Interview

“Technology can address issues related to rural healthcare” : Dr VA Saoji, Dean – Bharati Vidyapeeth, India

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Dr VA Saoji, Dean, Bharati Vidyapeeth, Faculty of Medical Sciences, has incorporated the skill component in the medical training system of Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed which has made a difference at the institutional level.  In conversation with Shally Makin, he shared his opinion about the medical education scenario in India

What is the present status of medical education in India?

Firstly, the not so dynamic syllabus defined 15 to 20 years ago is still being followed. The knowledge imparted to students in the colleges is not updated and therefore it is too heavy for the students once they start practicing. Secondly, the skill component such as patient skills, communicating skills and behavioral skills are missing and should be embedded in each student to be competent enough. The colleges concentrate on theoretical ways of teaching, rather they should emphasise on enhancing skills and include long hours of practical training. Lastly, medical education needs to be strengthened with a proper examination system. The subjective system does not really fulfill the purpose to examine a student in all spheres of subjects. However, there is a mismatch between the system and curriculum, which needs to be looked at urgently. Whereas, a lot of teaching is done with real patients and a variety of clinical conditions and practical exposure is given to students.

What is your opinion about medical training in India?

Going abroad, for a post graduation course may be a generalised perception to have a better quality of life with better remuneration options. Considering that a number of students try and go for higher education there are enough seats for the ones, who study here. It doesn’t really matter if a student gets trained abroad and comes back to serve his country with skills he has learnt abroad. Doctors come to a profession like teaching by default. We need to have workshops and lectures to teach these doctors as how to teach adults and incorporate scientific ways of teaching. There are programs and fellowships to enhance such skills and doctors should pursue this course. Even MCI has made it compulsory for faculty in India to undergo teaching courses.

As of now, there is a serious dearth of good doctors and healthcare facilities in rural areas of the country. What needs to be done?

It is a huge challenge to all the policy makers and government officials to surpass and bridge this gap between the rural and urban healthcare facilities. The whole process needs to be slowly revamped and requires restructuring at every step. It’s a long term policy and to uplift the rural people, we have to strengthen the basic infrastructure. The whole process of strengthening rural infrastructure is a long term investment and till now the people in peripheral areas have unfortunately been denied of good healthcare facilities. With the advent of technology, we should include telemedicine to receive expert opinion, videoconferencing and much more. Technology should be used more to address such issues and immediate problems and long term problems can probably be taken care of gradually.

How has your college incorporated technology and manages to deliver well trained and skilled doctors to the nation?

I am in a leadership position and I would try to make the curriculum emphasis on skill training, which is student centered. I try to incorporate systems with workshops to teach the skill component and make our education policies better permissible. Our college is gradually streamlining in phases where the faculty is being trained in technological ways of teaching. We are proactive in adopting new and scientific ways for imparting better training. We have digital library being accessed by the students which conducts self study modules encouraging them to study. We have integrated around 5-10 percent  of the innovative process to the system and wish to achieve 60-70 percent in total considering the fact that we cannot achieve 100 percent perfect education system where the advancements in technology are dominating. 

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