Are we lowering the standards of medical education in India?

Gitanjali Batmanabane

Medical teachers have been vested in the authority and the enormous responsibility of producing competent doctors. In a sense, they are the angels, who safe-guard the health and well-being of millions of our population.

The decision to permit a person to practice medicine should not and cannot be taken lightly as it has enormous consequences for the health and safety of patients who may seek the services of this person at a later date. However, what goes on in the name of training and in examinations during the medical course is pretty appalling, to say the least.

Teachers perceive poor performance of students as their personal failure to teach effectively. This is further complicated and compounded by the administration in private medical colleges which ask teachers to explain why students are performing so badly. Teachers try to prevent these awkward confrontations with deans, principals, management and so on by resorting to the easy way out, which is to lower the bar.

Questions are conveniently leaked to students, invigilation is non-existent during exams and students are permitted to bring mobile phones into the examination halls so that a “life-line” from a friend is just a text message away. These are not isolated incidents in private medical colleges but those which are happening in government medical colleges too with a frightening regularity which is fast becoming a norm. The so called ‘university examinations’ are no better.

The worst deed of all is the dilution in the content of the subject when teaching. Students are only taught “important portions”.

The attitude of many medical teachers who accept examinership and come (or go) as examiners never fails to amaze me. I have seen examiners spend the least time examining students and urging other examiners to finish fast. Each student is asked just two or three questions at top speed and the examiner moves to the next question even before the student has thought the answer through. The main agenda will be to go shopping or visit some religious place of worship or friends in whichever city they find themselves, or catch the earliest bus or train back home.

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  1. The current curriculum of UG and PG i.e. BHMS and MD, which is proposed and recommended by the Central Council of Homœopathy CCH for the study of students, is fundamentally inharmonious in nature. The knowledge of the subjects in question and studies thereof, which are thought in the course, is not compatible with each other. I can’t understand why Homœopaths of Asian origin, especially of India, cannot look ahead of Hahnemann. Suppose if any physician presently got the knowledge that equals to the Hahnemann; still he has to breathe in 18th-19th centuries. He shall have no knowledge of the even cell, immunity, metabolism or bacteria etc. If he will write anything, certainly he will quote like Hahnemann in his text. On account of lack of up-gradation of ‘Organon’, it is taught as per understandings of 18th-19th century; whilst other subjects are taught in their most updated form. It generates a lot of confusion in the mind of pupils. In the classroom of ‘Organon’, the teacher, as per guidelines of CCH, taught/give the conceptual (intangible) understanding of the diseases and cure; whereas teacher of the pathology tries to impart the most accepted basis of the diseases and cure; i.e. cellular and genetic basis of the diseases and cure. It’s like story of such a school, where one teacher teaches robbery is an evil and sin; it should not be done; whilst in the other classroom, other one says that, if anything is of our use, there is no harm in plundering it. The meaning of the education has been lost somewhere in the race of money-making. Now, on the name of education only information is feed up. But, at least some values must be very genuinely preserved.

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