TAKING THE BEST FROM AROUND THE WORLD TO IMPROVE THE INDIAN MEDICAL EDUCATION SYSTEM.
The Indian Medical education system has carefully curated a standardised system of education that has stood the test of time and caters to all undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as those graduates choosing to pursue their higher studies in India. The choices to reshape the medical curriculum have been deliberately and meticulously set by the revered council members of the National Medical Council (NMC), and are being updated on a regular basis to comply to the needs of those students pursuing a medical education in India. However, there are definitely flaws in the system that may be rectified and policies that can be introduced from other countries that may aid in the holistic education of the Indian medical graduate.
Taking into consideration the USMLE standard system of examination, the United States has implemented a system where the entrance exam for acceptance into their highly sought after universities depends on three different phases of assessment.
The first step evaluates the aspirant’s knowledge of basic science concepts and their application to clinical medicine, most of which generally encompasses the material learnt during the first two years of an undergraduate student’s course. This evaluation is done based on a board exam.
The second step assesses the ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and the understanding of clinical sciences that are essential for the provision of patient care under supervision.
The third step tests the aspirant on general topics that are required to understand and practice the concepts of general medicine.
By breaking the examination into three different steps, candidates have adequate time to specifically prepare for each step and perform to the best of their abilities.
The concept of PG-NEET (Postgraduate National Eligibility cum Entrance Examination) defers widely from this approach. The Indian Medical Education System has set up an examination that rolls around once a year, giving the candidates only one shot at clearing the exam each year. It also requires the candidates to perform under pressure, as luck plays a immense role on their psychological state at the time of examination as well as on the set of questions that they receive.
Recently, the National Medical Council announced a newly set criteria for eligibility to appear for the PG-NEET counselling sessions, and reduced the cutoff mark for applications to 0. Essentially, this means that anyone that has appeared for the PG-NEET examination is eligible to apply for a PG seat in India.
This raises the question of whether means and merit will be considered as counselling criteria over the marks scored by the candidates and effectively diminishes the status of marks in the counselling process, which may be detrimental to those aspirants who have put in the effort and worked towards their goal, only to have their dreams shattered by losing their seat to a comparitively more financially stable candidate.
At the end of the day, based on their marks scored in PG-NEET, the candidates are alloted seats in different fields of medicine, and they often end up in departments and fields that they do not have any interest in, but choose to accept due to the societal pressure faced by them to accept the allotment, rather than facing uncertainties and taking a gap year to reappear for the PG NEET exam.
The Eurpoean system of medical education has achieved a solution to this shortcoming. After completion of their undergraduate degree, students are encouraged to work in the departments of their choice in different universities before enrolling in a postgraduation program. This way, the students gain first hand experience of what it is like to work in the field of their choice, and they have the freedom to change their elected field at their liberty. After an initial period of internship, the universities eventaully absorb the well performing students into their postgraduation programs, and those that are declined acceptance may receive a letter of recommendation to apply to programs at other universities.
This method ensures that the students receive proper prior exposure to their field of choice, and secures their interest and nurtures their love for medicine.
As the saying goes- “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”.
Abolishing the entire system of entrance examinations may not be ideal in a country with a population as large as ours, but by implementing a system of breaking up the examination into different phases, as well as ensuring that the student has prior experience in working in their field of interest, we can completely revolutionize the approach of acceptance into universities.
It encourages our medical graduates to develop a genuine love for medicine, and apply their knowledge comprehensively to their day to day practice, which ultimately aids in patient care as well.
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- Potnuru, Basant (2017). “Aggregate availability of doctors in India: 2014–2030”. Indian Journal of Public Health. 61 (3): 182–187.
- Bhattacharjee, Ayona (2013). “Migration of Indian health professionals to selected European nations: The Case of Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden” (PDF). CARIM-India Research Report 2013/07. Page 10.
- “”Overworked” PGI resident docs seek better living conditions – Indian Express”. archive.indianexpress.com. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
- Bhalla, Sanjeev (10 July 2013). “NRI students into Medical Colleges”. Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 11 July 2013.