With the human resource need very high in the expanding healthcare sector, these unconventional courses offer many exciting career avenues.

Now, even the modestly ambitious can hope for a career in the healthcare industry thanks to the emergence of a variety of unconventional courses.

Among the frontline institutions that have ventured into medical education is the Madras Medical Mission (MMM), which has launched several undergraduate and postgraduate programmes to generate health manpower.

At least two such courses that are gaining in popularity and hold high relevance for the healthcare industry and community health are the programmes in Medical Sociology and Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs. The maiden batches for both these courses will graduate next month.

The M.Sc. degree in Medical Sociology started in 2007 by the MMM College of Health Sciences has a broad-ranging syllabus where candidates are imparted a holistic perspective on the doctor-patient relationship and have to analyse the functioning of various hospital units in relation with the patient.

The master’s programme, affiliated to the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University, also equips students with insight into various levels of interaction between health care providers and patients and family. The course curriculum includes anatomy, physiology, basics of computer science and communication skills in English, besides medical social work, anthropology, biostatistics, medical ethics, social and preventive health. The training is geared to enable candidates to get a feel for being a social health professional from Day One through exposure to hospital units, health-related NGOs, conducting field surveys and evaluating case studies.

The openings for graduates range across organ transplant coordinators, epidemiology investigators, research assistants in malaria and tuberculosis research centres or data analysts.

There could also be slots available as social scientists or in community medicine departments. “Most of the courses were designed after an introspection of the industry’s needs,” says Philomena Mariadas, college dean. The course in clinical research, for instance, has been framed keeping in view the increasing number of clinical/drug trials coming into India. The Physician Assistant, which has programmes at the BS to M. Phil. and Ph.D. levels, is one other course that seeks to generate skilled manpower which would fill the care void between physician and nurse.

The innovative course, conducted in association with BITS Pilani, has set off a new demand for PAs in busy hospitals where doctors and nurses struggle with a daunting workload.

The diverse course curriculum includes rudimentary microbiology, laboratory diagnosis and radiology.

MMM and BITS conduct an eight-semester BSc Physician Assistant Degree programme (4 years) for Class XII Science stream students, a four-semester M. Phil (2 years) for PA graduates, a three-semester degree in Cardiac Sciences and even a four-semester Ph.D in Medical Sciences.

For more details on courses offered, log on to www.mmm.org.in.