January 14, 2019 0 By FM

Students joining the MBBS course in medical colleges throughout the country from August 2019 onwards would be educated and trained according to a new Competency-Based curriculum recently approved by the Board of Governors of the Medical Council of India. Those who are already in their senior years would continue with the old curriculum, which was set up in 1997.

In addition to the usual medical subjects such as Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, etc, the new curriculum will have a few additional subjects like Attitude, Ethics and Communication, which are expected to equip the students with the skills needed to deal with patients. This was a long felt need among senior clinical practitioners all over India.

The new syllabus is also being described as “Outcome-driven”, which means that students are being exposed to the actual clinical significance of what they are taught, right from the start of their training. Thus, along with the lectures and practical lessons given in the Anatomy Department on “the various joints and subtypes and examples”, they are also exposed to their clinical importance in orthopaedics. Likewise, the segment on skin and deep fascia would be “vertically integrated” with the basic features of dermatology, venereology and leprosy.

This is a major departure from the previous system, under which exposure to the clinical aspects of any anatomical structure or physiological function would be very minimal until training in pre-clinical subjects — Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry — was completed. It was only from the second stage of the MBBS course, when subjects like Pathology and Pharmacology were introduced, that the students were given rotational postings in the clinical departments.

But since the new curriculum has to run simultaneously with the old syllabus (for the senior students), the scheme poses a special challenge to the teaching faculty. Dr Avinash Supe points out that the reorientation of teaching staff had begun as far back as 2014.

However, Dr Ravindra Deokar of the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (FmT) at Seth G S Medical College, Mumbai has a different view.“It is being said that the Casualty Department in the Medical College Hospitals would be placed under FmT, but this could result in a staff shortage. Besides, there will be some new topics like Sports Medicine, along with Physiology [in the new syllabus]. How would they be handled,” Dr Deokar observed. He also felt people (students and staff) were not clear about what was happening at the top.

The next steps in implementing the curriculum would be through 10 nodal centres and 10 regional centres, but the precise division of responsibility among these centers has not been worked out as yet. Clearly the new MBBS curriculum is very much a work in progress; and how well it is implemented and integrated with existing arrangements, only time will tell.