For the first time in 21 years, undergraduate medical students in India will make a shift from a theory-based approach to an integrated disease-based approach with clinical exposure right from the first year. The new curriculum, finaised by the Board of Governors (BoGs) of the Medical Council of India (MCI), will be implemented in medical colleges across the country from 2019 session.
While the current curriculum included physiology, anatomy and biochemistry in the first year — subjects that are known as “pre-clinical” — the new curriculum will start with a strong clinical and community focus. The idea is to teach physiology and anatomy not just as disparate subjects, but in relation with diseases.
“From next year, we are moving to a more international style of teaching medicine, what is known as competency-based education or problem-based learning,” Dr Vinod Paul, the chairman of MCI’s BoG and Niti Ayog member, said.
“It will adopt an integrated approach, so from first year onwards we will start teaching diseases — say about 20 cardinal diseases in the first year and so on after that. Physiology and biochemistry will be taught in relation with those diseases. Clinical exposure will start right from the first year and there will also be community exposure. Medicine is not just about classroom teaching, it is also about how you interact with a patient, your bedside manners everything,” Dr Paul said.
The undergraduate medical education curriculum was revised last in 1997 when Regulations on Graduate Medical Education were issued.
Laying down the tenets of the new curriculum, the foreword says: “A significant attempt has been made in the outcome-driven undergraduate curriculum to provide the orientation and the skills necessary for life-long learning to enable proper care of the patient. In particular, the curriculum provides for early clinical exposure, electives and longitudinal care. Skill acquisition is an indispensable component of the learning process in medicine.”
The new curriculum also tries to marry the government health goal, such as “health for all”, with the medical education system.
A medical graduate must recognise “health for all” as a national goal, learn every aspect of national policies on health, achieve competence in practice of holistic medicine and practice encompassing promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative aspects of common diseases.
The undergraduate curriculum will also include an element of communications, which the committee felt was essential for rebuilding the doctor-patient relationship.