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Interview with former Vice Chancellor of Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences, Dr. I.V. Rao

1. How do you view the medical education in India?
The Medical Education in India is at cross roads. There is a growing perception that today’s medical graduate is not equipped to tackle common medical problems. At the same time efforts are being made to bring the doctor population ratio to 1:1000 from present 1:1500. Therefore a balance has to be struck between the quality of doctors and quantity to be produced. The medical curriculum has to be revised and implemented effectively to achieve this objective which is well enunciated in MCI document - Vision 2015.

2. How should a student plan his career during his studies?
The Medical students who enter the Medical School should have the attitude, interest, commitment and the motive to service to the ailing public with patience, compassion and empathy. They should have high goals of becoming a Super specialist and work hard from day one to achieve this objective. There is no short cut to become an efficient and successful doctor other than sheer hard work.

3. What qualities, attitude and skills should a medical student develop during his/her course of study as he/ she needs to interact with the public?
The student must also develop communication skills to interact with patients and their relatives to inform them the gravity of the illness, the procedure being followed in evaluating the illness and treatment protocol to be adopted, giving them the complete insight into the prognosis of the condition and possible complications that might arise at times, which even lead to loss of life.

4. Do you think that the infrastructure and lab facilities in colleges need to be improved?
Medical technology is constantly changing and newer diagnostic tools and interventions are revolutionizing the medical practice. Hence, there is a constant need to upgrade the infrastructure and other lab facilities.

5. There is a severe shortage of doctors, nurses and pharmacists in India. Despite that, why the Government is not encouraging new medical colleges?
The Government is certainly looking into this matter and states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and West Bengal which have very few medical colleges were told to establish more medical colleges either in the Government sector or through Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode by the Union Government.

6. The medical education has lost its charm which it previously had. What are the reasons for this situation?
Earlier, a doctor would treat entire family, who would take care of the health needs of all the family members and was considered as a friend, philosopher and guide by the families. Doctors were adored and treated like God as they had the total commitment to the welfare of the families they were looking after. Presently, the doctors are more focused on obtaining a PG qualification to become a specialist or Super Specialist and dealing with patients without any personal rapport with them.

7. The doctors are not getting the salaries that they seek despite their hard work. What measures should be taken to improve this situation?
The salaries have increased considerably with implementation of UGC scales and the Government Doctors are also allowed practice privately outside hospital hours. There should not be any discontent in this regard.

8. The interest shown by the students for opting medical education has been dwindling when compared to other professions like engineering thanks to their short period of study and high packages. What measures shall be taken to reinstate the glory of medical degrees?
It is true that Medical education is long-drawn-out and takes at least a decade for a student to become full pledged doctor unlike in engineering, where they start earning and get settled in life in half the time. But the medical profession is for youngsters who are committed to the values of service and to provide relief to the suffering.

9. There is no proper management / NRI quota admission process in terms of fee structure? What measures should be taken by the Government to streamline management quota admissions?
The management quota admission process and fee structure is being examined at various levels and is yet to be finalized.

10. In foreign countries like USA, it is easier to get a medical seat but difficult to complete the course. In India, it is difficult to get a seat but easier for most of the students to complete the course in time. Does the curriculum need to be changed?
It is not true that it is easy to get a medical seat in USA and other countries. It is difficult to get into residency in US but once the students starts the residency and works hard he will surely get fellowship in a specialty or super specialty. The same is the case in our academic programme too.

11. When there is ambiguity in getting a seat in Medical College, what alternatives the students have?
There are several options for BiPC stream students to become a doctor apart from Medicine. They can choose Dental and Ayush courses, Agricultural B.Sc. or Veterinary Sciences which also have good career prospects.

12. Now a days, students are opting for MBBS in foreign countries - How do you rate medical education in other countries?
Medical education (MBBS) in foreign countries like China, Russia and Ukraine etc., is totally theory oriented as they do not interact with patients and learn clinical medicine as our students do. They need to develop their clinical skills once they are registered in the Medical Council as Interns. United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), and Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) of the UK are very good options for students who wish to go abroad. Our students with proper coaching have done very well in these examinations and performing well in US and UK.

13. Though allied fields like Pharma and Biotech are treated as the best career options for BiPC students, there are no jobs for majority of the students. Your opinion on these fields?
Pharma and Bio Technology are allied fields and students who finish these courses must try to upgrade their qualification. Then only they can fit themselves for the opportunities either in the Pharma industry or in Research or as Faculty in various institutions.

14. Your advice for medical aspirants?
Finally, I would like a young student to join medical college if only he has the strong desire to become a doctor enduring the hard work involved in a prolonged programme and the motto of service to serve the ailing public. In this process, he/she must strive hard to acquire the clinical skills, to become proficient in interventions with judicious use of treatment protocols and finally to develop good communication skills with patients while following ethical values in the practice of medicine.
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Interview with the Vice Chancellor of Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences Dr. I.V. Rao
Published on 6/17/2013 3:59:00 PM

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