“Sow the seeds for a doctor-patient relationship in the degree courses” : Dr Tatyarao Pundlikrao Lahane, Dean Grant Medical College & Sir J J Group of Hospitals

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Grant Medical College is a premier and prestigious Institution counted amongst the best medical colleges in the country.
Dr Tatyarao Pundlikrao Lahane, Dean Grant Medical College & Sir J J Group of Hospitals, a renowned eye surgeon shared his perspective on medical education in India with Rachita Jha. Excerpts:

What are your views on the current format of medical education that is delivered by the colleges and institutes?

Today, the patient has become a client for the doctors and there is a lacuna of ethics among the practitioners. This problem stems from the education phase wherein, medical students are not taught about the communication skills on how to interact with their patients. If we can sow the seeds for a doctor-patient relationship in the degree courses-we can create good doctors who not only have good knowledge of medicine but also have required communication skills. Recently, we are seeing that the medical education fraternity and the government are making efforts to include ethics as part of the medical education.

Reduction in the total time taken to complete a degree course both MBBS and PG will help match with other professional courses as they complete their study within 4 -5 years.  

What is your opinion about medical training in India? Why are we not able to retain talent?

The main reason for the brain drain is the monetary benefits that they get abroad. This can be addressed, if the government gives them more pay and opportunities to work in India at par with the developed world. Many of the doctors have started coming back to down especially after recession hit the developed world. But, to continue their stay the government will have to create the working conditions of similar standards as available abroad. There should also be more of love and concern infused in the doctors to serve their country during their education and training.

By when do you think we would be at par with the developed world in terms of quality of medical education?

With the renewed focus of the government on health sector for NRHM, PHCs, education institutes and changes in medical education policy on the cards, I think we will progress in the next decade to come at par with the global best. Today, although we have the health infrastructure coming up in most of the states, we would need trained human resource to treat patients and improve the quality of healthcare delivery in India.

Rural India, today, faces a serious lack of doctors and healthcare facilities. What needs to be done with medical education to bridge the rural-urban healthcare divide?

Today, there is a huge gap in the number of doctors in the rural areas primarily due to the absence of sufficient salary and benefits. In the developed countries, there is no disparity when it comes to the salary and benefits of a doctors working in a rural or an urban area. But in India, there is stark difference in the job prospects and working conditions for a doctor to practice in the rural areas as compared to metro cities. The government will need to come up with basic infrastructure and upgrade the work environment and remuneration for doctors to go into the rural areas. Also, as the doctor does not get many patients in the villages, the system should be created where the doctor can be stationed at the Taluka level supported with health infrastructure – as the nodal point of practice. Once you have created the practicable and workable atmosphere for the doctors at the Taluka level, they will surely serve for the rural areas.

The country is in dire need for more of specialist doctors as the current ratio of them is one for 10,000 patients and we require 1 person 1,000 for all specialties. There should be an increase in the medical institutes and colleges for all specialty departments to gain expertise and create more specialist doctors in India. 

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