The Dharmapuri Medical College experience has turned the spotlight on the need to conform to the MCI requirements before an inspection, saving students and their families from tension and stress.

The long suspense is finally over. It is certain that Dharmapuri Medical College is going to be recognised to conduct the MBBS course during this academic year.

In Dharmapuri, the 100 students already admitted to the course last year and who are ready to enter their second year have heaved a huge sigh of relief.

Even in Chennai, another 85 students who preferred to go to Dharmapuri were allotted other centres or had to do with a private medical college are now excited about the prospect of seeking admission to Dharmapuri Medical College.

The Directorate of Medical Education is all set to hold counselling for the students on September 25 and 26 to comply with the norm of completing medical admissions by September 30. Candidates will be sent call letters as per order of merit and following the rule of reservation.

The MCI has a clear list of targets to be achieved by medical colleges who apply for recognition and these are listed on its website:

A very elaborate list has been declared for the inception year, and then subsequently renewal for the following four years of the course.

This includes infrastructure requirements, right down to a lecture theatre of a particular type, human resources allocation — medical and paramedical teaching and administrative staff, — even the number of books that the library must stock (1,000 during the first year and 2,000 in the second year), hostel facilities, labs, animal houses, hostels, quarters for the staff and nurses and bed strength at the hospital for every year.

Unless these requirements are met, it becomes very difficult for the medical college to get recognition. Those in private medical colleges feel that it is easy for the government sector to get clearance even if they have not met all the criteria. A dean in one of the private medical colleges said the consideration for government medical colleges is that they provide subsidised education to students and in some cases, as in Dharmapuri, in remote locations. However, a private institution in the same position would have had to comply fully with the requirements or shut down shop, he explained.

Government medical college students commenting on the recent Dharmapuri Medical College incident (on condition of anonymity) wonder why there should be problems getting the renewal since the criteria are posted on the website and the DME’s office actually operates with a checklist before an inspection. Conforming to the requirements before an inspection will make the process easier and save the students and their families from a lot of unnecessary tension and stress.

Retired health administrators in Tamil Nadu point out the hassles of getting renewal. With the government sector, the availability of faculty, especially in basic medical sciences, across India is a crucial issue. It is not possible to show the same faculty in two colleges, as per laws, they point out.

One solution would be to increase the retirement age for government doctors and increase the remuneration for professors, says a dean who recently retired from a government medical college. The physical infrastructure, in comparison, is easier to put in place.

They urge that the government must learn from the Dharmapuri experience. Especially since plans are afoot to seek recognition for medical colleges at Villupuram and Tiruvarur the next year.

Inception requirements vary from the stipulations for the subsequent renewals and the government must enhance its infrastructure step by step every year. This way, the recognition process will be rendered smooth and as a matter of routine.