THE continuing growth and development of medical science has changed the whole outlook and face of the profession. The aim of medicine is to prevent disease and prolong life; the ideal medicine is to eliminate the need of a physician and the ideal doctor is a person endowed with profound knowledge of life who can intuitively sense any suffering or disorder and restore health by his mere presence.
According to the World Health Statistics 2010 report, there are only 6.13 lakh physicians in the country against the requirement for 13.3 lakh (huge shortage). India has less than one doctor for 1,000 persons as compared to China (1.4 doctors per 1,000).
According to estimates given by the Task Force on Medical Education for the National Rural Health Mission, in 2009-10 India had approximately 300 medical colleges admitting 34,595 students annually. Now India needs 600 medical colleges (100 seats per college) more to meet the global average of doctors. Moreover, India produces 30,558 medical graduates every year while there are only 12,346 post-graduate seats available in various courses of all medical colleges.
In a recent study, it has been estimated that India needs seven lakh additional doctors by 2025 and an investment of Rs 3,70,000 crore would be required to meet the goal of providing two hospital beds per 1,000 persons by 2025
How to get into the right college
In order to step into the hallowed portals of a medical college, a student is required to clear a tough competitive examination. Taking the medical entrance test, getting enroled in a proper institute for studying medicine, and choosing the correct course are some of the aspects that a prospective student is most concerned about.
It is very important to choose a better college to excel in this career. Choosing the right institution is very important, and different students have different criteria for it. These may include the reputation or historical standing of a college, its infrastructure and facilities like good libraries, highly equipped labs and experienced faculty.
These are the broad criteria that several magazines and websites use to grade a college and this trend of rankings has given birth to the notion that a medical college’s quality can be ranked. But most of these popular rankings do not reflect the general quality of the students who pass out from these medical colleges.
The criteria like government institutions and reputation are, of course, significant but you should prefer those medical colleges that offer job-oriented medical education; have good campus facilities; cutting edge investigations; highly qualified and rich experienced faculty and on-campus seminars.
The opportunity to learn from and be mentored by faculty members involved in latest research can be stimulating for medical students and help them in deciding their fields of specialisation. Students should also get trained in philosophy, ethics and patient management, foray into new specialisations, research and treatment modalities.
It is a heartening fact that more and more colleges now are trying to provide all these facilities and much more. Better campuses, Internet facilities, Wi-Fi connectivity, cultural and sports facilities are some of the ingredients that add an extra punch to medical education in India.
What to expect
The MBBS course starts with the basic pre-clinical subjects such as biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, microbiology, pathology and pharmacology. The students simultaneously obtain hands-on training in the wards and out- patient departments, where they interact with real patients for five long years. The curriculum aims to inculcate standard protocols of history taking, examination, differential diagnosis and complete patient management. A student is taught to determine what investigations will be useful for a patient and what are the best treatment options. The curriculum also contains a thorough practical knowledge and practice of performing standard clinical procedures. The course also contains a 12-month long internship, in which an intern is rotated across various specialties. Besides standard clinical care, one also gets a thorough experience of ward management, staff management and thorough counseling skills.
To obtain the degree of MBBS from the top-most recognised medical colleges of India is very tough even for the brightest of the lot. Moreover, it is not enough to have a medical degree to get a good job and opportunity for career growth. Specialisation (MD, MS) and super specialisation (DM, MCH) have become very important to grow in this field. This recent trend towards specialisation has made the study period even longer.
After MBBS, students can also opt for newer courses like clinical research, hospital administration, biomedical research, biotechnology, genetic engineering and nuclear medicine. Other than allopath, medicine also covers different systems like homoeopathy, ayurveda, siddha, Unani etc.
Government vs private colleges
Another question commonly asked by students is whether to opt for a government or private medical college? Traditionally, medical education in government colleges was considered the best.
The government-run institutes used to score better on infrastructure, had established hospitals, qualified teachers, good influx of patients, and most importantly, lower admission fees.
But in recent years private colleges are doing their best to provide state-of-the-art infrastructure, better student-teacher ratio, and experienced faculty besides having state-of-the-art campus and hostel facilities.
Colleges like Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana, Manipal University, Mangalore, are some of the examples of better private colleges. A thorough analysis of affiliation and necessary certifications is a must for those choosing private colleges as the authorised medical councils recognise a college only after it fulfills the quality education standards.
Best medical colleges in Punjab
Medical colleges in Punjab offer undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate and diploma programmes: MBBS, MD, MS, PG Medical diploma, BDS, BAMS and P.hD because medical courses involves a lot of hard work with academic records and good marks in science backgrounds. Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), Ludhiana is among the top colleges in Punjab because of its infrastructure, experienced faculty and a wide choice of specialty and super specialty courses are available in this tertiary care center.
Other good colleges are Christian Medical College (CMC) Ludhiana and Government Medical College, Patiala, Government Medical College, Amritsar and Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh.
Over 3,000 Indian doctors have migrated overseas in the last three years. Doctors usually go abroad to obtain higher qualifications and training or for prestigious assignments.
The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) estimates that the UK has over 40,000 Indian doctors who are treating about half the population of Britain while the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) puts the US figures at 50,000. About 20 per cent of doctors working in Australia have received their basic education in India, while in Canada one out of every 10 physicians has roots in India.
The UK and the US are the top two destinations for foreign-trained doctors; Canada and Australia are the other preferred destinations. With many countries rolling out the red carpet for the best Indian doctors, there are multiple options available for Indian medical graduates to pursue higher studies abroad. They need to complete their MBBS and then clear entrance tests for respective countries, which may be single stage, or in multiple stages. But steps must be taken by the government to reverse this brain drain.
The ‘other’ view
The decision to choose medicine as a career is not an easy one. It involves spending a number of years to get a degree, develop skills and get settled in the career.
So basically, from the moment you enter a medical college to the moment you finish your training, you’re looking at a minimum of nine years — for most people it’s closer to 10 — before you’re even close to being considered a "real" doctor. And mind you these are not fun, carefree years — certainly not the way most people spend their 20s. You spend these fetal-doctor years indoors working under fluorescent lights, nose pressed into books filled with inscrutable diagrams and endless acronyms.
These are the years spent doing a whole lot of work for little or no money.
These are years of thousands of lost hours spent at the hospital instead of with your friends and family, who always seem to be wondering where you are and why you’re still there and when, if ever, you’ll be coming home.
But still one is happy to be a doctors. First and hopefully underlying all the other reasons, there’s probably the pure and honest desire to want to do good in life and to help people.
Then there is the acceptance and respect in society, which comes with this profession. A sense of giving back to society is always there.
Lastly, the financial remunerations as doctor are good and help in leading a good life.
— The writer is Assistant Professor, Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana