If not MBBS, what else?

CAREERS in MEDICINE

If not MBBS, what else?

Becoming a doctor is the dream of many children from an early age. What better way to spend one’s life than by healing the sick and at the same time getting gratitude and respect from people? And unlike earlier years, competent doctors today also earn a good income.

Unfortunately in India, the number of seats available for the 5.5-year MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery) degree is limited to about 50,000 all over India, spread over 400 colleges. Hence, many aspirants do not get a chance to take up their dream course. At the same time, medical studies are much more exhaustive, requiring large portions to be covered, clinical work, and finally, a rigorous year of internship. Hence, many well-meaning students who dream through their school days of becoming doctors, give up their hope of getting into the medical profession and move on to something they are not very passionate about.

Alternatives

But not many people are aware that studying MBBS is not the only way to become a healthcare professional. There are many other options that are also promising and rewarding, and these fields are growing at a fast pace. With technology advances, healthcare is becoming more automated requiring highly qualified paramedical professionals.

To become a qualified doctor without doing MBBS, one can get into any of the AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) courses, which are now regularised by the government and offered as full-fledged professional courses. If one believes in these systems he or she can opt for BHMS (Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery), BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurvedic M&S), BUMS (Bachelor of Unani M&S) or BNYS (Bachelor of Naturopathy & Yogic Sciences). Each of these are for the same duration as MBBS, and are followed by an internship.

There are three-year postgraduate MD courses also in each of these fields. Admission to these courses is comparatively easier, and the tuition fee is lesser. However, a candidate should ensure that he or she actually has faith in the chosen alternative medical stream, has tried out treatment through that method and is satisfied – because only then will the person be motivated to practise that stream and successful in healing patients.

For those who wish to work in the health sector in Allopathic Science, there are options such as the five-year BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery), after which they can specialise in the three-year MDS course in oral, orthodontic, periodontic, prosthetic or maxillo-facial surgeries.
Paramedical courses

These are those degrees that offer direct admission to students who have completed 10+2 with PCB, and no minimum marks stipulated. They are:

Physiotherapy (BPT) and Occupational Therapy (BOT) — four and a half years
Bachelor of Speech Language Pathology & Audiology (BSLPA) — four years
BSc in Radiography, Optometry, Medical Lab, Operation Theatre Tech, Cardiac, Dialysis Tech, Public Health, Nuclear medicine, Orthotics & Prosthetics, Sports Science etc — three years

Diploma courses are also available in most paramedical streams, mostly after PUC, but a few are offered after Class 10 also. The duration is two to three years.
Unlike in the past, paramedical professionals now have good opportunities to do high-tech work with good remuneration.

Veterinary sciences

This entails a four-year BVSc and then practice as an animal doctor, pet care professional, or make a career in vet pharma, animal behaviour, management, military service, etc. Government veterinary colleges offer the course at fairly low fees, and job opportunities have gone beyond government service to private sector dealing with animal nutrition and health, animal products, grooming, and various animal farms.

Hospital or healthcare

These are offered at the postgraduate level in the form of two-year Masters in Hospital Administration (MHA), or MBA (Healthcare) etc. A few colleges only take in doctors, but many others offer seats for graduates from any stream. While such professionals do not actually participate in the treatment, they are actively involved in supervising the healthcare process in large high-tech and corporate hospitals, to ensure their efficiency and to coordinate between the dozens of different departments and consultants. A four-year BSc (Nursing) and MSc in Operation Theatre, Paediatrics, Psychiatric nursing etc come under this category.

Some other options...

One could look at a four-year BPharm degree in Pharmacy, and further specialise through MPharm. Also, a six-year PharmD course is now being recognised as a very professional and practical course (based on PCB or PCM marks in CET). One could also consider a four-year engineering course in medical electronics or biomedical engineering.

And for those who are interested, a BA/MA/MSc in Psychology is a sound option. One could qualify as a clinical psychologist by doing a two-year MPhil course in Clinical Psychology in NIMHANS, AIIMS etc.

The Indian Army and Indian Air Force recruit persons after Class 12 as nursing or medical assistants, and training is given on-the-job with stipend. (See www.careerairforce.nic.in)

Many foreign universities also take in Indian students for medical studies and their tuition fee is also quite competitive. However, such students have to come back to India and give a qualifying exam before they can practise in our country. Details of equivalence of foreign degrees can be obtained from www.mohfw.nic in and www.mciindia.org.

Health-care is also increasing in importance in areas such as stress management, lifestyle management, sports management, wellbeing of children in schools and geriatric care. These fields will continue to grow at a very swift pace and will offer excellent long-term career opportunities to those who are getting into it now. Looking after the wellbeing of humans (or even animals) can be one of the most satisfying and meaningful vocations possible.

There is no likelihood of recession, there can be no unemployment, salaries will continue to rise steadily, and there will be greater satisfaction as newer drugs, techniques, technology and treatments develop rapidly, making the life of healthcare professionals very interesting and challenging. This is the right time to take the plunge.

(The author is founder, Banjara Academy, Bengaluru)

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