Tech Mahindra SMART Academies for Healthcare: Producing Job-Ready Students with a Virtual Hospital & Quality Education

Dr. Loveleen Kacker (Retd. IAS),CEOIt seems obvious that in a heavily populated country like India, adequate number of trained & employed health workers is crucial for common people to access quality care (and any care at all for the poor demography living in rural heartland). The findings of Public Health Foundation of India’s report leave little doubt about this tragic truth, affirming that our country has a staggering shortage of nearly 64.1 lakh allied health professionals, and stresses on the criticality of increasing paramedic workforce rapidly by setting up world-class allied health human resource institutes with stricter regulations. While the cost of training all the additional health workforce is estimated to cost the government around $136 million per year, the real challenge lies in building training centers with robust physical infrastructure and acquiring skilled human capital as educators.

Ironically, on the flip side, we see our youth struggling to find jobs, which might further deteriorate as per the UN labour report which estimates that unemployment rate in India is expected to further rise from 17.8 million in 2017 to 18 million this year. Prescribing a common antidote to both these ailments is the Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for Healthcare – premier healthcare training centres located in Delhi & Mohali. Boasting a stunning portfolio of five two-year diploma courses (certified by the Indian Medical Association) and nine shorter certificate courses (qualified by the Healthcare Sector Skills Council), these Academies are in the pursuit of providing world-class training to allied healthcare professionals such as Operation Theatre Technicians, Dialysis Technicians, X-ray Technicians, Emergency Medical Technicians, Medical Lab Technicians and Medical Records Technicians among others.

Sprouted its roots under the peerless Tech Mahindra Foundation, unsurprisingly, the academies lay immense emphasis on ensuring that the students are trained to the highest possible standards, which is manifest from the uniquely drafted curricula for courses that are built to be longer in duration keeping the latest industry requirements and quality in mind. Dr. Loveleen Kacker, CEO, Tech Mahindra Foundation, remarks, “What sets the Academies apart are their strong industry partnerships. On-job training being a mandatory part of each and every course, our students are deputed to leading hospitals on internships ranging from two to six months depending on the course. And, of course, practical training starts in the laboratories right from day one! We don’t separate theory from practice; we consider the laboratories as classrooms too!”

As impressive as that sounds, the Academies are also keen on enabling every student to take advantage of this incredible opportunity, and hence allow for fee payment in installments and avail bank loans as well. The fact that the needy but deserving students are encouraged to apply for a scholarship from Tech Mahindra Foundation, is not trivial and deserves more than a passing thought. However, the Academies don’t get high marks on affordability alone. Realizing that a well-constructed infrastructure is the foundation on which the house of education is built, the Academies have established spacious laboratories containing fully functional hospital equipment, where the students gain immense practical knowledge by getting trained on machines that are actually used in hospitals. No wonder, the academy received applauds from Dr. N V Kamat, Principal Advisor, Indian Medical Association, Director Health Services, NCT of Delhi (Retired) who remarked, “Excellent infrastructure for teaching and training of paramedics. The institute is a virtual hospital with all facilities. Congratulations for the concept.”
The state-of-the-art laboratories (Operation Theatre laboratory, Basic Skills laboratory, Dialysis laboratory, X-ray laboratory and computer laboratory) are equipped with advanced medical mannequins for students to practice techniques such as CPR, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, intravenous drips, injections and more. In the words of Ashish Bhatia, COO – North & East, Fortis Healthcare, who spoke at the inauguration of the Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for Healthcare, Mohali, “As far as infrastructure goes, I don’t think you’ve left any stone unturned. This is probably the finest infrastructure that any institute in the country could provide. And I am sure this institute is going to churn out great professionals to help this industry grow”.

The academies lay immense emphasis on ensuring that the students are trained to the highest possible standards, which is manifest from the uniquely drafted curricula for courses that are built to be longer in duration keeping the latest industry requirements and quality in mind

Nurturing Employable Candidates
The crux of Tech Mahindra SMART Academies for Healthcare's success is pinned on its eye for quality in imparting the education. The Academies’ 350+ students are nurtured by highly qualified faculty members including doctors, nurses, nurse-tutors, subject matter experts, English, IT & soft-skills trainers along with support staff including admissions counsellors, placement counsellors and administrative staff. Besides teaching the classes via well qualified faculty, the Academies also invite leading members of the medical fraternity as guest lectures to further ascertain that the students exchange ideas and interact with experts from day one itself, apart from taking students for exposure visits. Furthermore, to ensure that on-job training is of the highest standards, the Academies have partnered with leading hospitals such as Fortis in Mohali, and Sir Gangaram, Delhi Ambulance Service and Columbia Asia in New Delhi.

