Rural doctors course from next year

Health ministry gets a go-ahead from high court on creating a separate cadre of rural doctors

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Sonal Matharu | November 10, 2010



The health ministry on Wednesday got a nod from the high court to go ahead with the rural doctors’ course they had introduced last year to meet the shortage of medical practitioners in the rural areas.

The course, called the Bachelor of Rural Healthcare (BRHC), will have the curriculum finalised by the Medical Council of India (MCI) within a stipulated period of eight weeks and the health ministry will get another six weeks to notify it, informed Dr. K M Shyamprasad, one of the petitioners.

However, the ministry has made significant changes in the design of the course within a year. The time period of the course will now be three years with six months of internship in a rural area after completion of three year classroom learning as against the four-and-a-half-year duration of the course which the ministry had initially proposed. The course will be taught in vernacular languages so that knowledge of English language does not become a deterrent for students enrolling for the course.

Students with the BRHC degree and five-year work experience in the rural areas will be allowed to sit for a ‘bridge course’ of two years’ duration to upgrade their knowledge and skills. If they clear the course, they will be on an equal standing with the MBBS degree holders. These graduates will then be even allowed to move out of the villages and practice in cities.

“These graduates can then sit for postgraduation medical courses,” said Dr Shyamprasad. However, there is still no update on how the students will be selected for the course. “The MCI would consult us while designing the curriculum of the course,” said Meenakshi Gautham, the petitioner. “If things go according to the set time frame, the course will be introduced by at least the needy states in the next academic session,” she added.

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