MBBS course duration can be reduced: Ved Prakash Mishra
Ved Prakash Mishra is chairman, academic council, Medical Council of India. Speaking with PG Times, Mishra discussed stepping up the quality of Indian medical education, reducing the duration of the MBBS course — and how students' practical exposure can be improved:
What is the first step towards improving Indian medical education?
Well, my first aim is to bring our curriculum and clinical education at par with world standards, especially the five major English-speaking countries, USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore. Their students have entry to PG or super-specialisation in our country, but it's not vice-versa since 2009.
So, i want to bring the Indian curriculum to world-level and ensure our students too can take up post-graduation or super-specialisation in any of these countries after their MBBS.
How can this be done?
We have identified four areas . These are restructuring the undergraduate curriculum on a competency-based model, adopting an integrated mode of teaching, converting teaching into a modular basis and making the entire system credit-based.
What does the competency-based model mean?
The approach is that after a graduate passes the MBBS course, we look at the competencies the student is expected to be incorporating. This will require an integrated teaching approach, not the existing segmented approach. I'll give an example. If a child is taught to measure blood pressure, he should be aware of all the parameters associated with it in totality, all the physiological, pathological and anatomical aspects.
Won't this require major teaching changes?
This will result in modular teaching and evaluation. When we're talking of internationalisation of medical education, why should we not bring in a credit-based system practiced globally?
We can't grow in isolation. India is the largest producer of medical graduates with about 381 medical colleges, producing 48,000 doctors annually. I repeat the need for a competency-based model — only this will be able to address global needs that prepare students to perform certain things on their own.
You've been quoted on the possibility of the MBBS course duration cut by a year — is that likely?
It is a known fact that the number of students opting for medicine is dwindling because of the long duration of the complete course right upto super-specialisation — it takes 12 years for a student passing from class 12 to reach this stage.
I'm suggesting that this total duration be reduced to 10 years. One answer is a structured curriculum. We can introduce focused super-specialisation at graduate level. The undergraduate course can be 4+1 years with internship with a two year post-graduation and a two year super-specialisation followed by a one year doctorate course. This will allow medical students to complete their education in the same time as in other fields of studies.
Wouldn't this impact doctors' clinical expertise?
Not at all — there'll be no compromise on clinical exposure. The reduction will come with early clinical exposure. Students will be exposed to patients much earlier in wards and teaching will no longer be restricted to classrooms from the beginning.