Friday, June 7, 2019

National Education Policy 2019: Pluralistic healthcare education with IMC Act still in place is premature

The government has released a draft National Education Policy 2019, which proposes to make changes in education including healthcare education.

The policy is in the public domain, with comments sought from all stakeholders till June 30.

A key recommendation of the new education policy as far as medical education is concerned is pluralistic healthcare education and delivery.

P16.8.2: Pluralistic healthcare education and delivery: The first year or two of the MBBS course will be designed as a common period for all science graduates after which they can take up MBBS, BDS, Nursing or other specialisations. Common foundational courses based on medical pluralism will be followed by core courses focused on specific systems, and electives that encourage bridging across systems. Graduates from other medical disciplines such as nursing, dental etc., will also be allowed lateral entry into the MBBS course.  A medical education qualification framework to achieve this will be developed in conjunction with the NMC...”

This means that after class 12, students aspiring to become healthcare professionals will first take up a common 2 year (or 1 year) course of basic sciences after clearing a common entrance test and then they can choose a system of medicine be it MBBS, dentistry, nursing, Ayush, occupational health, physiotherapy, etc.

What is not clear is how students would be selected for their specific system of choice. Would it be through an entrance exam? Would each system hold its own separate exam or a common exam? Or there will be only one exam at this level and for basic course there will be no common exam.
The initial two-year course may enable a student to take up teaching as a vocation.

Also, the terms “bridging” and “lateral entry” have been used out of context here and have created ambiguity and are therefore open to misinterpretation.

There are debatable issues, which need to be discussed in stakeholders meeting and several challenges in their implementation should be anticipated and addressed. 

The above thinking is also premature as the IMC Act is still not abolished. The MCI ordinance is under challenge in the Supreme Court.

A debate cannot be started on an assumption that if IMC Act is replaced by NMC what should be the criteria for education?

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania   (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Past National President IMA

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