Medical colleges plagued by shortage of faculty

State government plans six more institutions by next academic year

Medical colleges plagued  by shortage of faculty

Even as staff shortage and infrastructure woes plague the existing government medical colleges, the State government is gearing up to ensure that the six proposed medical colleges become functional from the academic year 2014-15.

 Academicians and doctors believe that starting new colleges while the existing ones are still coping with inadequacies would only dilute the quality of medical education in the State.

As per the statistics available with the Directorate of Medical Education, the government medical colleges in the State have as many as 798 vacancies of permanent teaching faculty.

There are as many as 90 vacant posts in Hassan Medical College, which was established in 2007. Likewise, 76 posts are vacant in Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences, started in 2006. Staff shortage persists in older colleges as well. For instance, 153 posts are yet to be filled in Bangalore Institute of Medical Sciences.

The government has proposed medical colleges in Gulbarga, Koppal, Chamarajanagar, Karwar, Madikeri and Gadag. Medical Education Minister Dr Sharan Prakash Patil told Deccan Herald that they had already submitted applications to Medical Council of India (MCI) in the prescribed format and there won’t be any problem in starting the colleges from next academic year.

However, experts in the field point out problems with this approach. While the government may be successful in establishing colleges on paper, trouble surfaces when it comes to having an associated district hospital with sufficient beds and getting patients.

 “The problem will not be equipment. Anyone can buy and keep it. The problem is getting teachers and patients. How will the students practice if there are no patients,?” a member of the MCI said.

Minimum requirement

College principals say that it is difficult to find experienced staff. Especially for specialisations such as chest, radiodiagnostics and psychiatry. An official with the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) said that to begin with, a medical college requires at least 25 experienced faculty.

“Professors, associate professors and assistant professors with adequate teaching experience have to be appointed. They need to have post doctoral degrees. A professor must have at least 10 years of teaching experience to teach in a medical college.

Likewise, an associate professor should have at least six years of experience,” the official said. Some academicians even felt that the government might have to begin appointing retired professors to fill the gap.

Principal of a government medical college that has not yet completed five years said they would have some problem with their next batch of students as they are yet to fill vacancies for teaching faculty. “Now, the MCI has reduced the number of years of experience to seven or eight years. We also consider the number of published research works of the applicants,” he said.

He added that medical colleges in remote areas, compared to their urban counterparts, were facing a huge problem. “With postgraduation courses becoming expensive, there are not many who are qualified to teach. Also, the few qualified professors prefer private colleges which offer attractive pay packages,” the principal said.

Monitoring mechanism

In the past, colleges have also been found showing ‘fake’ faculty at the time of inspections by MCI. Professor Dr Usha Mohan Das, Chief Coach and CEO of Dr Ushy’s Wisdom Works, pointed out that infrastructure requirements may be met, but “ghost faculty” is surely not enough to train students with the subject expertise.

To overcome shortage of professors, the government recently raised retirement age of medical college faculty members in some colleges to 65 from 60 years, she said.

Drawing a parallel with the scenario in dental colleges in Karnataka, the former dental sciences faculty said, “If the government fails to take immediate steps to curb the mushrooming dental colleges in the State, the profession of dentistry will be in a pathetic state.

The Dental Council of India checks the infrastructure and faculty, mostly appointed on paper. However, at the government level, there is absolutely no mechanism to monitor either the quality of the colleges or the courses.”

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