He hopes for a future that has biomedical or bio-instrumentation engineering complementing medical education. Dr. Niranjan Kumar, Vice Chancellor of Karnataka’s Shri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara University, Bengaluru, tells Education Post’s Tanay Kumar about the urgent need to build an efficient healthcare system in India.
The rather hyped National Medical Commission Bill of 2019 was brought in to bolster the quality of Indian medical education. Your thoughts?
The bill was much awaited and much needed at this stage to build a progressive education system. Medical education and in fact India’s overall education system needs to undergo a radical change. It should help students identify their skills and grow by creating a growth mindset. I am hopeful this bill will hold true to its promises: improved access to quality and affordable medical education, regulate corruption, promote professionalism and ensure availability of needs.
What is the advantage of the Competency-Based Medical Education (CBME) test?
One failure cannot define a student. Failure should help one to grow. The teaching faculty must take more initiative in creating inquisitiveness among the students. The acceptance of ever-changing trends is what CBME is about. Both the students and the teachers have to keep themselves updated with the latest methods and technologies.
One may have extraordinary knowledge but may lack very basic skills which are required for practice. The current system is curriculum-based and subject-centered, and most evaluations are summative, with little or no feedback. The teaching-learning methods focus more on knowledge than on attitude and skills. Hence, there are gaping holes in soft skills such as communication, ethics, and professionalism. The CBME system will help fill this gap.
In July, vital organs of two brain-dead women were donated to needy patients at the hospital wing of your institute. What’s your take on organ donation in India?
Unlike other countries, we are still far behind when it comes to organ donation. Reasons are several. To name a few, there’s a lack of awareness, blind belief in totally illogical stories—some people fear being born blind in their next life if they donate their eyes after death.
We have to spread awareness about organ donation, properly-through media and via various other modes that people get educated about the importance and nobility in donating organs after death.
Streams like biomedical engineering and biotechnology deal with healthcare technology assistance. You’ve spoken about enhancing cooperation between these fields.
We will see many such grey areas sprouting up in the near future. As l see it, more Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between medical and engineering fraternities should be promoted. In years to come, I see a lot of crossovers and also people with two degrees from completely different but complementing streams.
Your opinion of government hospitals and health centers in India?
PHCs (Public Health Centers) are not well-developed and equipped. The healthcare system is weak and unsatisfactory. Corruption in these health centers does not allow benefits to reach the needy. Also, costs are increasing enormously. PHCs are India’s biggest medical challenge.
People have lots of expectations from the medical fraternity. What do you expect from patients and their relatives?
People have to understand that doctors are not magicians. People, especially in our country, put us on a pedestal and then degrade us if a patient’s prognosis is not as they expected or if there is a fatality. They have to understand that there is something beyond medical science as well. Half-baked information on the internet and WhatsApp forwards add to the onerous situation.
Any message for medical students or those who are aspiring to opt for this stream?
Please choose the medical profession only if you really have an affinity for medicine and patient care. Do not opt for it because you think it is glamorous, and that there is a lot of money to be made. To achieve efficiency and to become a good doctor, it takes long hours of training and commitment. It is very demanding and requires complete dedication and lots of compromises too.