Many Medical and Dental Colleges in the private sector may not survive in the coming years

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Many Medical and Dental Colleges in the
private sector may not survive in the
coming years
Some of them might be forced to close down in
the next 2-3 Years’ time
From now onward, some may not attract any
student while a few of these institutions might also
have to struggle to fill up all the seats

ISLAMABAD: After the steps being taken by the regulatory bodies in Pakistan to streamline the medical education and ensure standards, some of the medical and dental colleges established in the private sector might not survive in the coming years. It is feared that some of them might have to close down in the next two to three years. As the situation stands today, the delayed announcement of the MDCAT result might lead to some of these institutions not attracting any student while a number of them will have to struggle to fill up all the seats, it is feared.

Under the new set up the private medical and dental colleges including the universities have been given too much freedom. They can make their own admissions. The maximum fee has been fixed with a provision of annual increase. Looking at the approved Fee structure and other related expenditures, now it requires almost Ten Million rupees to become a doctor. How many students and their parents can afford this fee remains a big question mark? Once they qualify, their first priority will be earn money to pay back to their parents and survive. If that was not enough, now the introduciton of Final Exit Exam by the regulatory bodies before they are allowed a license to practice medicine means that passing the exam from their own institutions will not carry enough weight and enrollment in a medical or dental college also does not mean that one becomes a qualified Doctor or Dentist until they clear the Final Exit examination. Absence of any proper service structure, lack of job opportunities, problems with finding slots for Residency for doing post-graduation within the country will keep on haunting the students many of whom might decide not to opt for Medicine or Dentistry as a professional career. The future of the profession under the present circumstances does not look bright whereas graduates in other professions can start their professional career at a greater advantages with lucrative remunerations much earlier as compared to the medical and dental graduates. Since at present majority of the enrollment in medical and dental colleges is of Girls, many of whom do not practice after graduation due to various reasons, it is going to have its own social problems. It is also feared that in future we might find it difficult to recruit male doctors even in big cities what to talk of small town and rural areas.

Even at present many doctors and even nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists after graduation leave the country since they get better prospects with enhanced, lucrative salary, perks and privileges abroad. Once the medical and dental institutions in the private sector fail to enroll the required number of students, they will find it extremely difficult to attract or even retain the existing teaching staff. Already some medical and dental colleges, universities in the private sector have slashed the salary of its teaching staff, forcing some of them to leave to join other institutions thereby seriously affecting teaching and training. Though some institutions have made arrangements for online education, teaching and training but at present it leaves much to be desired since we do not have the required efficient infrastructure including internet facilities. A large number of faculty members are not well trained to adopt Online Education, some are not well versed with the information technology needed hence it has adversely affected the academic activities.

Pakistan Medical Commission whose affairs are being run and managed by a Lawyer who has been appointed as its Vice President has finally announced the result of much awaited MDCAT examination it had conducted. However, there have been numerous complaints by the students which has been accepted by the PMC. Some of the students were erroneously marked as absent. Some others complained that their name and roll number do not match. This lead to the result being offline for a few days for what is termed as “Reconciliation” by manual checking. PMC has pointed out that it was a Computer generated Result hence in order to undertake investigations and reconciliation, it had to be taken offline and re-verification, it claims, was done in over thirty hours. Addressing a press conference Mr. Ali Raza Vice President of PMC said that “1, 21,181 students had attempted the test, 67,611 qualified it obtaining more than 60% marks. He further claimed that over six hundred students had written their roll numbers wrong while one hundred fifty students had written their name wrong on the answer sheets which necessitated verification and reconciliation to ensure transparency. Fourteen questions which were found to be ambiguous during Post-Test evaluation were taken out and fourteen marks were added to the result of each student who took the exam on November 29th 2020, he remarked.

The controversy related to the MDCAT exam and its result may continue, many students might resort to protest and agitation while the medical and dental colleges might also face lot of difficulties in enrolling the required number of students. If past is any guide, some students might even go to the courts to seek justice. It is because of the attitude of the regulatory bodies that students and parents continue to suffer going through lot of agony, depression and frustration all these months and it seems it is not yet over.

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