Narendra Kumar,MD

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Dr. Narendra R. Kumar Leads AAPI To Stability & Growth

BY AJAY GHOSH


Healthcare has come to occupy center stage in recent times, especially after the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Health Care Act enabling nearly 47 Million Americans without health coverage to buy or obtain health care coverage. Physicians play a central role in providing healthcare services to every individual, both in preventing as well as treating diseases.

Physicians of Indian Origin in the United States are reputed to be leading health care providers, holding crucial positions in various hospitals and health care facilities around the nation and the world. Leading an organization that represents nearly 100,000 physicians and fellows of Indian Origin in the US, and being their voice and providing a forum to its members to collectively work together to meet their diverse needs, is a major challenge. Dr. Narendra Kumar, president of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) appears to be right on task and is committed to lead AAPI to stability and greater heights.

Commitment of team members to work together effectively to accomplish the goals of any organization is a critical factor in the success of the group. The relationships team members develop out of this commitment are key in team building and team success. The cohesive team of Executive Committee members consisting of Dr. Jayesh Shah, President-Elect; Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, Vice President; Dr. Seema Jain, Secretary; Dr. Ajay Lodha, Treasurer; Dr. Durgesh Mankikar; Dr. Kusum Punjabi, YPS President; and Dr. Amit Bhakoo, MSRF President, has proven beyond doubt that it is committed to continuing to build on the lofty ideals of AAPI.

Dr. Jayesh Shah, President-Elect of AAPI, who is also an internationally recognized clinician in Wound Management and Hyperbaric Medicine, wants to see AAPI being "respected for it's service and advancement of medicine." The youngest president-elect of AAPI, Dr. Shah says, "I became a physician to serve and help one patient at a time. Joy of healing some one's wound, joy of relieving someone's pain can only be felt, not described," He wants AAPI to reach locations where AAPI has never reached before. "In addition to the administrative office for AAPI in Chicago, I am looking forward to a legislative office in Washington and an India liaison office in New Delhi."

Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, Vice President of AAPI, is a man of many interests. He combines his passion for community service with his passion for surgery. As a practicing urologist in Orlando, Florida, Dr. Jahagirdar has been one of the pioneers of robotic surgery in his field. As a grass-root leader, he had been instrumental in starting several AAPI chapters in Central Florida and chaired the Annual 2009 AAPI convention in Orlando. Dr. Jahagirdar has worked hard to make AAPI an all inclusive group.

Dr. Seema Jain, Secretary of AAAPI has over two decades of service to the causes of the doctors of Indian origin. She brings in a wealth of experience, and vision clubbed with infectious zeal and unwavering commitment. "AAPI is under strong leadership and the executive team is full of energetic and visionary physicians taking AAPI to the next level," Dr. Jain says. "My role as a woman leader in AAPI is to take up women's health issues in society."

Behind his quiet demeanor, Dr. Ajay Lodha, the Treasurer of AAPI, hides a power house of entrepreneurial skills. As the President of Queens Medical Services, Dr. Lodha has extensive background of overseeing quality assurance and quality improvement. A recipient of many awards for research and development in the New York region, Dr. Lodha wants "AAPI to be a platform in helping our young physicians coming from India to seek residencies and to help them in settlement and to get jobs."

Dr. Durgesh Mankikar, Chairman, Board of Trustees, has been a member of AAPI since mid-1980s. Serving as member of several vital Committees of AAPI, Dr. Mankikar wants to harmonize the relationship between officers and BOT: "To bring our prestige up as physicians and Indians in USA." As Chairman, he wants to "Make AAPI the Premier Indian organization in USA; make every Indian physician proud to belong to it, and have charitable works in USA, the land we chose to settle in."

Dr. Kusum Punjabi, the new energetic, dynamic, and attractive leader of the young physicians group, is the President of Young Physicians of AAPI. As an Emergency Room Faculty physician at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, she is a consummate multi-tasker. Dr. Punjabi wants to use her "skills to improve the image of AAPI and to make AAPI aware of the issues confronting my generation of physicians and those still in training."

Dr. Amit Bhakoo, President, Medical Student, Residents and Fellows Section, pursuing his residency in radiology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Florida, has initiated video teleconference sessions and hopes to obtain mentorship programs for AAPI. Dr. Bhakoo's vision "for AAPI is to increase membership, increase commitment to community service across the United States and further develop leadership and professional programs to enrich the educational experience of many of the members and enable them to further pursue their professional goals."

According to Dr. Kumar, "Each of them has been loyal 'foot soldiers" for the organization for many years. They have brought to the table a team spirit, willingness to listen and learn, and the ability to adapt and change."

Soon after taking charge of AAPI, Dr. Kumar had assured AAPI Chapters and members that "we will put all our energy in the positive direction to restore AAPI's image, improve financial health, and bring unity, integrity and stability to our organization." Dr. Kumar was confident that the new Executive Committee will "work together for the betterment of the organization as well as the members and the people we are committed to serve. Being united staying focused, and make you all proud of our organization:"

On his vision for the organization under his leadership, Dr. Kumar, who has ascended to prominence during decades of hard work and dedication for the organization and the people it is committed to serve, said, "AAPI has several primary goals. We are into education of physicians both here in the US and in India, enabling them to provide the best medical care to patients."

