New BSc Nursing Syllabus Ignores Disability Rights, Medical Ethics Included
New Delhi: In an attempt to ensure uniform standard of Nursing Education in the country, the Indian Nursing Council (INC) has recently released the Revised Regulations and Curriculum for BSc nursing program and it is set to be implemented from January 2022.
The new curriculum will operate under a credit based semester system which includes several important aspects such as Medical ethics. However, at the same time, the new curriculum is said to be ignorant towards the rights of specially-abled people as it restricts the reservation (5%) for the disability category candidates.
Further, the new syllabus also includes pejorative expressions such as 'handicapped', 'mentally challenged' etc, a guest faculty at Florence Nightingale Nursing School at GTB Hospital has told The Hindu.
In fact, criticizing the 'Discriminatory Indian Nursing Council reservation policy towards aspirants with disabilities' Doctors with Disabilities, a pan-India group of health professionals with disabilities has recently written to the Union Health Ministry seeking to repeal the discriminatory clause e for admission of candidates with disabilities in the nursing profession.
Reservation Policy for Disability Category under INC syllabus:
As per the new B.Sc nursing curriculum, as framed by INC, the Reservation for Disability mentions,
"5% Disability reservation to be considered for disabled candidates with a disability of loco-motor to the tune of 40% to 50% of the lower extremity and other eligibility criteria with regard to qualification will be same as prescribed for General category candidates. The upper age limit shall be relaxed by 5 years for disabled candidates.
Note: A committee to be formed consisting of medical officer authorized by medical board of State government and a nursing expert in the panel which may decide whether the candidates have the disability of loco-motor to the tune of 40% to 50%."
Objecting to this, the Association recently wrote to the Union Health Ministry and also pointed out that the National Testing Agency (NTA) has also released a public notice where it has mentioned,
"Reservation Policy: For Divyangjan candidates: 3% Disability reservation to be considered with a disability of locomotor to the tune of 40% to 50% of the lower extremity."
"The Indian Nursing Council (INC) drafted the revised Nursing Curriculum in the year we commemorated the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth, and despite the passage of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPDA) in 2016, continued with the discriminatory, unfair, and unethical guidelines that prevent otherwise qualified applicants with disabilities from entering nursing," the association mentioned in their letter.
Claiming that INC is 'still stuck up in colonial era' and also referred to a landmark judgment by the Supreme Court in Dr. Vikash Kumar v. UPSC, where the court had stated, "When competent persons with disabilities are unable to realise their full potential due to the barriers posed in their path, our society suffers, as much, if not more, as do the disabled people involved. In their blooming and blossoming, we all bloom and blossom."
The association also mentioned that the Policymakers had forgotten to reflect on the story of Florence Nightingale- who despite multiple disabilities, was a "great example of a competent, benevolent, and productive worker."
"INC must harness the potential of persons with disabilities to boost nursing leadership and innovation, as stated repeatedly in apex court judgments, in order to transform health care. They won't be able to do that without amending the discriminatory admissions policies, which must be amended in conjunction with nurses with disabilities, disability rights advocates, and nursing educators," mentioned the association.
While commenting on the issue, a guest faculty at Florence Nightingale Nursing School at GTB Hospital, Dr. Satyendra Singh who is also a teacher at a medical college, told The Hindu, "It still includes the pejorative expressions 'handicapped', 'mentally challenged' and physically challenged. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act mandates inclusion of disability rights in the higher education. Curriculum also excludes gender expression and identity components which Transgender Persons Act mandates be included."
Inclusion of Medical Ethics:
The new curriculum, however, adds medical ethics for the first time. Dr. Singh, while referring to the issue, pointed out that "The revised syllabus, which is the first major overhaul after 1947, has the word "dignity' in at least six places which is a welcome addition and the introduction of ethics is also an enhanced addition."
Simulation Based Training:
In case of practical, special importance has been given in the curriculum to simulation based training as 10% of the practical are in the simulation lab.
While commenting on the matter, a member of the INC, (Dr) Roy K. George told The Hindu, "So students will go to the clinical area after the compulsory training in the simulation laboratories. Also the gazette does not permit the admission for non-science background students for B.Sc. Nursing program and minimum qualifying marks for entrance test shall be 50%. In the university theory paper pattern (For 75 marks), multiple choice questions have been added."