India has always upheld its reputation as the land of knowledge. In ancient times, people from all over the World travelled to India to study at the renowned Nalanda and Taxila universities. But in the present scenario, the situation has completely reversed. The education system of India has time and again come under the scanner for needing to be at par with the evolving global standards. The medical education system has especially been garnering the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The Indian medical education system is one of the largest in the World and has a broad global impact. The selection of students is based on the results of an entrance examination, which isn’t sufficient to determine the candidature. There has been a continuous demand for reforms in the curriculum for over 30 years now, with calls for greater relevance of the curriculum to serve the community’s needs.
Despite having more than 600 medical colleges, there is a shortage of medical staff with adequate skills. College seats are lying vacant, and students have repeatedly moved to the courts to find a solution to this problem, but no substantial outcomes have been reported. Fresh medical graduates cannot meet the required standards to tend to the country’s healthcare needs. While the government is working towards a solution and targeting to reach the required ratio, there is a need to relook the comprehensive medical education.
The government needs to consider that the number of increasing lawsuits on medical education is an indication of the much-needed transformation. The lag in formal medical education has been highlighted during the pandemic, where we saw the medical fraternity struggling to fill the doctor deficit. The COVID-19 pandemic also disturbed the medical exam schedules. Because of the postponement of exams in 2020, the whole calendar for the upcoming years got disturbed as well. The exam schedule is still not back on track, and the lack of action on this part has attracted lots of questions. The students’ unending plight reflects the poor administration from the National Board of Exams that conducts the test to fill seats in government and private universities.
The gap in digital learning infrastructure is currently the biggest challenge the sector is facing. There is an urgent need to adopt technology and have resources available to facilitate e-learning. Medical research and innovation need an added push as there hasn’t been much ground-breaking research here. The education system needs to focus more on increasing the quality of research.
The focus needs to be put on improving the curriculum to bring competency-based education. Indian medical students need to receive training which imbibes in them social accountability as doctors. Medical education needs to be aligned with societal needs, which differ from country to country. Aside from the unequal inter-state distribution, the concentration of doctors in major urban cities remains a key issue, as 65% of the country’s population still resides in rural areas. Strong emphasis needs to be put on rural and social issues and making students strongly aware of their responsibilities towards the same. India is already leading the global pharmaceutical industry, and rebooting medical education will let it enter the league of leaders in healthcare as a whole.