TMMA alleges MSc faculty exclusion from medical teachers programmes at SRMC&RI; institute responds

In an email invitation for the Advanced Course in Medical Education (ACME) session, SRMC&RI has requested the nomination of eligible candidates for the first contact session, specifying that these nominees should hold medical degrees
Sri Ramachandra Medical College And Research Institute (SRMC & RI)
Sri Ramachandra Medical College And Research Institute (SRMC & RI)SRMC & RI website

The issues faced by MSc and PhD medical faculty members show no signs of improvement, as The MSc Medicine Association (TMMA) has alleged that SRI Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute (SRMC&RI), Chennai has excluded MSc Medical Postgraduate faculties from participating in programmes meant for medical teachers. 

The association has also written to the Dean of the institute today, May 21, demanding a clarification on the matter. However, according to the institute, they have never discriminated against anybody but are unfortunately bound by National Medical Commission (NMC) regulations.

In an email invitation for the Advanced Course in Medical Education (ACME) session at SRMC&RI, scheduled for August 1 to 7, the institute has requested the nomination of eligible candidates for the first contact session, specifying that these nominees should hold medical degrees. 

The invitation states, “We request you to nominate eligible candidates (Teachers with Medical degrees only) for the first Contact Session which will be held from 1st to 5th August 2024 (5 days) and intimate them to submit their applications.”

TMMA finds this stipulation troubling as it excludes MSc Medical Graduates. “We are often referred to as non medical teachers or faculties, so, this stipulation is clearly excluding them. They want only MD and MBBS teachers,” says Dr Shashank Kambali, President of TMMA, in a conversation with EdexLive.

The association has also taken to X (formerly Twitter) to voice their concerns, writing, “It is high time #MScMedicalPostgraduates to not shy away to identify themselves as Medical Postgraduates. We encourage MSc faculties to register for these programs as Medical Postgraduates and if denied admission, make formal complaints with all the concerned authorities.”

Long-standing issue
MSc and PhD degree holders as teachers in medical colleges have long faced discrimination from the medical community. Recently, many medical associations have staged protests, arguing that these “non-medical” doctors are unfit to be appointed as faculties in paraclinical subjects.

Dr Shashank Kambali attributes this exclusion to a broader agenda backed by the National Medical Commission (NMC). “The agenda is to dilute our qualification,” he says adding, “They want to reduce our participation in academic activities as well.” He also noted that this discrimination has been ongoing but has been largely ignored by authorities and MSc PhD graduates alike.

The official word

When the university was contacted the Dean referenced two NMC circulars. One of them stated, “In department of Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, non-medical teachers may be appointed to the extent of 15% of the total number of posts in the department subject to non-availability of medical teachers…Demonstrators shall be postgraduates with PhD in the subject to be appointed, and not having qualifications of MBBS.” 

This is from a gazetted notification dated August 16, 2023, regarding, 'National Medical Commission (Minimum Standard Requirements) for Establishment of New Medical College/Increase of seats in MBBS Course) Guidelines' 

The Dean further alleged that they are constrained by NMC regulations, which prevent them from providing ACME opportunities to MSc or PhD medical postgraduates. According to the Dean, the NMC requires only Assistant and Associate professors, categorising MSc or PhD graduates merely as demonstrators.

"We are helpless," he says, adding, "We only follow instructions. However, if you look at our faculty list, you will see that we have always treated everyone equally." The Dean stresses, "We have given everyone equal opportunities. The additional Registrar is also an MSc and PhD medical postgraduate."

A look back

Historically, MSc and PhD medical postgraduates were allowed appointments based on regulation by the Medical Council of India (MCI) in certain paraclinical subjects, up to a maximum of 30% of the total faculty strength. This exception was made to address a shortage of medical postgraduates in these areas. 

This raises questions about why medical councils and authorities discriminate against their own faculty members, who form a significant portion of their teaching staff.

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