When this phenomenon is married with Tech Mahindra Foundation’s mission of ‘Empowering through Education’, it creates exciting possibilities for the students, where in they metamorphose into completely ‘job-ready’ candidates. In addition to their pragmatic high quality domain knowledge, students are also given training in English, soft skills and IT. In fact, both Academies have dedicated placement teams which ensure that students are not only supported during their on-job training, but also attain help in getting placed after they complete their courses. “Our placement team helps students prepare for interviews and also tries to ensure that students receive campus placements as far as possible,” affirms Richa Sharma, Head - Communication, Branding & Outreach, Tech Mahindra Foundation.

Reinvigorating the Noble Cause
Interestingly, the SMART Academy in Delhi that is encompassing cutting-edge world-class training facilities has a deeper story to tell, as it operates from a heritage building that dates back to 1936 within the verdant Gandhi Ashram in New Delhi. Mahatma Gandhi established the Harijan Sevak Sangh in 1932 in order to uplift the youth of the Harijan community and provide them with vocational training. This vision has received a new lease of life; thanks to the collaboration between the Harijan Sevak Sangh and Tech Mahindra Foundation. The Academies also encapsulate library & canteen facilities, sports, co-curricular and recreational activities as well.

For all diploma courses, students who have completed their graduation from any stream, or those who have completed their 12th standard in science are eligible, where as eligibility for other courses ranges from 8th pass to graduation as per the course
requirement. Prior to admission, students are first counselled about their career options within the paramedical field, following which they are given an entrance test relevant to the course of their choice, and have a short personal interview. For Indian Medical Association certified diploma courses, admissions take place twice in a year (in July and October). Going the extra mile, the Academies even assist outstation students in finding hostel or PG accommodation.

Yet Another Bulls Eye
It’s a universally accepted fact that as one of India’s best known Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) organization, Tech Mahindra Foundation is no novice in the area of skill development. As evidence for its considerable expertise in the arena, look no further than the awards it has won thus far including the prestigious ‘FICCI CSR Award for its excellence in Education and Livelihood’. Its 2012-commenced flagship employability programme - SMART provides vocational training in multiple sectors including service, retail, hospitality, and technical trades like automobile repair & maintenance, AC & refrigeration and electrical repair among others.

Who else has the power to foray into the healthcare skilling sector, but someone who has already proven themselves to be the best skill development organization who has trained almost 65,000 young men and women across India within the short span of six years, while maintaining an impressive 70 percent annual placement rate. Kick-started the first Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for Healthcare in New Delhi in May 2016, the foundation inspired by this Delhi Academy’s success, launched the second Academy in Mohali in 2017. The advisory panel of both Academies are enriched with eminent members of the medical field in New Delhi and Mohali, while the board of Tech Mahindra Foundation is itself chaired by Keshub Mahindra (Chairman, Emeritus, Mahindra Group), and its board includes Anand Mahindra (Chairman, the Mahindra Group), Vineet Nayyar (Vice Chairman, Tech Mahindra Ltd.), and Dr. Loveleen Kacker (CEO, Tech Mahindra Foundation) among others. As the Tech Mahindra SMART Academies for Healthcare are geared up to make a bigger positive impact on the wider Indian population, siliconindia echoes the sentiment of Dr. Satyendra Jain, Health Minister, Government of Delhi, who congratulated the Academies as, “Really a very good initiative. Please keep it up and expand!”

Key Management:
Dr. Loveleen Kacker(Retd.IAS),CEO, Tech Mahindra Foundation
Former IAS officer Dr. Loveleen, has been at the helm of Tech Mahindra Foundation since 2012.Under her visionary leadership, the Foundation has put into place its flagship employability programme SMART (Skills for Market Training) and launched the SMART Academies.

Col.(Dr.)Arun K.Datta(Retd.), Director, Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for Healthcare, New Delhi
After over a quarter century in the Indian Army, Dr. Arun took voluntary retirement and has since worked as a consultant in hospital and healthcare management, specializing in commissioning healthcare facilities and providing quality training to paramedical professionals.

Reeva Paul Gupta, Director, Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for Healthcare, Mohali
An MBA from Punjab University, Reeva has worked as a manager at INSCOL Healthcare and a lecturer at Punjab University prior to taking up her position as Director of the SMART Academy in Mohali.

Locations: Delhi and Mohali
• Diploma: Diploma in Operation Theatre Technician, Dialysis Technician, X-ray & Body Imaging, Medical Lab Technician and Medical Records Technology

• Certificate courses: Emergency Medical Technician, Hospital Front Office & Billing Executive, Vision Care & Optometry Technician, Phlebotomy Technician, Blood Bank Technician, Cardiac Care Technician, General Duty Assistant, Home Health Aide and Japa Nurse