Reforms in Medical MSc courses: NMMTA meets Govt Officials
New Delhi: Seeking reforms in the conduct of Medical MSc courses and the roles of such scientists as teachers in medical colleges, the National MSc Medical Teachers' Association (NMMTA) has now knocked on the doors of the government including officials at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and NITI Aayog.
Issuing a statement, the NMMTA officials informed that they met the authorities and, "Both the officials of Niti Aayog that deal with education and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have assured the association of addressing their concerns"
This comes in wake of the recent controversial move of the National Medical Commission (NMC) to downsize the percentage of scientist teachers in medical colleges. The NMC issued a gazetted notification on 28 October titled "minimum requirement for annual MBBS admission regulations, 2020" and the percentage of non-medical teachers in the three clinical specialties of anatomy, biochemistry, and physiology have been halved from 30 to 15 % whereas the nonmedical teachers have been completely eliminated from para clinical specialties of pharmacology and microbiology. It is to be mentioned that for biochemistry, the hiring limit was a whopping 50 percent which has now been jolted down to 15 percent. Moreover, the new regulations made no such specifications on the ceiling for pharmacology and microbiology.
As per the previous MCI norms, up to 30% (50% in Biochemistry) of faculty in the non-clinical subjects could be scientists with medical M.Sc/Ph.D qualifications. Bowing to the lobby of non-clinical doctors and ignoring the concerns of thousands of scientist teachers in medical colleges across the country, NMC took a U-turn, the association said in the statement.
The association stated that there are no uniform guidelines for medical M.sc courses and the duration of the courses also differs at the concerned universities. Medical M.Sc courses need to be regulated and supervised by a central council, the association has been urging the authorities in response to the NMC decision.
Representing the association, Dr. Sridhar Rao (President) and Mr. Arjun Maitra (General Secretary) recently met key officials of NITI Aayog and the Health Secretary (MoHFW) seeking solutions to their concerns.
"Medical M.Sc courses, which are conducted in the medical colleges on the lines of MD courses need reforms. Ever since MCI silently abandoned regulating these courses, they are now regulated by individual health universities. In the absence of a regulating scientific council, there are variations in these courses with respect to the mode of admissions, duration of courses, dissertation, etc. Also, the curriculum needs to be upgraded with the changing times. Although the UGC recognizes these courses, the education ministry has done little as these courses come under the ambit of medical colleges. We want reforms and regulations of these courses; only medical colleges must be permitted to run them", said Dr. Rao.
"PhD aspirants those who wish to appear for NET examination for PhD are forced to take an exam on Life Sciences as no separate subjects are available for those who pursued Medical MSc subjects. General M.Sc & Medical M.Sc are different as the former is the core life sciences and the later one is specialized to suit the medical field. This puts us at a disadvantage when we scientists wish to clear NET tests for pursuing PhD", said Mr. Maitra.
Key officials of NITI Aayog that deal with education have assured the association to study these issues and address them suitably.
The delegation also met the Health Secretary over the controversial move of the National Medical Commission to downsize the percentage of "non-medical" teachers. "While the NMC is within its rights to frame qualifications, it is the health ministry which must provide its policies and directions. The manner in which NMC has taken this decision without due diligence is questionable", said Dr. Rao.
"Scientists teaching non-clinical subjects, which are basic and allied medical sciences, is a common practice all over the world. In fact, there are scientist faculties in the clinical specialties in US medical schools", said Mr. Maitra.
The health secretary, while receiving a representation from the association, has assured to address their concerns. The ministry has also received plenty of representations from the aggrieved scientist community.
NMMTA is a registered association of scientists with Medical M.Sc/Ph.D qualifications, most of whom are working as "non-medical" teachers in medical colleges under various designations ranging from tutors to Professors & HODs. It is estimated that more than four thousand "non-medical" teachers are currently employed in medical colleges, many of whom will be affected by the new NMC guidelines.
Meanwhile, the association has filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court challenging these regulations, which will hear next on February 17th.