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‘The pandemic may be over but its endemic rate is still high’

Dr. Kanav Khanna, an alumnus of Apeejay, Mahavir Marg talks about the importance of doctor and patient education post the Covid-19 health crisis



Dr. Kanav Khanna

A proud alumnus of Apeejay School, Mahavir Marg in Jalandhar,Dr. Kanav Khanna (25) secured an All-India 36 rank in the UG NEET examinations and went on to pursue his MBBS from Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi. As the top scorer, he credits his school for his scholarly successes in his medical career and for laying the foundation stone for his journey. Currently an MD resident at the PGI Chandigarh Institute in the second year, in an interview, Dr. Khanna talks about how medicine as a field attracted him at a young age when he saw his doctor mother selflessly catering to her patients. Edited excerpts:   

Why did you choose to become a doctor?

As a three-year-old, I saw my mother who is an Ayurveda practitioner working as an assistant in a private hospital. Growing up, I would often cry to get her attention and would want for her to stay with me all the time. But, I vividly remember her telling me that one day, I would know why it is important for her to give time to her patients. Since then, I have been influenced by her commitment and altruism, which is why I chose to practice medicine. My aspiration has been to serve the people.

You have been excelling at academics throughout. Please tell us your mantra.  

I was happy to secure an All-India 36 rank at the NEET undergraduate level. During the PGI Chandigarh entrances in 2019, I secured the 13th position among other candidates. My mantra is simple: I always tell my juniors to give half the time of their preparation to Physics and divide the other half in two sets – for Biology and Chemistry. Throughout my entrances, I followed this thumb rule, and I used to either sleep or study. For two years in classes 11 and 12, I stopped using any social media platforms and avoided being part of any ceremonies/occasions in or around the family.

Your mantra seems rigorous. Why is that?

Well, I have had a huge impact on the field of medicine since childhood due to my mother. My sole aspiration has been to become a doctor and I want to excel at my practice. I feel, when the motive is to serve others, there cannot be chances of laxity.

The nation has faced a tough time in the health care sector due to Covid-19. Were you serving in the Covid wards as well?  

Yes, I was at PGI Chandigarh during the second wave, I saw patients dying in front of me. It was very saddening. Several terminal patients come to our hospital because they are rejected from the peripheries. By the time they turn to PGI Chandigarh for help, it is very difficult to revive them. The mortality rate is very high in tertiary care hospitals, similar was the case here. We catered to patients with very high oxygen level requirements, and despite all, were able to help a lot of patients during that time. It is very unfortunate to say that as a nation, only with the death of so many citizens, we learnt our lesson.

How do you think citizens can help prevent such a crisis in future?

First and foremost, doctor education is very important. A lot of patients suffer due to mismanagement and a lack of knowledge from the doctors. If social distancing and hand hygiene are not practiced, then nothing is going to stop Covid-19 and Covid-19 like pandemics. Ebola, H1N1, Swine flu – all boil down to self-protection and hygiene. Even now, so many people across India are not wearing masks. I want to tell each one of them that though the pandemic is over, its endemic rate is still high. We still see 3-4 Covid patients a day.

Dr. Khanna at PGI Chandigarh during Covid-19 postings

Were you/your family infected during that time?

I was infected during these Covid duties. My colleagues, batch mates and family were all infected but they thankfully recovered. Fortunately, I had a Covid flu-like illness and no other symptoms of pneumonia.

How have the values learnt at school helped you in your career?

At school, my teacher used to tell me, ‘Kanav, you have to be like a horse with a tunnel-vision, you must focus on your target and avoid distractions.” This has stayed with me and I owe my success to all my school teachers.

What is your current focus?

At present, I am balancing being a student as well as a doctor. I am seeing patients and learning a lot from them. As I am soon to become a physician, I would be pursuing a super specialty in endocrinology going forward. 

Mrini Devnani is a Principal Correspondent and Marketing Coordinator at Newsroom. She covers student achievements, conducts interviews, and contributes content to the website. Previously, she served as a Correspondent specialising in Edu-tech for the India Today Group. Her skill areas extend to Social Media and Digital Marketing. For any inquiries or correspondence, you can reach out to her at [email protected].