Medical aspirants may find it easier to choose a college in the next academic year.
In a first, the state government is set to introduce a ‘star rating’ system for state-run medical colleges, along the lines of the college grading system employed by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and National Board of Accreditation (NBA). While the NAAC is responsible for accrediting traditional degree colleges, the NBA periodically assesses technical institutes. However, there is no body in place to evaluate medical colleges.
According to Prakash Wakode, joint director at the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER), the state will evaluate the academic performance of the colleges and accordingly confer them a certain number of ‘stars’. “These ratings will help students make an informed choice while picking a college. It will also promote competition between colleges,” he said.
While currently, the exercise is limited to the 16 state-run colleges, the government is likely to extend it to private institutes and deemed universities as well. The evaluation may also be expanded to include hostels and other facilities in the colleges.
The government has appointed three ‘star rating’ officers — one each for Marathwada, Vidarbha, Mumbai and Pune regions of the state — who will check the records, collect feedback from students and send their reports to DMER. Subsequently, a panel will measure the colleges’ performance across different parameters and rate them. A fortnight ago, DMER sent a circular to all state-run medical colleges, informing them about the decision.
Wakode said the government took up the exercise because it felt students are spending a bulk of their time taking care of patients in hospital, leaving little time for classroom learning. “The tertiary care hospitals are burdened with the healthcare of the state. As a result, most of the times, the students are working in the hospital, at the expense of their academics. While some colleges take efforts to balance patient care with classroom teaching, others don’t,” he said.
Medical education in the country has been derived from the western system, which integrates theoretical learning with hands-on training in the hospital. Maharashtra University for Health Services, Nashik, has prescribed three hours daily of clinic time for MBBS. Wakode said while post-graduate students can spend more time in the hospital, undergraduate students should also focus on acquiring textbook knowledge.
While the students and teachers welcomed the decision to rate colleges based on their performance, they did not agree with Wakode’s observations. “It’s good to have accountability. The ratings will provide an incentive for colleges to perform better,” said Rekha Dawar, head of the gynaecology department at JJ Hospital and Grant Medical College.
“While it’s a good initiative, the justification isn’t correct. Practical learning is important and it doesn’t really affect theoretical learning,” adds Sagar Mundada, chief advisor, Maharashra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD).