A Step Forward For Relevant Medical Education In India

In this article we sheds light on the current medical education trends being followed in India, and the ways to revamp the methodologies of imparting medical education for the betterment of medicine industry.

Medical Education

In today’s world, there is need to tailor the way basic medical education and training is imparted. This should be done with an aim to:

  • Develop a generation of medical professionals to meet the requirements posed by the booming Indian population
  • Recognize and manage the common health issues
  • Train the professionals in a way that they keep abreast of all types of updates and advances in the field of medicine.
  • Follow genuine ethical practices.

The system now falls far short of these objectives and thus creates a state of irrelevancy of medical education in India. Here are some of the recommendations by the World Health Organisation for “Reorienting the medical education”, which can be achieved by following an educational model. However, even after more than twenty years of the proposal, only superficial changes have been made, and the trainings imparted to the students remain inadequate to meet the growing health needs of the population.

Maintaining the Educational Standards and Setting

In India, there is tradition of medical colleges and hospitals working in close association with each other. A perfect example explaining this would be the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS, Delhi), which is the top ranking medical institute in India and is known for offering a myriad of medical facilities. However, there are a number of other medical colleges and hospitals, which work as primary medical units and thus lower the standards of education and medical care. Such medical colleges in India need to be modeled in a manner that they meet the upgrading standards of quality of education and provide excellent medical facilities, particularly, the tertiary medical facilities.

The Curriculum

In Indian context, the quality of education depends on the medical college setting and different specialties. The specific courses demand a defined level of expertise, with focus on meeting the standards of medical education. The departments, which fail to develop simple and relevant guidelines for the management of local medical issues, need to re-look their medical curriculum and better come out of the colonial inappropriateness. There is need to discuss the aspects of clinically relevant basic science education and introduce new ways to impart knowledge.

Knowledge, Skill and Confidence

Most of the medical colleges take care of the way they transmit information to the students. Though a number of new subjects have been added to the curriculum, still there are limited resources to help in the acquisition of skills. The current educational model stresses on arriving at a clinical diagnosis, which needs to be changed and a hands-on approach for the patient management is required. It is a common trend in India to adopt superficial and theoretical approach, and this condition fails to let students emerge as competent doctors. Take the case of internships, which is mostly divided in brief and short periods and are devoted for multi-specialty. Such an approach does not allow the students to learn the intricacies of the subject, which are trying to specialize in. The population is aware of the lack of skilled and specialist doctors in the country and thus has to struggle in approaching the best panel of doctors. Besides, the longer training sessions and specialization in urban-based tertiary centers make the doctors unsuitable to work in rural and semi urban health facilities.

Need for Role Models and Mentors

In every domain, the young students consider their seniors as their role models and the faculties as their mentors, and it is the case with the medical students as well. They follow the same pathway, which are being followed by their role models and mentors. Thus, there arises the need to establish examples by focusing more on rural and underprivileged set ups than in urban health care facilities.

Knowledge, Data and Official Policy

There is need for the Indian medicine practitioners to seek some information and knowledge from the western countries, where they focus mainly on research and development. In India, research is believed to be a luxury, which can not be afforded. The lack of information about clinical research in India and the less involvement of leaders contribute to the lack of research activities and the field of research remains ignored.

There is a remarkable difference difference between what the official perception is and what the reality is, which makes teaching medicine difficult! Teachers are in the state of dilemma that whether to quote official data and policy, or prepare students more towards grounded realty than preparing them for examinations.

THE WAY FORWARD

The levels of medical education can only be raised when the basics of education is revamped. Just clearing the examinations will not have any impact on the quality of basic doctors. There is need to focus more on clinical medicine and the related research. The introduction of patient and community-centred approach, and the step towards achieving increased ratio of doctors and patients in India would certainly raise the bar of medical standards in the country.