“Covid has provided a great opportunity to enhance and strengthen the country’s healthcare infrastructure. We must ensure quality and timely healthcare, and prepare ourselves for similar challenges in the future,” says Dr. Sujata Das, Medical Director, Drushti Daan Eye Bank, L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Bhubaneswar and alumna of the AMPH Founding Class.

Becoming a doctor was a natural choice for Sujata whose parents also cheered for this profession. After completing her MBBS and MD from Behrampur in Odisha, she completed a long-term cornea fellowship from LVPEI Hyderabad. This was followed by two more international fellowships from Germany and Australia. An ophthalmologist par excellence, Sujata was recently awarded the prestigious K R Dutta Award (2021). The award by the All India Ophthalmological Society was bestowed upon her for her pioneering work in community eye banking.

After two decades of clinical practice, Sujata took the dive into management. She explains why. “LVPEI is a doctor-driven organisation. So, despite being doctors, we were always involved in day-to-day decision-making where we needed to apply administrative skills. In 2012, when I became the director of the Drushti Daan Eye Bank at LVPEI Bhubaneswar, I decided that I needed to learn principles of management in order to devise and implement appropriate strategies and target resources for the institute’s overall growth. That’s when I took the plunge.”

The AMPH is a modular healthcare-focused management programme at ISB which suited Sujata’s needs well. “I wanted to learn the C-suite skills but without taking a break from practice. AMPH’s modular format did the trick for me. I could both work and learn at the same time,” says Sujata. Talking about the learnings at AMPH, she says, “ISB mentors are excellent! They helped me focus and understand how to drive organisational growth to the next level. The ability to think and plan strategically and understand how technology can impact an organisation’s performance and growth were very useful learnings. However, the most critical takeaway for me was the knowledge of how to build and lead teams successfully.”

Explaining how she was able to implement the learnings from ISB at LVPEI, Sujata says, “When the pandemic struck, we had two clear objectives: a) Safety of our staff with continued care delivery, and b) Avoiding overcrowding at our institute. For the same, we continued process improvement and laid down protocols for each process, ranging from the reception to manpower distribution to patient coordination and surgeries. We kept on changing the strategies to suit our needs. This agility and dynamism are an outcome of the teachings at AMPH.”

On the occasion of Doctor’s Day, she says, “We all have witnessed how the adoption of telehealth has become the new normal in care delivery over the past year and a half. The doctors should make every effort to continue patient care using new and innovative methods.”