For the first time since 1956, the year in which it was set up, the Medical Council of India (MCI) has begun a comprehensive revision of the medical education curriculum in the country.
An MCI expert committee is looking at incorporation of the latest medical technology and teaching aids in subjects such as anatomy, pathology and biochemistry at the MBBS level and introduction of new specialities and super-specialities for postgraduation and beyond.
The new specialities under consideration include allergy medicine, paediatric neurology and marine medicine. As per some estimates, one in every three persons suffers from some form of allergy, but India does not teach it as a speciality.
The new courses at postgraduate and Ph.D levels will keep in mind the disease profile of India and the gaps in the present system.
The medical education regulator is also keen to revive the lost institution of general practitioner by starting a postgraduate course to train general physicians.
Work on finalising the new curriculum and new courses is in the final stages.
For the first time, the council is also planning to obtain a copyright for the curriculum — a process it hopes to complete by June 2015. The curriculum will then be distributed to medical colleges, which will be required to conduct teachers’ training for the next one year so that by the 2016 session, medical undergraduates can move away from the 58-year-old curriculum.
“Medical science has made some very important leaps in these 58 years. While doctors do keep abreast of latest developments through medical journals etc — many of them have foreign degrees — our colleges continue to teach an outdated syllabus. Many of the techniques that we teach are obsolete. Even simple things like segregation of physiology and biochemistry into discrete fields is not accounted for at the MBBS level. There are simulators that can replace cadaver dissections at least in part, but we don’t use them.
The new curriculum will incorporate all these things,” MCI president Dr Jayshreeben Mehta told The Indian Express.
The idea behind getting a copyright for the curriculum is that only colleges or educational institutes expressly permitted by the MCI to teach it can do so, she added.
Given the disease profile of India, a priority for Ph.D courses is infectious diseases, as well as cardiology and neuro-anaesthesia, which are currently not available in the country.
The module on medical ethics will be expanded, making it one of the cornerstones of the syllabus. This, the MCI hopes, will go some distance in reducing medical malpractices.
As for introduction of rural postings for MBBS students, the MCI is treading cautiously. While there is a growing opinion to bring it in, there is stiff opposition from the medical community. The agitation in Andhra Pradesh against the state government’s decision to make rural postings compulsory has further made it cautious.
With rural health centres lacking even basic health amenities, it is felt that pushing medical students to work under such conditions would not go down well.