In his 37 years of career, Dr Naresh Pratap KC has seen big changes in the field of Public Health in Nepal. The medical veteran is currently the Executive Director of the Family Planning Association of Nepal. In a conversation with the HRM Dr KC talked about his career growth and opportunities for fresh medical graduates in the field of Public Health, among other topics. Excerpts:
Tell us about your first job.
I returned to Nepal from Russia after completing the Doctor of Medicine (MD) prorgam in June 1985. After a few months, I started working as a medical officer at the Nepal Tuberculosis Hospital in Kalimati which is run by the Nepal Anti Tuberculosis Association (NATA). But even after joining the organization, I kept on visiting many places seeking a new job ad I wanted to work in a big hospital in the hope to learn and grow. But I was told that there were no vacancies and if interested I can go to district hospitals to work.
How easy or difficult was it for you to get the job at that time?
For young medical graduates at that time, working in district hospitals was possible but joining big hospitals was difficult. Despite the offer, I was not in a position to leave Kathmandu as my father was sick.
Did the sector/field match your academic area?
When I was a medical student, I wanted to become a surgeon. But my ideas changed as I kept working. When I was in Nepal TB Hospital, I wanted to pursue a chest physician but this was limited to training only. Later I thought of going into the field of Public Health, not treating patients individually but preventing people from getting sick.
What major lessons did you learn during the first job?
My first job and jobs thereafter have taught me to compromise on many things in both career development and personal life. Things do not happen as you wish or desire.
What are the major achievements for you professionally and personally?
Having worked at all levels of the government, I received promotions a number of times over the years. It was basically because I was transferred to different places which many other people find difficult. This helped me to understand the system.
You have spent the majority of your years in the healthcare profession, especially in public health. How has this sector changed over these years?
The sector has changed for the better. Now people are more aware of different diseases. Public health interventions are increasing. The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that we need to focus more on the preventive side.
How competitive is the healthcare sector now for young graduates compared to past years?
Young graduates are now very competitive and smart. In the meantime, they are also very ambitious which is not necessarily good. It can make them more money-minded than service-oriented. I think it is due to the competition and high fees they pay for education.
How lucrative is the Nepali medical sector in terms of employment, salary, and perks?
It depends on how new doctors perform and face challenges along their way in their careers to achieve success. For beginners, it can be about surviving difficulties. But after some years of experience and exposure, it is a lucrative profession, especially in the private sector.
What preparations do the fresh graduates need to do while entering the medical sector, especially in the field of Public Health?
Public Health is a field that does not yield fruits immediately in terms of career growth. It is long years of persistent work in remote areas of the country in challenging conditions. If fresh graduates plan to build their careers in Public Health, they need to be prepared long difficult road before they reach their career goals.