Private Medical Colleges and Teaching in India

( from the CNNIBN website)

This is reblogged from the newsletter. It speaks volumes about the state of medical education in India

Why private medical colleges should win the NEET case
Dr K R Kone (A Private Medical College Teacher)

I want the NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) fiasco to be over early. I have so much stakes in this that I demand the honourable Supreme Court to validate the truism that justice is blind and wear its blind mask even tighter to give a judgment in favour of private medical colleges. This is a sincere request from a teacher in one of the private medical colleges.

Let me explain why:

1. Our salaries became static because of NEET but our bosses are profiting a lot. If the NEET issue keeps on burning, the private medical colleges show the scare of the exam and drive all the petrified mediocre students to pay even more money towards capitation fee. It has already started happening. The MBBS fees increased by 30-45 per cent and the MS/MD fees increased by 50-75 per cent in the last two years. The new rates are here to stay because the bosses have discovered that there is more demand than supply (the market discovered its true price as Adam Smith told). But, the reverse is happening with us in the medical colleges. The management is showing the same scare and stalled all the increments of teachers. If the court gives judgment in favour of the big bosses, our salaries will increase by at least 20 per cent. If the bosses lose the case and have to admit the students on the basis of merit, we also stand to lose a lot. In the end, why should we care about merit?

2. What is the incentive for me to change and start reading all over again when I am getting my due? I don’t understand why the Supreme Court accepted a case in which doctors are required to get a minimum qualifying mark and have to write a single exam instead of going on a stressful all India tour. But, it is good for me – if pay-for-seat students come and join, there is no need for me to revise regularly and prepare for classes. I can teach the same old stuff because these worthy rich guys can’t ask difficult questions and strip me bare in my class. They are happy if I don’t teach and I am happy if they don’t ask questions — why disturb this symbiotic relationship?

3. The days of Hippocrates are long gone… we are living in the age of hypocrites. I don’t ask questions when upper caste middle class rich individuals pay money to reserve their medical seats because I feel that it is their prerogative and their shrewdness is genetically determined. But I ask multiple difficult questions about merit when low caste individuals at least pass the exam and join medical course because you see… they don’t have brains and they crack the exam only because of luck. It is the right of a rich man to reserve his seat for whatever amount of money because ultimately one has to realize that the person who knows how to earn money has the brightest brain. All these theoretical exams are nonsense… the real brains are tested in the social sphere where you have to know how to make money… Don’t you agree?

4. Who bothers about respect towards teachers and dedication and punctuality in the medical wards? Especially when one is bound to pass after paying such large amounts of money, when one realizes that his or her money is used to pay your teacher’s salary; who gives a damn about respect? We have to accept that the art of medicine has changed a lot. We are living in the age of robotics and computer technology — they can diagnose better than the teachers, in a percentage game, yes, but only a little bit… hmmm… a lot more costly. But, who is worried about money these days – most of our patients want instant diagnosis and high tech treatment nowadays irrespective of whether it is right or not, otherwise, they fight with us. We missed the point previously and now we have to teach our students how to make extra money and get back their invested money by extravagantly using these new gadgets. It is the machines they have to respect, not the teachers. I think we have to give some management lessons also to get back the respect we lost… am I correct?

5. Fortunately, I am not asked to appear in the DNB (Diplomate of National Board) exam to get my degree. It is an open secret that the MCI (Medical Council of India) and DNB are hands-in-gloves with all those private colleges, otherwise how can you expect to see such poor pass percentages in DNB exam? The society requires average and reasonably good doctors, but we have two extreme certifying boards in our country. The MCI had lowered the average level to an astonishingly stupid level that even our government’s poverty line looks genuine. On the other hand, our DNB exam fails even candidates who pass from elite institutions (read AIIMS). I think even the examiners would flunk the exam if they were to sit in the opposite chair. The person doing a DNB course is far better than all those private medical college postgraduates, but you see… all those morons joining DNB course don’t have money or want to earn a genuine degree. They still don’t realize that they have to join and pay hefty fee in private colleges to earn their degrees easily. Ultimately, if DNB bosses start giving good percentage, who will join private colleges?

6. I want medical school class sizes to increase drastically. Let AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) and some so-called premier medical schools have less than 100 students per class where some student-teacher interaction would take place. I don’t want to teach at those places. I want my class sizes to be more than 200 so that I need not know about anybody — if the students want, they would listen and if they don’t, they can enjoy in backbenches… who can control a class of 200 or more than that? Even social scientists found out that the ideal size should not be more than 150. The class time would be over by the time I take the attendance. But I am happy — if students are not performing, at least I can give an excuse about the class size.

7. I want the retirement age of medical college teachers to increase beyond the present age of 70 to 80 years. People want Sachin Tendulkar to retire at the age of 40 because his skills seem to be in a downward spiral. When does a doctor’s skills start deteriorating? It is very difficult to answer this because there are two sides to this coin — on the one side, a doctor’s experience counts in difficult situations and on the other hand, the advances in medicine are so rapid that it is difficult to keep pace with them. It is true that very few aged doctors update their knowledge. But I uphold the increase in retirement age because private medical colleges are working as old age homes for old doctors and giving us a decent salary at the end of our lives. We just have to forget about medical ethics a little bit. But this sacrifice is worthwhile and we are able to lead a happy life. This may make it difficult for the younger generation to progress beyond the present stage as we occupy those top posts for 10 more years. If younger people become the bosses, they may change the department and bring new methods of teaching and working atmosphere, which we may not like. We want status quo like our bosses. In the history of science, all new innovations happened when old generation made way for younger generation and allowed them to grow… but we don’t want change and are determined that we will occupy those chairs for another 10 years, if not more.

I hope the honourable Supreme Court and the MCI take note of my request and allow the status quo to continue. I hope that they would dismiss the NEET exam and allow the private medical colleges to mint money in the name of education and healthcare needs of the society so that “I” can benefit.


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