M.Sc courses conducted by medical colleges on the lines of MD courses: NMMTA calls for reforms

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New Delhi: National M.Sc Medical Teachers’ Association (NMMTA) has expressed serious concern after the National Medical Commission excluded non-medical teachers from the paraclinical specialties of Pharmacology and Microbiology in its latest guidelines.

The National M.Sc Medical Teachers’ Association (NMMTA) has sought reforms in Medical M.Sc courses.
Officials from the government have assured the association that concerns raised will be addressed.

India’s clinical scientists with medical M.Sc postgraduate degrees are now facing an existential crisis of the highest magnitude. A hostile MCI-turned-NMC and an indifferent government that is rife with policy paralysis are making matters worse. Those pursuing medical M.Sc courses in medical colleges are trained and skilled to render their services as consultants in diagnostic laboratories, teachers in the non-clinical disciplines of the medical curriculum and scientists in research establishments. Shrinking job opportunities and intensive lobbying have resulted in incorrect portrayal of these courses and denial of opportunities in the area of their expertise. Medical M.Sc courses were included in the First Schedule to the Indian Medical Council Act (1956); yet the MCI refused to regulate these courses. The practice of seeking MCI’s approval to start medical M.Sc courses by the medical colleges have stopped since the 1980s. Registration of such degree holders too have been discontinued by the MCI. Neither the health ministry nor the HRD ministry have any clue on the conduct of these courses. There is no professional council to regulate these courses or register the degree holders. – NMMTA

NMMTA President Dr Sridhar Rao has underscored Medical M.Sc courses that are conducted in the medical colleges on the lines of MD courses need immediate reforms.

Ever since MCI abandoned regulating the MSc courses conducted by medical colleges, they are now being 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, there is need to upgrade and universalise the curriculum. Although the UGC recognises these courses, the concerned 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 the NMMTA President.

“Ph.D. aspirants those who wish to appear for NET examination for Ph.D are forced to take an exam on Life Sciences as no separate subjects are available for those who pursue 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 Ph.D”, said Arjun Maitra, Secretary, NMMTA.

An NMMTA delegation met the UNION Health Secretary over the controversial move of the National Medical Commission to downsize the percentage of “non-medical” teachers. 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 has taken a U-turn. Agitated, the scientist teachers have approached the ministry. “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 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.

The association has filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court challenging these regulations. The next hearing in this matter is on 17 February.

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