Paramedical education in India is highly disorganised. According to a report by the Planning Commission of India, the country needs as many as six lakh doctors, 10 lakh nurses and huge numbers of paramedics. In fact, in primary healthcare centres (PHCs) alone, there is a shortage of 54,037 specialists and paramedical staff.
As Dr Pradeep Bhardwaj, a medical expert and visiting professor at Harvard, IIM-A, ISB, among others, points out, “In India, as is the case in many other countries, the doctor is supreme, and paramedical staff are not given as much importance. There is no regulatory body as far as paramedical education in India goes; so most of the staff are trained on the job.”
Internationally, too, there are not many countries that have recognised full-time courses or training modules for paramedics. In Canada, as Marc Bavin, associate director, strategic partnerships and international student initiative, The University of British Columbia (UBC), explains, the rules and regulations vary with provinces. “There are no specific standards that govern paramedical education in the country. For instance, many community and technical colleges offer certificate or diploma courses in paramedical sciences. While in British Columbia, these courses range from six months to 11 months, in Ontario, colleges offer two to four year courses. All paramedical staff come under the Paramedic Association of Canada,” he says. Since students pursuing medical sciences in Canada have to do their pre-med before joining a medical school, they get a basic training across most medical and paramedical disciplines.
According to a Reader’s Digest Annual Poll of most trusted brands in Australia and New Zealand (2013 and 2014), paramedics came second, right after fire fighters. The Council of Ambulance Authorities (CAA), a professional body for ambulance services in Australia and New Zealand, has established the Paramedic Education Programmes Accreditation Scheme to ensure that graduates meet education and training standards for employment with Australian and New Zealand ambulance services. The website (http://www.caa.net.au/) lists some universities that offer fully-accredited paramedical courses such as bachelor of health science, emergency health, clinical practice, to name a few.