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Top NRI doctors heading home

Anjali Prayag

ON RETURN ROUTE

Bangalore , April 25

It sure is a healthy sign. Indian doctors, who went abroad to nurse better career prospects, are now boarding the return flight home. Though still seen in trickles, the trend is expected to gather momentum soon, say industry experts.

The Bangalore-based Manipal Health Systems, which owns and operates 11 hospitals across the country, has already roped in 20 top NRI medical consultants for its hospitals in the last one year. Mr R. Basil, Director and CEO, Manipal Health Systems, said, "Every week I get at least four e-mail messages from Indian doctors in the US and the UK, expressing interest in returning home."

Obviously, these top hires are specialists in areas of work such as liver transplants, sports medicine, exercise medicine, cardio thoracic surgery, critical care and paediatric neurology.

Wockhardt Hospital and Heart Institute receives close to 40 CVs every month from NRI doctors. "But I wouldn't be surprised if in the near future, doctors of foreign origin also show a similar interest," says Mr Vishal Bali, Vice-President, Operations, Wockhardt Hospitals. The hospital has already roped in five Indian specialists from abroad for high-end work in the areas of cardiovascular surgery, orthopaedics, neuro surgery and critical care heads.

Specialists

Mr Bali expects the country to have at least 500 specialists in the next three years who have come through the `return route'. Though some hospitals depend on personal networking to recruit these consultants, there are some super-speciality hospitals that have assigned search firms for the job. EMA Partners International, a Mumbai-based executive search firm, is in talks with Indian doctors from Germany and the UK for a couple of its clients.

Can the rupee salary offered by Indian hospitals match that of the dollar pay packet that these high-profile doctors are drawing abroad? Mr K. Sudarshan, Managing Partner, EMA Partners, said, "Indian hospitals, too, are upping their salary levels. Brand name doctors can command upwards of Rs 1 crore, while mid-level doctors are placed for salaries ranging from Rs 30 lakh to 45 lakh per annum."

More than just money

Mr Bali said that most of these consultants are financially well off, and are here for reasons other than money. Therefore, the expectation may not be much. "India's growing population offers a depth and richness of experience for professional development which they may not get anywhere else."

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