‘Only the toughest can endure the travails of medical education’

Has medical education become tougher or the students opting for it are struggling to cope with the standards? These are the two questions that arose in an inquiry into the sudden spate of suicides by medicos in the State. Doctors who completed their medical education a couple of decades ago have varied opinions on these two cryptic questions.

NIMHANS trained psychiatrist, the first to set up a psychiatry practise in the city, Indla Ramasubba Reddy, said when he was a student, that is, four decades ago, 90% of the admissions to medical colleges were on the basis of merit. While there were no donation seats, there were no reservations for Backward Class students either. All medical colleges were run by the government, but today there has been an exponential increase in the number of private colleges. Similarly the number of students getting admission on the basis of donation has also increased exponentially. The students who get a seat on the basis of donation apparently will have to compete with merit students.

However when it comes to suicides, academic pressure is usually identified as the culprit. When compared to general students, medical students are more susceptible to academic pressure. This is because practicals are more important in medicine than theory. Therefore, the professor who teaches the subject is also the examiner. “While just knowledge is sufficient for a general student, a medical student requires observation, communication and analytical skills. Students who lack these skills feel all the more deficient,” Dr. Ramasubba Reddy said. Obedience, loyalty and good (non-controversial) behaviour also fetch marks, he said. Only the toughest could endure the travails of medical education.

Retired ESI hospital superintendent T. V. Narayana Rao said it was wrong to say the medical curriculum had become tougher. This is evident in the pass percentage. Only 60 to 65% of the students used to graduate when he completed, a couple of decades ago, but today the pass percentage is close to 80. The students are however being subject to greater academic stress because most of them are focussed more on “how to get a seat in post-graduation” rather than learning the subject. In fact, medicos are subjected to various kinds of harassment by the teachers in the past than in the present day, Dr. Narayana Rao said.

In a recent trend, more students from Telugu medium schools are joining medicine directly because of reservation and capitation and they are finding it very difficult to cope. A student who is poor in language has a severe disadvantage and this often affects performance.

Vijayawada Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (VIMHANS) chief psychiatrist Vishal Indla said academic pressure only acted as a trigger for suicide. Genetics and other socio-economic factors played a very important role in pushing students to the dangerous point where a minor factor acted as a trigger.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 2:14:53 AM |

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