Prof. A. K. Mahapatra, Director, AIIMS Bhubaneswar in conversation with Careers360 discusses about changes needed to make the country’s medical education more robust. In this interview, the AIIMS Bhubaneswar Director speaks on challenges of faculty shortage in medical institutions and measures to address it.
Read this interview of Prof. A. K. Mahapatra where he also speaks talks about the need for change in course curriculum.
Careers360: There is a lot of churning in India's medical education system. How do you look at the present medical education scenario in the country?Prof. A.K. Mahapatra: The present scenario is average. If we look at the medical colleges in the country it is neither bad nor very good; it’s average. We do not have institutions like the AIIMS Delhi. Only 20 per cent of the medical colleges in the country are doing really good; rest is either average or not doing well. There are many colleges that are not even at the optimal level as they lack infrastructure, faculty so we have to work towards raising their level. The other problem is that there is a huge shortage of faculty all over India; we are not able to get good quality teachers.
Careers360: Most of the AIIMS-like institutions face faculty shortage. Why are you facing this problem?Prof. A.K. Mahapatra: We are facing this problem because at the entry level you are writing papers, doing research but when you reach the level of professor the attitude is totally different. Another problem is that these people also come from institutions where writing papers or doing research is not the priority; they are only concerned about teaching.
Careers360: How can we address this problem?Prof. A.K. Mahapatra: This is a very critical problem. If I talk about the interviews that we did for all new AIIMS, we received 5000 applications of which we interviewed more than 4000 but could select only 300-400. We got good people at the level of Assist. Professors but it was very difficult to find someone suitable for the post of professor.
Careers360: Government has opened new AIIMS in different parts of the country and is planning to open more; will it not affect the brand name?Prof. A.K. Mahapatra: We have to first understand that there is a difference between AIIMS and good quality hospitals. AIIMS are teaching institutions. We have to understand the purpose for opening AIIMS. If the purpose is to upgrade the healthcare system in a particular area then we should upgrade the facilities at the hospitals located in that area as by adding MBBS we are only adding 100 seats.
Careers360: You mean this will dilute the brand?Prof. A.K. Mahapatra: AIIMS was established to give good quality teaching and high quality patient care. So if you will have 30 AIIMS by next 30 years then it will certainly dilute the brand name. It will affect the brand name because then we will not be able to attract the best talent across the country as students from a particular state or region will study in that particular area. The institute which now has a national character will boil down to a regional institute; but it will certainly improve the healthcare services in that area.
Careers360: As a Director, what are the new initiatives you have taken at AIIMS Bhubaneswar?Prof. A.K. Mahapatra: We are soon going to appoint close to 100 faculties, we had advertised for 2450 posts and for that we carried out massive manhunt and the interview was carried out over a period of six months and we have finally selected 100. Till now we have only one teacher in a department but now we will have five in each department, it will also increase the number of doctors available.
Careers360: Any other initiatives on courses?Prof. A.K. Mahapatra: We are also going to start postgraduate education from July session; we have also started new things like dialysis surgery, laparoscopic surgery, endoscopic surgery, heart operations, etc. as right now we get 1500-2000 patients in OPD everyday so things will improve soon. So, the message is clear that AIIMS Bhubaneswar is now functional. Though it is not at par with AIIMS Delhi but it is offering affordable quality patient care.
Only 20 per cent of India's medical colleges are doing really good; there are many colleges that are not even at the optimal level as they lack infrastructure and faculty so we have to work towards raising their level
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