An Interview with Entrepreneur Doctor, AP Bhardwaj

It is always good to start something new when you are young – you have a lot of energy, ultra high enthusiasm and tons of time to make your own novel mistakes, learn from them, correct them and eventually become a role model (and filthy rich) by the time you are 50. Young entrepreneurship is the way to go!

But then, if you are a victim of the upset economy and the infamous middle-life crisis, does it mean its The End of the not-so underdog movie, is it the end of the entrepreneurial dreams? If youth is the driving force behind everything new and passionate, does it mean that when you are on the other side, you can only do old things dispassionately?

Absolutely NOT! In Oscar Wilde’s words “It is the inordinate passion for pleasure that is the secret of remaining young and not the other way round”.

To drive this point cross I met Dr A P Bharadwaj, a successful private practitioner working in a small city for over a year now. At an age when money is no longer a prize, he left his government job, his well earned pension to start something of his own in a not so rich town of Andaman Islands. His spectrum of patients ranges from the below poverty line to the most affluent one. He is a pediatrician by qualification and in course of his practice he sees patients who are below twenty years of age (In other words, young!).

In coversation with the doctor..

VP: How long have you been in practice actually?
Dr. Bhardawaj: Well! It is one year and two months, to be precise.

VP: You were working in a Government set-up earlier and spent the major part of your life there. Why did you decide to come for private practice so late?
Dr. Bhardawaj:There were too much of limitations for me in the Govt. sector. The procedures are too lengthy there and often cumbersome to procure an item of my choice. And since it was a Govt. hospital and the services were free, patients never used to give much importance to the specialists’ advice there but the picture is just the opposite in private practice. This gives a great deal of satisfaction to me.

And late? Is there an age when you stop dreaming? Since you can dream forever, I believe it is never too late to realize those dreams.

VP: Do you feel your earlier job was a waste of time?
Dr. Bhardawaj: Certainly not! It was of immense value to me. I learnt a great deal of my experience there. During our degree courses we get only theoretical knowledge but in practice we get the actual working experience. In fact in our medical sciences there is a world of difference between theoretical and practical knowledge. The degree of difference is probably unique in our discipline. To be honest I continue to cherish those experiences. I have learnt the skill of patient management there. How to take history, how to talk to a patient who is in distress, how to manage a patient who needs emergency care, all these I have learnt during my earlier stint. Whatever name and fame I have acquired today it is entirely because of my Govt. job.

VP: If I am not mistaken, you are working alone. Don’t you feel you are taxing yourself?
Dr. Bhardawaj: You are right. I am running the show all alone. But I am thoroughly satisfied with that. Unlike in Govt. set up where our duties were in a shift system, and there were occasion when I had to leave my follow-up patients to someone else’s care, which I never liked though. But here in my practice I manage them from beginning to the end. This gives me immense pleasure. Of course, there are times when I feel extremely tired but the moment I see smile in my patient’s face I forget my boredom. I get a sense of renewed enthusiasm. And as regards having an assistant, let me tell you I will never get the same satisfaction by letting other doctors examining my patients than if I do it myself, no matter how sincere and dedicated he or she might be. And in my practice patients come to get their treatment done by me and not by a proxy doctor. I also endorse their view, even if it causes me thoroughly worn out by the end of the day.

VP: When you compare your earlier job with the present one, where do you find yourself?
Dr. Bhardawaj: I am more occupied than before and I do not get enough time to spend with my family, yet I am much more happy and satisfied than ever before. During my earlier stint I never used to get any recognition for doing extra job no matter how much time I spent in the hospital but here in practice I invariably get dividend for additional hours that I spend, both in terms of money as well as in professional satisfaction.

VP: In your opinion what is the ideal time for starting something of your own?
Dr. Bhardawaj: The earlier one does it, the better.

But at the same time he must get sufficient experience before embarking on private practice. A patient won’t just come to a doctor unless he has a reasonable degree of confidence on the doctor. In order to gain that confidence the doctor has to work overtime and show sincerity in his effort. He must show concern about the patient’s distress and make every possible effort to relieve the patient of the distress.

VP: How do you keep yourself updated with the latest?
Dr. Bhardawaj: As a routine I read at least an hour a day. And go through the internet whenever I come across difficult cases that do not fit with the conventional symptoms and signs. I don’t hesitate consulting with my seniors every time I face a diagnostic enigma.

VP: What is your message for those who are aspiring to be an entrepreneur?
Dr. Bhardawaj: Well! There are certain imperatives that should be strictly adhered to for being an entrepreneur: Honesty, Sincerity, patience and Perseverance are the key factors in successful private practice. If one lacks in any of these trappings, the prospect of a satisfactory outcome is less likely. Every single complaint that the patient or their relatives’ makes must be listened with utmost patience, no matter how irrelevant and outlandish they may sound in reference to a particular case, but a patient’s trust is gained by this simple maneuver. Never should one loose his cools. Likewise, honesty and Perseverance are the hallmarks of any successful entrepreneurship. Personal comfort should be kept at the back burner, at least at the initial phases of practice, and once the practice picks up fairly well, can one afford to pay attention to his personal obligations.

VP: Do you have any regrets on not starting this when you were younger?
Dr. Bhardawaj: I sincerely believe you are never too old to be younger!

Ipshita Saha

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