By inducting healthcare management professionals, hospitals can transform the way they deliver services while also gearing up for future disastrous events.
--BY KRISHANA PRASAIN
Efficient healthcare is the key to the success of any modern day hospital. In Nepal, only a few hospitals have adopted modern management in healthcare, while many such institutions lag far behind in delivery of quality, effective and timely delivery of services. At present, maintaining proper hospital management has become a crucial challenge for both public and private healthcare institutions.
With a view to overcome such challenges, the National Open College (NOC) introduced its Bachelor in Health Care Management (BHCM) in 2000 and later launched the Masters in Health Care Management (MHCM).
“We are the country’s pioneering college in healthcare management studies,” says Prof Dr Murali G. Ranjitkar, head of department of Research and Development at NOC. “The programme aims to develop managerial skills among healthcare professionals so that they are able to better manage the institutions,” he adds. According to him, BHCM and MHCM programmes blend managerial techniques with clinical aspects and help students to understand the relationship of the two factors in the healthcare sector.
Sajana Kunwar, programme coordinator at NOC, says that the programmes cover topics such as understanding about government health policies and management of epidemics, hospital along with inventory planning and management.
NOC is an internationally accredited institution and the only college in Nepal that runs a MHCM programme. The college has already produced 300 graduates in BHCM and MHCM till date. According to Prof Ranjitkar, the college has been looking to introduce additional courses to address crucial aspects of the health sector.
Initiation of Healthcare Management Programme
Kunwar says that there are hospitals in Nepal where doctors are still engaged in the overall hospital management. “If we look at other countries, it is professionals with academic qualifications on healthcare management who actually handle the management of hospitals,” she mentions. “After observing the discrepancy in practices between international healthcare institutions and our hospitals, we felt the need to introduce the healthcare management programme in Nepal. Our aim has been to bring efficiency in the work environment in hospitals where there are several challenges due to poor management,” Kunwar adds.
Why Healthcare Management?
NOC’s main aim in running healthcare management education has been to provide a different set of managerial skills to its students. After graduation, the students look after the management part of different types of hospitals while they also strive to generate positive changes within the healthcare environment.
Prof Ranjitkar views that the rising number of private hospitals is making the healthcare institutions more competitive to deliver quality health services. “Professionals with proper healthcare management skills can ensure good management and quality,” he says, “It is what makes programmes like BHCM and MHCM vital in the present context of Nepal,” he adds.
In addition, these programmes also prepare students to manage the flow of patients during the time of natural disasters and epidemics. According to Prof Ranjitkar the programmes comprise of classes on disaster preparedness while also taking students on field studies to make them ready for emergency situations.
According to him, three types of work forces should work in tandem at medical institutes in the area of prevention, cure and management. “When health institutions focus on having different work forces for these three elements, only then will its functioning become smooth,” he reasons. Prof Ranjitkar believes that problems are bound to occur if the same workforce works in all the three areas.
“The fundamental objective of healthcare management programmes is to prepare responsible, skilled and competent managers in healthcare sectors who also have a knowledge and understanding about health issues,” says Kunwar.
Healthcare management is a broad topic with wide scope. The BHCM and MHCH graduates can pursue their careers in the healthcare sector, NGOs and INGOs, consulting firms, , public health departments, health insurance organisations, lifestyle clinics, mental health organisations, rehabilitation centres and also can engage in academic professions. They can also work in the areas of planning, managing and evaluating health projects and programmes and health care systems along with development of health plans and policies.
According to Kunwar, most of NOC healthcare management graduates are working in UK, Canada, US and European countries. Kunwar shares that the graduates of the college are also working in different hospitals including Grande International, Nepal Mediciti, B & B and Norvic International alongside INGOs such as GIZ Nepal, Save the Children, UNICEF and USAID.
Likewise, Prof Ranjitkar says that the government has recently created temporary positions for the healthcare management professionals at public hospitals and the new NOC graduates have also been working in such institutions. According to him, there is no permanent civil service position for healthcare managers in government hospitals. “We are lobbying with the related ministries and the Public Service Commission for the purpose and hopefully the positions will be created,” he says.
About the Course
NOC has prepared the course materials of the programmes in line with the standards set by World Health Organization (WHO) which is updated regularly. According to Kunwar, the programmes mainly focuses on four areas - pollution management in hospitals, transmission of communicable diseases, health organisations and dissemination of crucial health information to the general public.
“At NOC, we practice pedagogy of learning through practical classes right from the beginning of the programme. We engage students in different assignments and presentation sessions to develop their personality to boost their confidence and instill managerial skills in them for easy transition to job markets,” she mentions. Kunwar adds that the college programme focuses more on practical study and internships for three years in the four-year BHCM Programme. The programme entails various assignments and field visits followed by an internship programme for which the college has collaborated with different polyclinics and hospitals. “We also offer volunteering opportunities to the students at our partner healthcare institutions,” Kunwar shares.
Who can study?
Students with a background in health science who are in technical fields such as lab technology, radiology, health assistance and nursing with an interest in both clinical and management in health are eligible for the programme. The programme will also be useful for students eager to pursue their career in management and are interested in healthcare management.
Students with intermediate degrees in science or management can apply for the enrollment in the BHCM programme. For MHCM, graduates in BHCM, Post-Graduate Diploma in Healthcare Management (PGDHCM), Bachelor in Medicine and Bachelor in Science (MBBS), Bachelor in Dental Studies (BDS), Bachelor of Ayurveda Medicine and Surgery (BAMS), Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPT) and homeopathy and naturopathy can apply.
Students with different backgrounds but who are keen on pursing MHCM are required to complete a one-year diploma in health care management. NOC also runs the one-year diploma programme.
Fee Structure and Class Timing
Located at Sanepa, Lalitpur, NOC runs BHCM classes from 6:30 am to 11 am and MHCM classes from 5:30 pm to 730 pm. The BHCM programme costs Rs 400,000 at NOC while the total fees for the MHCM programme is Rs 300,000.