Distant learning, telemedicine to meet faculty crunch in med-schools

Skill labs to enhance teachers’ training and protect poor patients rights also in the pipeline.


Sonal Matharu | August 18, 2010

To find solutions to meet the shortage of teaching faculty in medical colleges across India, the Medical Council of India’s (MCI) governing body has proposed starting of distant learning programmes to fill the gap.

MCI governing body member Sita Naik said here on Tuesday that the health ministry is considering starting an All India Medical College Tele-Medicine Network under which classroom teaching would be possible through distant teaching methods with the use of technology.

“We can share teaching knowledge with the regional hubs through tele-medicine and distant learning programmes,” said Naik.

The MCI may also look at experienced private colleges’ faculty to fill in the deficiency of teachers, added MCI governing body chairman Dr S K Sarin.
To enhance the knowledge of teachers, Naik said that the MCI will soon open five to six more regional medical education units. At present, nine such centres are functional in India but none have the modern techniques for teacher training. She added that skill labs will be set up in these regional centres where experiments will be done of dummies instead of live patients.

“We have to ensure the rights of poor patients. We cannot take their ignorance for granted. For teaching a medical student to draw blood, you cannot experiment on a live patient. It is considered unethical in many countries,” said Naik.

The skill labs will provide an alternative to this practice and will provide continuous upgraded medical education to teachers so that they train students better. But cost, said Naik, is a hindrance.

“The dummies we use in India are imported and are very expensive. At present, there are less than five skill labs in India. There is one in Manipal and one in Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi,” she said.

However, now indigenously manufactured dummies are available and these will be used in the skill labs. The regional units will also train doctors in advanced life-saving methods as they are not equipped to do emergency procedures.

Besides new teaching methods in existing training centres and colleges, opening up of new colleges is also one of the concerns of the MCI. According to the new ordinance, for registering for a new college, all applications should now directly be sent to the MCI by September 30 and not through the health ministry, informed Sarin.

“We face seven lakh doctors’ deficit in India. The MCI will devise ways on how to overcome this without letting the quality of education go down,” said Sarin.

The MCI is looking into the norms of teaching facility, clinical material and infrastructural norms.



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