Published: 22nd September 2023
Debate over MSc/PhD degree-holders teaching in medical colleges: For and against in 10 points
The introduction of the zero percentile cut-offs for NEET PG 2023 has raised the question of accommodating doctors and dwindling standards, but what is actually the best?
A statement released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) yesterday, September 20, stated that the ministry has considered the suggested recommendations for a reduction in the qualifying percentile for medical postgraduate courses for NEET PG 2023.
“Approval of competent authority is hereby conveyed for reduction of qualifying percentile for NEET PG 2023 to ‘Zero’ across all categories,” it added. This means that the candidates who have appeared for the NEET PG 2023 examination will now be eligible to enroll themselves in the postgraduate medical counselling process.
The notice came when the National Medical Commission was granted recognition by the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME)
A few doctors’ associations have welcomed the decision, while others expressed their hesitancy as it is deemed that it would give rise to corruptive practices and a rise in ineligible doctors.
The National Msc Medical Teachers’ Association (NMMTA) expressed their discontent with the decision and has actively been posting on ‘X’ (formerly Twitter). “Why create substandard specialists simply because they are part of your own group, and why sideline scientists labelling them as ‘outsiders’? This unconditional preference for one’s own group is detrimental to the system,” a tweet reads.
The fraternity of doctors, All India Joint Medicos Forum opposes their viewpoint as they contend that MSc/PhD graduates lack the necessary qualification to teach pre and para-clinical subjects. EdexLive spoke to officials from NMMTA, Dr Shashank Kambali, President, TMMA (The MSc Medicine Association India) and Dr Abhinav Rajpurohit, President of AIPCMA (All India Pre and Para Clinical Medicos Association) to understand their underlying stance stated in points.
Why not us? Say the MSc/PhDs. They go on to say...
1) Most MBBS graduates want to specialise in a subject that allows them to continue their practice in medicine. Pursuing a non-clinical subject such as Anatomy, or Pharmacology will limit them, and hence, pre and para-clinical subjects are not widely preferred for postgraduate studies
2) MD (Doctor of Medicine) in non-clinical subjects is a non-practising qualification which enables them only to teach and pursue research. These departments are neither out-patient departments nor do they engage in direct patient care of any manner
3) The qualifications are similar, as the medical MSc course is deemed similar to MD. The spokesperson from NMMTA says that they are trained under the same department, by the same teachers and have the same syllabus, then where does the difference lie?
4) There is no qualitative difference apart from the difference in the nomenclature of the degrees
5) Creation of monopoly with the treatment meted out to the MSc/PhD graduates and they are being treated as outsiders
6) Fulfilment of personal propaganda as the Indian government sees their vested interests. The main motive is the fulfilment of seats
7) MSc teachers still hold the highest academic position in the medical field in India including institutions such as AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) where Dr Praveen Sharma, MSC Medicine was the Head of the Department of Biochemistry and was also the Dean of Research and Dr TR Raju, Dean and Director Neurophysiology at NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences), and many more to name.
8) The qualifications of the MSc medical graduates are not rightly addressed, with an added lack of awareness in the system. They should not be considered withdrawn from the field of medicine as they graduate from medical colleges too.
9) A PhD or extensive research is only a prescribed extra qualification that is deemed mandatory to teach at medical institutions, it is never the actual objective
20) Possession of the knowledge of practising medicine is not a necessity as the subjects that are dealt with are non-clinical in nature, and thus, don’t require this
“Doctors should teach doctors”, say the medicos. Here's what else they say:
1) The medical graduates and postgraduates say that there are perceptible differences between the undergraduate courses they study, where the time duration of the courses is four and a half years for the medical graduates and only three years for BSc, with no mandatory practical training or internship
2) The Medical Council of India has taken no decisive stance on the syllabus determined for BSc and MSc hence, the standard of education differs from that of the MBBS students or MDs
3) The MSc/PhD graduates do not have exposure to the day-to-day functioning of the hospitals, its departments nor are they trained in clinical and diagnostic methodologies and technique
4) Even when it comes to comparing the MD/MS and MSc degrees, the MD/MS course’s duration is three years, whereas, MSc is for two years, wherein, most of the students do not have any exposure to research. But when it comes to the medical postgraduates, they have to mandatorily write a thesis on one of the areas of the course
5) The medical graduates have an interdisciplinary exposure as they deal with different branches of medicine and subjects pertaining to the medical course
6) They are also of the opinion that PhDs have theoretical specialisation in one particular topic only, whereas, super-specialty doctors possess knowledge of interdisciplinary research, are eligible to practise modern medicine and are registered practitioners under the provisions of the Indian Medical Council Act of 1956
7) The medicos have not only experience in teaching but also have detailed information and practical knowledge on clinical and non-clinical activities, whereas, MSc/PhD graduates are ineligible to handle clinical diagnosis
8) They are also ineligible for prescribing or giving advice on clinical tests and cannot coordinate the functioning of the department with the hospital
9) The medical graduates will not only be well-versed with the knowledge but also give a detailed diagnosis with clinical findings
10) They have vast experience in patient care, which is the ultimate goal of receiving medical education, to draw conclusions with the medical findings and can handle critical situations, whereas, MSc/PhD graduates cannot certify any clinical findings
Both sides assert their opinion and want their rights to be instilled and demands fulfilled, but is the ultimate objective of finding the best medical educators and practitioners, being set aside? And what could be the solution?