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“we need justice for the patient” : Dr Purshottam Lal, Board Member – MCI, India

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Dr Purshottam Lal, Board Member of MCI, internationally acclaimed for the maximum number interventional cardiology procedures has been awarded Padma Shree in 1993, Life Time achievement award by Delhi Medical association in (2002), Padma Bhushan in (2003), Dr. B.C.Roy National award (2005), Distinguished Achievement award of highest order by the National Forum Of Indian Medical Association. In conversation with Shally Makin and Dhirendra Pratap Singh, he shares his dreams and aspirations to revolutionize the medical education system 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?

For doctors, it is easy to practice in villages and get experience as there are varied cases to handle, however, very few doctors realise the importance of this. It is a good experience, to practice in a village for an internship and earn good experience. I studied my high school in a village when there was no electricity. When the electricity was introduced in the village, my father accidently died of an electric shock. Due to lack of medical facilities and experts, I lost him. Till today there is lack of basic healthcare facilities in the rural areas. To improve and strengthen our medical system in India we need to introduce a post graduate course, which encourages doctors to visit the villages and practice there for few months. Rural medicine however does not sound interesting to young doctors but we still need to encourage people, to uplift the healthcare status in peripheral areas.

What can be the government’s role in improving rural health services?

The Government of India has taken several initiatives to improve healthcare facilities for the rural population but nothing seems to be working. Healthcare in the country should be given utmost importance. Our Hon’ble Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad is really working towards providing better healthcare facilities, especially in rural areas. The working hours of doctors has been increased and better healthcare facilities are provided today with a lot of intervention of technology. Around 35,000 doctors end up going abroad for their post graduation courses but it is entirely their choice. We still have people, who get trained abroad and come back to serve the country.

“We need to restructure the education system and learn to work independently. The teacher should whole heartedly spread as much as knowledge as they can and give the students what they have learnt from their experience”

Being a Board member of Medical Council of India, please throw some light on the new plans to be implemented in the medical education system.

We need to have two kinds of MD coursesone for internal medicine and other for general medicine. The course duration needs to be of minimum two years. The breakup of the course should include one and half years to emphasise purely on medicine and 3-4 months in paediatrics. The PG interns should maintain a log book for one year, which holds the number of surgeries, fractures and trauma cases they have dealt with. We also need to introduce a crash course in bigger institutions preferably at block level. The course duration will be for 2 years. The advantage of this course will be that the doctors will be dealing with a number of cases and become a multi specialist which is also an urgent requirement in the present scenario. To have a deep understanding of medicine, a one year fellowship is very important for each DM. A person learns everyday and medical field is directly proportional to experience. We should have proper and better regulatory systems providing proper selection criteria and allow practicing independent procedures.

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

I believe that the commitment between the teacher and the student is lacking to impart the real meaning of duty and responsibility. The duty of the students is that they should not resist working overnights. We need to restructure the education system and learn to work independently. The teacher should whole heartedly spread as much as knowledge as they can and give them what they have learnt from their experience. The students should have greater clinical and practical exposure, under the supervision of a senior person. With the help of new technology and innovations, we can bring a huge change in the teaching system. The electronic systems have made way through the years and emerged as a tool to learn in an interesting way. Further we need e-learning to be implemented in all colleges, have log books for every doctor to record his experience; case studies should be recorded for later reference. The student should be made aware of all duties and responsibilities and emphasise on practical learning rather than teach theoretically. This profession needs to be enjoyed and practiced through heart. I would advise the students to adopt the patient, treat whole heartedly and then nothing can ever go wrong. At the end, we just need justice for the patient and for that a proper route for training and education should be imparted.

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