‘I treat 1 patient in every 3 days’ – Gems of Joka – Nakul Makkar – MBA after MBBS


This is a new series on InsideIIM.com where we profile interesting creatures on the Joka campus. This is the fourth story in this series. Nakul Makkar, a pediatrician by profession ended up in Joka for his interest in administration and management. A perfect example of the increasing diversity in B-schools, Nakul Makkar tells us why Doctors choose to be Managers.

Nakul Makkar_InsideIIM

1) Tell us about your background

I was born and brought up in Pathankot, Punjab. I come from a doctor family. My parents are radiologists & my sister is a pathologist. I went to school in Pathankot till Class 10 and then to DPS RK Puram. In 2004, I cleared AIPMT exam and went to Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, where I did an MBBS in General Medicine. After graduating, I worked as a pediatric junior resident in Raavi Hospital in Pathankot. I also managed my own radiology setup.
2) Tell us about the most powerful experience you had as a doctor.

I was interning in the Diarrhea ward of the Pediatrics Department in L.N.J.P. Hospital, New Delhi. Once we had a 2-week old baby brought in by her mother. The baby had not passed urine for the past 24 hours & had been crying non-stop, which were danger signs for severe dehydration. But there were no other indications for the same. So we examined her thoroughly to diagnose her problem, in vain. So we decided to insert a catheter in the urinary tract to relieve the baby. Accidentally, my hand brushed her ear and her cry became a howl. That was when we realized that the actual issue was with the baby’s external ear where, it turned out, she had an infection.

What I learned was that no matter how obvious the problem may appear it is essential to examine the problem from head-to-toe to find an effective solution.

3) So what brings you to MBA and IIM Calcutta?

During my internship in a clinic I became interested in administration & management as I saw their impact on the lives of the patients & healthcare professionals. I decided to join Health Administration as a Civil servant. I prepared for UPSC exam in 2011-12. I also prepared for CAT side-by-side. Honestly, I did not prepare for CAT as much as I did for UPSC. I ended up cracking both. But I was not getting Health Administration in the IAS so I focused on the calls from IIM C & L, among others, the reason being I would learn to be a better manager in my own healthcare setup rather than working in an unrelated government sector


4) Do you feel that it is hard for people from the medicine stream to crack the CAT & IIM call?

It is not at all hard. Many doctors prepare for UPSC-CSAT, which is the equivalent of CAT for the Civil Service exams. So a doctor aiming to clear UPSC stands to clear CAT too. In fact, Arun Sharma, a renowned author of CAT preparation material, also coaches students for CSAT. The reason why few doctors come to IIMs is probably the competition given by the engineers, who have more experience with mathematics. Secondly, a doctor must put serious effort in convincing the IIM interview panelists that an MBA after an MBBS is an appropriate career choice. Thirdly, in IIMs, the importance of maths in subjects like Operations and Statistics is also a serious hurdle for a doctor to overcome.


5) Have you treated anyone in IIM Calcutta 🙂 ?

Yes. On an average, I treat 1 patient in every 3 days, with complaints ranging from mild fevers to eye infections to sports injuries. I also acted as the ‘personal physio’ to my team in the inter-hostel sports competitions. I also leverage the network of doctor friends I have in Delhi. I keep referring IIM Calcutta patients to these specialist doctors, for any specific problem.


6)What have your experiences at IIM Calcutta taught you vis-à-vis management in healthcare?

Ever since I joined IIMC, it’s been a great learning experience. Sitting in the same classroom with some of the brightest engineers in the country, being taught by the most renowned B-school faculty members, learning about the innumerable opportunities that exist beyond the conventional career prospects, all these things have enriched me in ways I cannot fully explain. I had earlier not even heard about careers in Healthcare consulting or even Investment Banking. These are some of the most valuable things I have gained in IIM Calcutta.

7)So what is next?

I want to find my own niche among the various options I have before me in the next 2 years, like healthcare consulting, healthcare financing and marketing strategy among others. I want to learn as much as I can. 5 years down the lane, I see myself doing reasonably well in my chosen vertical.

 as told to Afzal Hussain

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Afzal Hussain is a student at IIM Calcutta (Class of 2014). He did his BE degree from Birla Institute of Technology Mesra in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and worked as an IT Consultant in Deloitte for 2 years after that. He enjoys reading everything under the sun, listens to Apertura by Gustavo Santaolalla on loop and worships Fight Club. Follow Afzal at afzal.insideiim.com

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