​Medical colleges in knots over finding yoga teachers

CHENNAI: Close to a year after the Medical Council of India (MCI) made it mandatory for colleges to allot 4% of the total teaching hours to sports and extracurricular activities, including yoga, progress towards this end is glacial, even as the new academic year is due to begin in July.

Unavailability of yoga teachers and no consensus over when to schedule the course is among the main reasons, say deans of medical colleges.

"It isn't easy to find a yoga teacher for every medical college in the state. We haven't found one with the right qualifications yet. We couldn't undertake the recruitment process last year. Hopefully, we'll manage it this year," said Dr V Kanagasabai, dean, Madras Medical College.

The Regulations on Graduate Education, 2012, released by MCI — the statutory body regulating medical education — has allotted nearly 4% of the total teaching hours in the first two years of MBBS to sports and extracurricular activities, including yoga. Under the new regulations, 78 of the 1,880 academic hours in the first two years will be allotted to such activities.

The new curriculum has made it mandatory for inclusion of subjects such as national health priorities and policies, vaccination, ethics, patient safety, healthcare financing and interpersonal skills. However, the course makeover still seems to be at the nascent stage with Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University planning its first meeting to chalk them out next week with the deans of medical colleges.

Though most medical colleges organise cultural programmes and sports events, few have it as part of their curriculum. Some institutes like Stanley Medical College hold yoga sessions regularly but outside teaching hours.

Another hurdle is the tight MBBS curriculum. "Recreational activities definitely help students de-stress, but incorporating them into our curriculum is not going to be easy. We need to make the course more flexible to give students time to engage in extracurricular activities," said director of medical education C Vamsadhara.

Downplaying claims that medical students are stressed, she said most medical colleges had cultural and sports activities, besides voluntary programmes like NCC and Rotract, even without the MCI norm being implemented. "But, we will look at the feasibility of MCI's regulation," she said.

MGR University vice-chancellor D Shantharam said the board is studying the regulation. "We have slated a meeting with a yoga teacher next week to chalk out the curriculum. We should come up with something concrete soon," he said.

Noting that many medical colleges are grappling with a shortage of faculty, he said finding yoga teachers would be an additional burden. "But we'll sort this out once we have a meeting with all the stakeholders," he said.

Medical students feel introduction of recreational activities would be a welcome break. "Incorporating these activities into our syllabus will not just give us a break but also bring out other talents," said a student of Meenakshi medical college. 

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