Instead of dissolving the Medical Council of India (MCI), the government must look at other issues affecting medical education in the country. Dr KK Aggarwal, national president elect, Indian Medical Association (IMA), says, “Curriculum design and update in a time-bound manner based on the perceived needs of the country and global trends is necessary. Putting a robust faculty development programme in place is also required besides monitoring conduct of examinations. A national pool of teaching faculty needs to be created while putting in place a choice-based credit system in medical education with transferable credits,” he says.
Having multiple exams to admit students at various levels of medical education must also be done away with, say experts. “An exit exam for medical graduates will help students in a big way. NEET has been introduced and it is a move in the right direction,” says Dr Arun Aggarwal, former president, Delhi Medical Council and professor of excellence, Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi.
In the draft National Medical Commission Bill considered by the NITI Aayog, an exit exam has been proposed for the undergraduate level. It is expected to help as a method for quality certification of graduating doctors.
Students and young doctors believe that the authorities must first match the demand and supply of healthcare professionals. “We are still following the old pattern of medical education. The healthcare delivery system in India is poorest among all developing countries. We have 462 medical colleges with 63,535 seats producing around 60,000 doctors each year and 25,577 PG seats with 14,000 clinical seats and the rest are non-clinical and pre-clinical seats. In a country of 1.25 billion population, producing 60,000 MBBS doctors and around 14,000 clinical specialists and even fewer super specialists is the real problem. More than half of the MBBS doctors after getting their degree start preparing for PG entrance but with fewer seats at the PG level, less than one-third qualify. The rest prepare again and this number is increasing year-on-year. The authorities and government must take steps to improve this UG-PG ratio.
There has also been a lot of debate on rural postings of doctors with bodies such as IMA suggesting some changes in the scheme. “The policy of incentives for the rural postings in terms of accruable 10% marks for each year of postings subject to a maximum of 30% marks for admission to PG course is a good and desirable scheme. If rural posting is introduced during PG studies, it should not result in extension of the period of study. Further, in case the rural postings are provided during the PG period of study, their academic computation should be well-defined with desired specifics,” says Dr KK Aggarwal.
To encourage doctors working in remote and difficult areas, the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations 2000 provide 50% reservation in postgraduate diploma courses for medical officers in the government service, who have served for at least three years in remote and difficult areas; and incentive at the rate of 10% the marks obtained for each year in service in remote or difficult areas as up to the maximum of 30% of the marks obtained in the entrance test for admissions in PG medical courses.
Read more: Is that a NEET idea?