Doctors with PG from abroad can teach in medical colleges

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Physicians holding postgraduate medical qualifications awarded in countries like the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will now be eligible to teach in medical colleges in India. 

Medical Council of India (MCI) has amended the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 to usher in the change which could help meet the shortage of teachers in Indian medical colleges, including those in the state where numerous teaching posts are lying vacant. Till now, those with an overseas PG medical degree had to clear an eligibility test for registration and thereafter apply for a teaching job in Indian medical schools.

A postgraduate degree — MD/MS/DM/MCh — is the minimum qualification required to apply for the post of assistant professor in Indian medical colleges.

While students with medical degrees from the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada were exempted from the Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGA) examination in order to pursue medical practice in India, they were not allowed to hold teaching posts. Now, MCI has allowed these doctors to teach as well, explained an MCI official. 

The MCI's move has met with mixed response from the medical fraternity. While health officials hope it will help them fill teaching vacancies in medical colleges, others wonder why would doctors with foreign MD degrees take up low-paying jobs at government medical colleges. Teaching posts are lying vacant in almost every department across medical colleges in the state. Qualified physicians are often reluctant to take up teaching since salaries are low and there are hardly any perks.

"Those returning to India to take up a teaching job will demand a higher remuneration and facilities as good as abroad. Only private hospitals outside Bengal may be able to afford them," said Amiya Maity, a former SSKM teacher. There are others who believe the MCI move would improve the quality of medical education in the country. 

"Having teachers from abroad will make a huge difference on three counts. First, they practice evidence- based medicine which is the most scientific method and accepted all over the word. In India, the accent is still on experience-based practice and teaching, which is obsolete. Secondly, those trained abroad always audit their work. Also, they are far ahead in communication which is now a very important aspect of medicine. Finally, this new rule provides a much-needed opportunity to Indian doctors trained and settled abroad to return and serve in a medical college here," said Diptendra Sarkar, head of the department of breast cancer, Institute of Post-graduate Medical Education and Research.

Former director of medical education, Sushanta Bandyopadhyay feels that there is a shortage of physicians as well as teachers in the state. "In the level of professors and associate professors there is a larger number of vacancies. If the state government plans expansion of medical courses and builds more hospitas then there will be an immediate need for more teachers," Bandopadhyay said.

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