“The Government is very serious about improving rural health” : Dr NK Mohanty, Medical Superintendent – Safdarjung Hospital

Safdarjung Hospital and Vardhman Mahavir Medical College are at the forfront of providing excellent medical care and education.

Dr NK Mohanty, Medical Superintendent, Safdarjung Hospital, in an interaction with Dhirendra Pratap Singh and Shally Makin, shared his perspective on medical education in India. Excerpts:

What is the present medical education scenario in India?

The present medical education scenario in India is very similar to the British system. In Vardhman Mahavir Medical College, we have 154 seats, in which 50 percent seats come from all India quota and 50 percent for Delhi students. For both the groups, there is a common entrance test. The selection is done by a committee who doesn’t belong to the college. Currently there are more than 185 medical colleges in India which are running graduate and post graduate courses. Under the current undergraduate scenario, there is four and a half years medical teaching and one year internship. We have sent our recommendations to the MCI to modify this rule. According to these recommendations, four and half years’ duration will be decreased to four years and the one year internship will be reduced to nine months. We are also in favour of exit test. 

What are the loopholes faced by the medical education system?

In medical education, let us reduce the theory period and elongate the practical period. Medical science students must have more practical exposure. Youngsters should not be forced to join medical education by the parents.  The students must be given freedom to choose their career. So, there must be an aptitude test. This should be done at the school level. I am sure that good schools will conduct this type of aptitude test. Besides this, teaching orientation should be changed. We have already suggested to MCI and they are trying to implement it. This has already been done in the US.

What needs to be done to bridge the rural-urban healthcare divide?

Sending doctors to remote village where there are no basic facilities is a challenge. There should be basic facilities for the doctors, who are being sent to rural areas. Our government is really serious about improving rural health. Government has already allocated huge funds to improve rural healthcare sector. National Rural Health Mission is a very good step in this direction.  I think that there is a ray of hope and things will improve.  Government alone can’t do everything. It also needs public support.

What is the role of ICT in improving medical education?

There is electronic mode system in our library.  But for the implementation, librarian should be taught about its functioning.  Still, majority of people don’t know how to operate a desktop. Until and unless you don’t get trained on an ICT system, it can’t help.

We have to first understand the problem and then think about the solution. A small country like Cuba has sent an example, and today has the best healthcare system in the world.

Do you think that there is a need of regular refreshing courses for the faculty in medical education?

Medical science is very dynamic subject and our college organises teacher training programmes, continued medical education programms and seminars on regular basis. In medical profession, we should keep abreast with newer technologies.  

Robotic surgery was not prent in our country but now, it is coming up. If I don’t get trained today, tomorrow I will fall back.  After three years, nanotechnology will emerge as an important field. So, all the medical doctors who are in teaching fraternities should be trained from time-to-time with the advancement of technology.

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