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Lure of the home turf brings back NRI doctors

WE are seeing the first signs of a reverse brain drain in the healthcare sector, which is expected to only grow over time. The emergence of modern corporate and investorowned hospitals in the country is steadily luring more and more NRI doctors back to home turf. And unlike other sectors, where compensations at par with international levels have been the main draw, doctors are actually taking pay cuts to work in India. Fortis Healthcare, which is slated to open their first Rs 155-crore multi-speciality hospital at Mohali i June, have NRI's heading all their speciality divisions. ``We have nine doctors on board so far, of which 5 are from the US,'' says director, corporate marketing, Fortis Healthcare, Janak Bajwa. At Max, five out of the 35 doctors on board are from the US. Max recently opened up a diagnostic centre and two Dr Max clinics in the capital. The total planned investment for Delhi is in the region of Rs 400 crore, which will include 25 small clinics, 4 large diagnostic centres and 2 large hospitals. Apollo Hospitals, the country's first investor-owned hospital, has 150 full-time doctors on its panel in Delhi, of which 138 are NRI's. So what's making home the best place to be? One big draw is the emergence of truly world-class facilities with the increasing amount of private capital flowing into the business. ``Doctors expect a certain level of sophistication, which is now possible with the growing number of state-of-art hospitals in the country,'' says MD, Apollo Hospitals, Dr Yogi Mehrotra. Dr Rupinder Singh, who gave up 12 years in the US to work as head of emergency care at Fortis and Dr Nirmal Joshi, who put 15 years in the US behind him to work as medical director at Max, agree. ``I have been wanting to come back to India for the last two years, but didn't find a decent hospital that I would be comfortable working in. The Fortis facility is top of the line. Its like having a US hospital transplante d here,'' says Dr Rupinder Singh. The chance to be a part of a new and exciting healthcare delivery system and give back to one's own country is also a huge motivator for Dr Singh, who accepted almost a 40 per cent pay cut to do this. Dr Joshi, also driven by the need to give back to the country and to give his two children a firsthand feel of their roots, says salaries here becoming closer if not identical to salaries elsewhere in the world, have made these NRI dreams real in today's context.

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