Greater transparency, a stronger academic base and an objective type test for PG students are on the cards.
Saturday was a red letter day for the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University, on the occasion of its 20th Convocation. But the occasion was also significant because the vice-chancellor of the university, Mayilvahanan Natarajan, unveiled the transformation that medical education in the State is all set to undergo, heralded by the university itself. On both the academic and administrative front, the transformation process has been kickstarted.
While some of the measures to be implemented are for ease of governance primarily, undoubtedly they will also benefit the students ultimately. Informal tie-ups with medical colleges have been in place for years, but for the first time, a formal commitment has been inked with centres of excellence in medical colleges to provide training to young doctors in sub specialities. One-year Clinical Fellowship programmes have been initiated in various medical and surgical specialities. New job-oriented allied health degree and diploma courses are all set to commence this academic year.
With added emphasis on research facilities, an agreement with the Madras Medical College has been reached for promoting high quality research in medical and surgical fields. A University Research Council has already been created to process research grants for projects in clinical and basic sciences.
But what follows is what will truly make a medico's life easier — practical aspects that will aid the student circumvent what he has come to see as a stumbling block of hurdles in interacting with the management. A policy decision has been made to provide answer sheets to all who had failed in the undergraduate examination, to promote transparency and accountability of the system. “We are confident of our grading procedure, so we have decided to provide the answer sheets. Students can find out exactly where they have gone wrong,” Dr. Mayilvahanan said.
A new authentication system at the University's Art Regional Medical Library has been put in place and it will allow all faculty and students of government medical colleges across the State access over 2,000 medical journals of the ERMED Consortium from wherever they are at anytime. This also ties up with bolstering support and infrastructure for research and promoting continuing medical education.
An e-journal has also been launched by the university — Med ej — to provide postgraduates training to publish scientific papers and also submit their project theses for publication after examinations. This would give students an idea of how important publications in peer-reviewed journals is; and also mould them to present publications that would be accepted by reputed journals.
More practically, the university's move to digitise and automate its entire processes is to eventually benefit not only students, but also the administration and faculty of affiliated colleges. For one, in the near future, one can expect online updating of student attendance and internal assessment of students, Dr. Mayilvahanan said. An IT consultant, Sumanth Raman, has also been appointed to take forward this e-governance project that aims at improving operational efficiencies and enhancing the quality of services it provides.
Objective type test
More radical will be the implementation of an objective type testing pattern for postgraduate students. The Objective Structured Clinical/Practical Examinations will be introduced this academic year with guidance from foreign medical universities that are already implementing this system. Skill laboratories, if the vice-chancellor has his way, will be set up in various medical colleges through private-public partnerships in order to give students more hands-on experience. Already such a lab has been set up at the Orthopaedics department of Madras Medical College and preparations are on to set up a wet lab for anatomy.
Conducting virtual classrooms by linking up colleges in the State with centres of excellence in other parts of the country and abroad will enable students to learn the latest from the best in the field sitting in their own classrooms in Chennai or Theni or Thanjavur. ISRO and IGNOU are expected to provide their technical support for this tele-medicine programme.