Hyderabad: The last few months have seen ground-breaking milestones in the field of medical education, which promises to introduce reforms with a potential to change the sector, impact students and have long lasting impact on health care in the coming years.
In a month, for the first time in two decades, all the medical colleges in the country will adopt a common ‘Competency Based Undergraduate Curriculum’ aimed at providing orientation necessary for life-long learning to enable proper patient care. Already in the first week of July, the Medial Council of India (MCI), the regulatory body for medical education, was replaced by a Board of Governors (BoG) when the Lok Sabha passed Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019. Decks are also being cleared to introduce redrafted National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill in the Lok Sabha in the coming months.
‘Competency Based Undergraduate Curriculum’
The last time the MCI had introduced a new syllabus for all medical colleges in the country was in 1997. This August, when the first year batch of medical students starts attending their classes, authorities are set to unveil a major reform through a new syllabus ‘Competency Based Undergraduate Curriculum’.
For the first time, the medical graduates will be taught topics like ethics, compassion, attitude and proper communication. Such topics, earlier, were at the discretion of the teaching faculty but now they are part of the syllabus. The new curriculum will also cover lot of ground in Public Health, Organ Donation, Mental Health and Communication.
The new syllabus will stress on ethical values, responsiveness to needs of the patients and acquisition of communication skills through a dedicated curriculum time. Medical students will be trained to effectively communicate with patients and their relatives in a manner respectful of the patient’s preferences, values, beliefs, confidentiality and privacy.
National Medical Commission Bill
The NMC Bill was introduced in 2017 but it triggered massive protests from Indian Medical Association (IMA) which halted its progress. However, a new NMC Bill has been redrafted by including the amendments that were suggested by a Parliamentary panel and is expected to be introduced in Lok Sabha in the next few months.
A major controversial aspect of NMC Bill was the bridge courses, which proposed allowing AYUSH practitioners to pursue a course and then practice Allopathy.
According to senior doctors, the bridge course proposal has been scrapped. The new NMC Bill, however, will propose steep punishment to quackery which includes Rs 5 lakh penalty and up to one-year jail. The amended NMC Bill proposes to regulate fee for 50 per cent of medical seats in private medical colleges, which means the remaining 50 per cent will be at the discretion of the private managements.
To get their medical degrees, the proposed NMC Bill has made it mandatory for medical undergraduates to appear for a national level final test known as National Ext Test (NEXT). The students will not need to appear for another entrance test that will make them eligible to practice medicine.
Another major development in the medical education sector has been the removal of Medical Council of India (MCI) by a Board of Governors (BOG). Authorities are hoping to achieve better transparency, accountability and quality in governance of medical education through Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Act, 2019, which was passed in the Lok Sabha recently.