Committed to giving back to the community and to the enhancing of opportunities for the professional growth of Indian origin physicians Dr. Kumar understands the challenges and opportunities before this prestigious ethnic organization. "Our ability to share knowledge and influence the medical world has never been greater," says Dr. Narendra Kumar. "The advancement of modern technology, the quality of care we provide and the values that we support can reverberate around the world as never been before. AAPI has a mandate to help disseminate our medical knowledge, our expertise and technological advances. to the rest of the world, and to India in particular," he adds.

While serving as an umbrella organization for more than 160 member associations nationwide, AAPI was formed to coordinate the efforts of the physicians of Indian origin, currently working in the United States. Headquartered in Chicago, having a strong legislative presence ion Washington, DC AAPI has come to be recognized as a strong voice in the healthcare legislation and policy arena.

Commenting on the steady growth of the organization, Dr. Kumar says, "The organization's meteoric rise from a basement chat three decades ago to become one of today's premier ethnic medical associations is a tribute to its past leaders, a network of hardworking committees, and a constituency of 65, 000 physicians and more than 35,000 medical students and residents. AAPI has become a force to reckon with. AAPI's stellar role has come in for appreciation with the US political leaders and law makers."

"It's been a privilege for me to be associated with AAPI because I recognize the tremendous role that is being played by AAPI in promoting friendship between India and the United States," Dr. Kumar explains. "And we will carry on this responsibility of ours with greater commitment. As members of AAPI, we have not forgotten our roots and are engaged in several activities such as conducting several Indo-US Healthcare Summits around the nation, leading to the upcoming Global Health Summit in Kochi this year that will blaze new trail in healthcare sector in India and will pave way for new frontiers in public private partnership."

A steady source of income and financial stability are very vital for any organization. Inheriting several hundreds of thousands of Dollars in debt from his predecessors, Dr. Kumar upon assuming office as its president had the daunting task of bringing in stability and restoring its image. "The Nine City Musical/Educational Tour by Shreya Ghoshal organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) has reenergized AAPI Chapters across the United States," said Dr. Narendra Kumar, with a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, at the end of the highly successful musical tour across the nation on Sunday, October 7th in San Jose, CA.

Describing the nine-city tour as a resounding success story in the history of this more than three decades old premier ethnic organization, Dr. Kumar said, "Through this pioneering event, AAPI has created a wave across the United States. We have accomplished more than our mission and we are very satisfied. We were certainly able to infuse some optimism and positive energy within our Chapters and members in a very short span four months since the new leadership took charge of this prestigious organization."

The spectacular musical program combined with educational and networking opportunities was organized with the objective of bringing CME and non-CME sponsored medical lectures, exhibits, Gala Dinner, community outreach talks and lively musical nite in each of the nine cities across the country. "Many of our industry partners liked this concept where they could get prime time with a few hundred doctors for product promotion/theater, non CME lectures, exhibits, booths," Dr. Jayesh Shah, President-Elect of AAPI, said. "These multi-city mini-seminars are a novel concept for education and recreation that helped raise funds for the local chapters of AAPI, the national AAPI and the AAPI Charitable Foundation."

"Due to popular demand from several physicians on the need for enhancing scientific component at AAPI meetings and allowing greater number of members to participate, AAPI has pioneered the first series of nine multi-city programs to make it easy for physicians to participate," Dr. Seema Jain, Secretary of AAPI, said. In its efforts, AAPI was joined by the Indo-American Psychiatric Association in America and the Association of Cardiologists of Indian Origin. The Seminars and workshops were led by accomplished faculty of leading Cardiologists, Cardiovascular Surgeons and Psychiatrists.

Describing the process leading to the Tour, Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, Vice-President of AAPI, recalled, "Realizing that it takes a lot of coordination and tremendous effort, we were successful in involving dozens of AAPI office-bearers of various Chapters and Executive Committee members." Dr. Ajay Lodha, AAPI Treasurer and Convener of the NY event added, "Each of them was willing to give $10,000 of his/her personal money as seed money to put the program together at zero risk and no cost to AAPI, while committing to have the funds raised would be given to AAPI, the local Chapters, and the many philanthropic endeavors organized by AAPI and its Charitable Foundation."

Dr. Kumar, while assuming office as the president of AAPI had committed "to bring all our AAPI chapters together, strengthen our network and develop better relationships, in addition to generate revenue for the sustainability of the national as well as local Chapters." This extensive Musical/Educational Tour program has been a step towards reaching the message and the vision of AAPI across the globe and help AAPI realize its noble mission.

