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National MSc Medical Teachers Association protests against new NMC guidelines

The agitating members have submitted a memorandum to the health ministry seeking rollback of the guidelines, representation in the NMC, formation of a council, ending “academic apartheid”, promotion of research, PhD and post-doctoral fellowships in medical colleges among others.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
March 21, 2021 11:14:15 am
The teachers with Medical MSc/PhD qualifications are agitated

The National MSc Medical Teachers Association (NMMTA) on March 20 launched a nation-wide agitation against the new guidelines from National Medical Commission (NMC) concerning the appointment of Medical MSc/PhD teachers in medical colleges.

NMMTA is a national association of persons with Medical MSc qualifications. There are over 2,000 members from 27 states and UTs, which also include students. It is estimated that around 7,000 such faculties are working in medical colleges. The association has already filed a writ petition in Delhi High Court against the NMC. The hearing will continue in July.

The association has formally filed an appeal with the NMC under the relevant sections of the NMC Act, 2019. The agitating members have submitted a memorandum to the health ministry seeking rollback of the guidelines, representation in the NMC, formation of a council, ending “academic apartheid”, promotion of research, PhD and post-doctoral fellowships in medical colleges among others.

As per the erstwhile Medical Council of India’s (MCI) Teachers Eligibility and Qualifications (TEQ) guidelines, candidates with Medical MSc/PhD qualifications could be appointed as teachers in the five non-clinical specialities to the extent of 30 per cent (50 per cent in Biochemistry) of the total faculty strength. NMC was expected to carry forward the MCI’s guidelines. The draft released for public feedback by NMC was in tune with the MCI norms. However, when the finalized norms were published through a gazetted notification, the permissible percentage was halved to 15 per cent in Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry and completely removed for Pharmacology and Microbiology disciplines.

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In a FAQ subsequently released by the NMC, it was clarified that the said notification would apply to new medical colleges starting 2021-22 MBBS batch. At the same time, the guidelines would apply to the existing medical colleges that would seek to enhance MBBS seats. Also, all new appointments in old and new medical colleges alike would be as per the new norms.

The teachers with Medical MSc/PhD qualifications are agitated. Over 150 such teachers and students pursuing Medical M.Sc courses from medical colleges across India had converged at the national capital to protest these guidelines and demanded an immediate restoration of the previous MCI norms.

“With the new guidelines in place, the current faculties, especially in Pharmacology and Microbiology, would be forced to remain in the same job. One will have to remain in the same college until retirement, is sacked or forced to leave as all doors for appointments in other medical colleges have been closed. One will not be able to move to other locations for career or personal reasons. With no other prospects, these faculties could be subjected to a variety of harassments and denials of opportunities including promotions or salary hikes. This would be a serious human rights violation”, said Dr. Sridhar Rao, President of the association in a statement issued today

“Hundreds of such teachers are currently working on tenure or contract basis. Medical colleges are refusing to continue or renew their services citing the new guidelines. All of them would be rendered jobless. NMC’s statement that existing faculties wouldn’t be affected is untrue. Tutors, who have already put in four years are being denied promotions. A couple of teachers have already been sacked”, said Arjun Maitra, General Secretary of NMMTA.

“Over a thousand students, who are pursuing their 3-year Medical MSc courses in the 35-odd medical colleges across India, hoping to have a career in medical education have their opportunities vanished even before they complete their study”, said Dr Ayan Das, Joint Secretary representing Delhi.

The statement pointed out that even in other countries, non-doctors are appointed as teachers in non-clinical subjects. In the US medical schools, about 26 per cent of all teachers are non-doctors, it said.

“We are an important stakeholder in medical education and have been rendering our services for decades in medical education and diagnostic laboratories. Overnight reduction and cessation without due consultation or considerations are improper”, added Dr Rao.

“Despite several representations and memoranda to the NMC explaining why the move is flawed, there has been no response. While we were able to meet the health secretary, NMC has neither replied nor agreed to meet us. There is panic and anxiety among our members as they are being denied promotions, extensions or opportunities to apply for teaching jobs. An unresponsive NMC is only adding to our miseries. With no option left, we are forced to protest,” he said.

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