Interview

PG Medical Graduates: National Asset

Dr Abhijat Sheth, President, National Board of Examinations, New Delhi

 

Our healthcare system is at present going through a phase where shortages of doctors and specialist doctors are exceedingly interfering with delivery of healthcare. The GP (General Practitioner) Doctor to specialist ratio is dismal. The crisis gets further compounded by lack of standardization in under graduates (UG) and post graduates (PG) training of doctors. National Board of examination (NBE) is an examination conducting body with prime objective of establishing quality standards of post graduate medical examination.

PG medical education

The post graduate degree awarded by the NBE is called the Diplomate of National Board (DNB). The Board awards Fellowship of National Board (FNB) in various sub-specialties. The list of recognized qualifications awarded by the board in various specialties and super specialties are approved by the Government of India.

The NBE conducts the largest portfolio of examinations in the field of Medical Sciences in the country which now includes NEET PG (National Eligibility and Entrance Examination) in post graduate medical course.

Challenges of the current system

The lack of uniformity in educational resources, low post graduate (PG) to under graduate (UG) medical professional ratio, differing requirements at state health care systems, increasing complexity in the current medical therapies with research and innovations and exponentially expanding technical expertise in the medical sciences all contribute to the difficulties faced by our current medical education system to achieve desired governmental and societal goals to provide universal healthcare to all people. For example low PG/UG ratio drives our young talent abroad to serve other countries despite all hard work done by us at basic medical education level.

The current medical education system faces big challenge with ever expanding private/corporate health care system and marked shortage of teaching talent in the medical schools. Many specialist teaching faculties are lost to private sector in addition to low UG/PG ratio effects main stream medical teaching at medical school level. In line with recent advances in the medical fields we also need to revisit our current medical education curriculum to reach at par with the advances. We do observe conscious efforts from the Government and main medical regulatory board, the Medical Council of India (MCI) but it requires strong participation from all fractions of medical fraternity. The NBE is going to be a vital partner and pivotal with its national presence and universal participation from all its stake holders including private/corporate/charitable/NGO hospitals and other organizations which are not able to participate directly in our current conventional medical school education program. At the same time NEET PG and associated examination is a step forward to address issue of quality and standardization of curriculum of teaching and training of post graduate courses.

Positive Steps

The NBE started NEET PG examination across the country first time in 2017 and this is a major step forward to achieve our goal to address diversity and bringing universal standards for medical education at the national level. We are meeting with some unexpected difficulties but there is a strong consensus within NBE Board, Government and MCI/DCI to create a strong national platform for one PG examination which is a reality now. In coming time the NBE is committed to learn from any of its shortcomings and implement meaningful solution to create NEET PG, conduct smooth, objective and fair exams.

To increase the post graduate medical graduates the NBE revisited its accreditation criteria to ensure proactive participation of teaching faculties from private and corporate sector and other institutions which are not attached with state run medical schools. It is a huge positive step forward and certainly helps NBE to achieve its short term goal to increase current PG seats from 6700 to 10000 seats in the next couple of years. The NBE is working closely with the state government and MCI to start more basic specialty DNB courses that helps regional hospitals and rural areas. This includes DNB Family Medicine. In addition the NBE is evaluating to start more super specialty fellowship courses in consultation with the specialist faculties in the relevant super specialties across the country.

Increasing Medical Educator

To ensure that the quality of medical education is maintained, NBE is looking forward to increase the medical educators by undertaking strategic planning, analyzing and improving systems and process for efficient and effective delivery of teaching programs with appropriate policies to help with recruitment and training workforce in all participating organizations.

Curriculum Revision

While addressing increased need of post graduate medical seats, the NBE also realized to help participating organizations with existing curriculum. In 2018 NBE is planning to introduce externship training program for DNB students and working with ANBAI (Association of National Board  of Accreditation Institute) to get cost effective access to international/national peer review journal to participating organization.

Way forward

The NBE will continue its vision to build up truly expert medical professionals along the country, creating more opportunities for post graduate medical specialty training and integrating innovative approaches to create doctors for today and for the future need of the society.

 

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