Madhuri Kanitkar did not dream of joining the army while growing up. In fact, she did not even know about Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), until she was in Class XII. Yet, she ended up becoming an army doctor and now Deputy General Madhuri Kanitkar is the first woman dean of her alma mater - AFMC, Pune.
Madhuri was completing her schooling in Fergusson College, Pune when she chose medicine as her career. It was at the same time that she heard about AFMC from one of her friends. Talking about what made her want to join the college to Femina, she said,
I had friends in NDA and I used to see that there is something different and smart about them. And I had a roommate who was from an airforce background. So, she was keen to join AFMC, and that was the first time I heard about it. So, I came with her (to the college) and saw the distinct difference and the neatness, cleanliness, discipline somehow really impressed me.
In 1980s, Madhuri was trying to make her mark in a field that had very few women - friendly policies. Also, it was a male-dominated field, so she had to face a lot of struggles. Despite all that, she ended up completing MBBS from AFMC as a topper and was awarded the presidential gold medal for the best outgoing student.
Madhuri then went on to complete her post graduation in Paediatrics, training in Paediatric Nephrology from AIIMS and a few other fellowships from Singapore and London.
After nearly four decades in the army, Madhuri is the first trained pediatric nephrologist in the armed forces. Talking about her plans for AFMC as a dean in an interview with The Indian Express, Madhuri said,
Being part of the AFMC has taught me a lot. Now, it is time for me to give back to my alma mater. There is a great team here and we will focus on plans to stimulate research among students. Assessment drives learning but we will also train our doctors with skills that are not part of the curriculum — like communication skills — bedside manners and to ensure they are not stressed out.
Women joining the army in any capacity attracts attention even in the 21st century. What Madhuri has accomplished is no small feat considering she started her career in the early 1980s.
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