Paramedical services occupy an important role in the successful delivery of healthcare systems. But, often this specialisation is overlooked. JIPMER's new courses seek to change the trend.

With great advancement in technology over the past few decades, quality of medical care has vastly improved across the world. This advancement has also thrown in fresh challenges for the medical field. Today, there is an urgent need for competent people who can handle highly sophisticated medical machinery. In fact, diagnosis has become so dependent on technology that the role of paramedical staff has become vital in delivering successful treatment.

For a long time, the mainstream medical courses have been the centre of attraction for students opting for the biology stream in school. Paramedical courses were seen as a secondary option. A look at the number of applications that the Jawaharlal Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) received only reiterates this fact. The number of candidates who applied for the MBBS admissions was more than 30,000 whereas only about 1,700 applications were received for the allied courses.

According to JIPMER Dean K.S. Reddy, because of this approach to paramedical courses as a secondary option, students lose out on a gamut of opportunities. “These technicians are in great demand, both in India and abroad. Their starting salaries could be anywhere between Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000, on par with starting salaries of many professional courses.”

The institution has started four new B.Sc courses such as Dialysis Technology, Operation Theatre Technology, Radiation Technology and Perfusion Technology this year that help students specialise in handling machinery for a particular field of medicine.

Explaining the importance of such support staff with an example, the Dean said, “During the process of cardiac surgery, the functions of the heart are taken over by a machine. The person who handles this machine literally holds the life of the person. Any mistake can be life-threatening. This is why we now insist on trained staff to handle such machines.”

Students taking such courses not only study biology-based subjects but are also required to study physics which is central to understanding the working of the equipments.

On completion of the three-year course, the students undergo one-year internship at JIPMER for hands- on experience in handling the equipments under expert guidance. They will also be provided stipend during the period.

Other new courses

Apart from paramedical courses, JIPMER has started super speciality courses such as Neo-Natology which is taken up after completion of MD degree. Following the directive of the Supreme Court to all medical institutions, JIPMER has also started a special course for Blood Bank and Transfusion Medicine.

According to Dr. Mahadevan, a paediatrician at JIPMER, six certificate courses are proposed to be started for the benefit of medical practitioners in rural areas. This includes certificate programmes in special areas of focus such as psychiatry and palliative care. The candidates would include doctors from Primary Health Centres nominated by State governments.