the city’s suburbs right from his student days. Docfort Meducation, his educational startup for medicos, gained substantial funding last year after winning Big Idea. Dr Ali has also registered an NGO that will provide free healthcare for the elderly and disadvantaged.
“We are in the process of innovating affordable healthcare models accessible to all that are better than the existing ones. And the first step is to correct medical education standards,” says this top ranker who doesn’t think 24 hours are enough for the six jobs he holds.
The young Ali was a fixture at the gate of cardiac surgon Dr Devi Shetty’s house when he was in Grade 6. His ambition was to touch him just once. “That was fulfilled when Dr Shetty shook hands with me after handing me an award recently.” Dr Ali’s passion is to become a cardiac transplant surgeon and make cardiac transplant care in India as commonplace as possible.
“There was this 12-day period when I didn’t get to have a single meal with my family. Doctors choose to do what we do — no amount of money can buy our kind of service. It’s absolutely wrong to value medical service in terms of money, to commercialize it. There are a few rotten eggs who have brought a bad reputation to the entire community — which leads to situations like mine where I have a personal bodyguard in certain locations.” Dr Ali recommends strict laws against patient violence and educating doctors to deal with patients by inculcating a curriculum for it during their basic medical education.
Besides Dr Shetty, Elon Musk is a role model he looks up to. “I aim to bring about a revolution in the field of medical education and healthcare, all the while keeping the patient ahead of everything else,” says this doctor-entrepreneur who believes that counselling and talking to patients makes up 50 % of the treatment.
A day in the life of this maverick surgeon, a post-graduate from Bangalore Medical College, is multi-faceted. He bounces from surgery to students, from paperwork to patients, from studying for his exams to chairing board or investor meetings, from jotting down ideas for his academy to writing articles for Docfort Pulse.
His career advice is simple: Having fun colleagues around makes the toughest job worthwhile, along with a supportive family and mentors. “Education, work and wife are what I chose myself, and what make me happy.” What gives him a high? “As macabre as it may sound, playing with blood in the operation theatre, and setting things right.” Does he have time for hobbies? “Writing short stories and essays, playing football and singing — I do take time out for these. Skipping a night’s sleep has never harmed me!”