"The concept of this program to bring together various local Chapters and its nearly 100,000 members and Fellows closer has been in my mind for several years," Dr Kumar recalled. "Drs. Jayesh Shah, Ravi Jahagirdar and Hemant Dhingra enthusiastically received this idea and the net result of our collaboration and dialogue is the Multi-City Tour."

"Through these musical concerts and educational programs, we have been able to reconnect with the local Chapters and the Chapters have been able to reconnect with the local Non Resident Indian community," Dr. Kumar added. "As a byproduct, we have raised some substantial revenue to benefit AAPI, local Chapters and our charities," he added.

Echoing similar sentiments, addressing a crowd of over 7,700 music lovers in Dallas, TX, Parvatheneni Harish, India's Consul General in Houston, said, "What AAPI has done tonight is incredible. You have attracted the entire Indian community through this highly successful event."

Indian Consul General in San Jose, Sri Parthasarathy said, "AAPI has proved that we are capable of making the impossible absolutely possible." Describing this to be an incredible event in the Bay Area, the Indian Envoy said, "I have seen nothing like this in the past. I congratulate AAPI leadership and President Dr. Narendra Kumar for taking up this challenging and taunting task." "It was a team work," admitted Dr. Aravind Pillai, Florida Event Coordinator. "The sensational youth icon performed beyond our expectations and turned the "Nite" truly into a magical one, despite heavy rains and slippery slopes," Dr. Hemant Dhingra, an organizer of the concert in San Jose, said.

For the first time in its history, leaders of the American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI) led the India Day Parades in Dallas, TX on Sunday, August 12th and in New York City on August 19th, 2012. Applause from the crowds reached a crescendo as the first ever colorfully decorated Float bearing AAPI's name, symbol, and message of health and wellbeing to all rolled on in New York City. Led by its energetic leaders, the AAPI float marched along with a record 70 Floats, saluting India and the over a billion people of Indian origin around the globe

AAPI has established itself as the most successful and premiere ethnic medical organization in the United States. AAPI has worked diligently with the AMA in the interest of its members to limit cuts in Medicare physician reimbursement, and to establish an alternative formula for determining the physician reimbursement by replacing the current Sustained Growth Rate (SGR) formula with something similar to the hospital reimbursement index. AAPI is also working with the AMA to seek federal legislation to lift the Medicare cap on Graduate Medical Education (GME) funding and to increase GME residency slots for International Medical Graduates.

In the last two decades, AAPI has served as a link to foster US-India relations. AAPI's rural healthcare initiative has been well received at the national level in India, culminating in the successful Indo-US Healthcare Summit held annually in India across the states in partnership with the Indian Medical Association (IMA), and Medical Council of India (MCI), with the cooperation from the Ministry of Health and Overseas Indian Affairs. This goal of this Summit is to develop a joint recommendation of the standard of care for major disease states affecting the Indian population.

Another recent achievement is State Medical Licensure Reciprocity. This was made possible by AAPI members in various state medical licensing boards. The establishment of the Federal Credit Verification System (FCVS) will act as a federal database for medical licensure in the US. FCVS has partnered with the ECFMG to share and verify Medical school transcripts and certificates to make the licensure process more efficient and allow members to avoid the hassles of trying to re-obtain original documents from international medical schools.

AAPI Charitable Foundation (AAPI-CF) is the non-profit arm of AAPI, responsible for fulfilling the charitable mission of the organization. Dr. Brahma Sharma, Dr. Nick Shroff, Dr. Rakesh Gupta, and Dr. Madhu Aggarwal oversee the Foundation activities. It runs 15 free clinics in India, which serve a base of over 1 million patients annually. It also oversees a number of free clinics run by our local and State chapters across USA. AAPI-CF is supporting three cancer centers and developed three major trauma centers and a hospital in India. AAPI-CF has also raised funds and mobilized medical equipment and personnel for international disasters including the Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and Earthquakes in Gujarat and Maharashtra. During the GHS 13, AAPI is planning to inaugurate AAPI-AKMG Clinic in Kochi. In addition, AAPI's local Chapters operate several free health clinics serving the uninsured and the underprivileged people across the United States.

Commenting on the Global Health Care Summit, Dr. Kumar says, The summit has been very unique and a truly pioneering effort to address areas of concern which are of significant consequences on health care scenario in India. past summits have identified areas of mutual interest and also integrate advancements of healthcare facilities in India besides ways and means of tackling long term concerns leading to long-term collaborations."

The US is far ahead in emergency care and AAPI would promote it in a very big way in India. Several medical universities and med schools in India are starting a new curriculum - MD program in emergency medicine at the post graduate level to train physicians in this very important field. AAPI would help put together the best possible curriculum, he said.

While the executive body members and local Chapter leaders of AAPI praised Dr. Kumar's leadership and vision for AAPI that had put AAPI on a new path, Dr. Kumar gives credit to the "whole hearted support of AAPI executive committee, hard work of local Chapter members, and God's blessings that have made this a huge success." For more details, please visit: http://www.aapiusa.org

 

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