DME at CPSP has been instrumental in creating awareness about innovative concepts in Medical Education throughout Pakistan

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Fellowship in Medical Education under consideration of CPSP

DME at CPSP has been instrumental in creating
awareness about innovative concepts in
Medical Education throughout Pakistan

Apart from running HPE and HCSM courses, the department
is also promoting research in medical education

To enjoy the status of WHO Collaborating Center for Training
and Research in EMRO Region is a great honour
for CPSP - Dr. Sirajul Haque Shaikh

KARACHI: The Department of Medical Education at College of Physicians & Surgeons Pakistan has been instrumental in creating awareness about innovative concepts in medical education throughout Pakistan. As such the DME at CPSP can rightly take the credit for the present state of awareness and progress in medical education in the country. Apart from running two courses, Two Years Masters Programme in Health Professionals Education (HPE) and one year’s Health Care Systems Management (HCSM) to produce health administrators and managers, the Department of Medical Education at CPSP is also promoting research in the discipline of medical education. To enjoy the status of WHO’s Collaborating Centre for Training and Research is also a great honour for CPSP. This was stated by Dr. Sirajul Haque Shaikh Director & Associate Professor, Department of Medical Education CPSP in an exclusive interview with Pulse International recently.

Dr. Sirajul Haque Shaikh

The concept of these programmes was conceived by the first Director of DME Prof.Fazal Ellahi and Prof. Naeem Jafary but it was Syeda Kausar Ali who made immense contribution in translating this concept into reality. DME at CPSP, he further stated, is the pioneer department in medical education and its history dates back to 1970s when CPSP in collaboration with WHO started organizing workshops in medical education which ultimately culminated in the establishment of Department of Medical Education in 1979. The DMEs globally came into existence to assist the faculties in the work of teaching and assessment in research. This department has performed these basic functions right from its inception.

Giving details of the functioning of the Department of Medical Education Dr. Sirajul Haque Shaikh said that it was involved in multifarious activities which it performs through its various units. It conducts workshops throughout the country for supervisors and trainees of the 69 Fellowship and 20 Membership programmes of CPSP. There are about forty to fifty workshops every month. The facilitators are either provided by DME or drawn from CPSP Research Evaluation Unit and other collaborating departments and institutions. These workshops are conducted not only at CPSP headquarters at Karachi but also at its fourteen Regional Centers all over Pakistan besides at overseas centers in Saudi Arabia and Nepal.
We also assist specialist faculties drawn from all over the country to develop various training frameworks including prospectus, competency charts, examination formats and accreditation criteria. We run two years MCPS, Masters Programme in Health Professionals Education (HPE) at national level and candidates are drawn from all over the country. Its contact sessions are organized both at Karachi and Lahore. The One Years Diploma course in Health Care System Management was planned to train Hospital Administrators and Health Managers. So far about two hundred people have qualified from both these programmes and our graduates are serving in most of the Departments of Medical Education established at various medical institutions. We have a faulty of four to five people at a time. Dr.Amina Ahmad is the Programme Director for HPE and she is based at Lahore. She looks after the entire HPE programme. Dr. Minhaj Qidwai a Dow graduate is Director of HCSM programme. Though the PM&DC has equated HCSM programme at Master’s level but these graduates are not currently eligible for academic positions.
DME also has a special project unit which prepares projects of national interest such as Reproductive Health. These projects were funded by WHO through their programme of JPRM (Joint Programme Review Mission) in which Ministry of Health; Government of Pakistan was one of the stake holders. However, after the passage of the 18th Amendment, the shape of the programme has changed and it has yet to take a definite form.

Continuing Dr. Sirajul Haque Shaikh further stated that in close liaison with the Departments of Registration, Research Evaluation Unit and Examination Departments, DME is also involved in analyzing the feedback of the trainees, supervisors and it also conducts refresher workshops for the examiners and supervisors. Though the department had been working in close collaboration with WHO since long but this collaboration was formalized in 1996 with the designation of the DME as WHO Collaborating Center for Training and Research in EMRO Region. Since then it continues to enjoy this privileged position. After every four yeas the DME is subjected to rigorous evaluation by WHO and is redesignated for the next term. The present term extends to August 31st 2016. Dr. Sirajul Haque Shaikh further clarified that WHO collaboration does not mean funding but it is an honour for the institution that it enjoys this status. All funding for the running and managing this department is provided by the CPSP. In response to a question what does it then mean by WHO Collaborating Center for EMRO Region and how does it serve other countries in the region, Dr. Sirajul Haque Shaikh said that we advertise all our programmes and send details to all the countries in the EMRO region. We can have exchange of experts, visit of WHO officials, Centers. We used to have yearly meeting of Directors of all WHO Collaborating Centers mostly in Bahrain but for the last few y ears no such meeting has taken place. In the Region WHO has extended support of sponsoring visits of experts in various fields of medical education and for organizing the medical libraries in Pakistan.
Answering a question regarding future programmes of DME, Dr. Sirajul Haque Shaikh said that starting a Fellowship in Medical Education is under consideration of CPSP. We will concentrate on promoting research in medical education and further strengthen HCSM programme. HPE as well as HCSM are both net based flexible programmes. Now many other players have also entered in this field and various medical universities are also running Masters Programmes in medical education. Hence it is extremely important that they all converge on some point because standardization of these programmes is a must otherwise, we will have degrees of varying standards in medical education. CPSP has a standard qualification. If other institutions show interest, the CPSP leadership can work out some details whereby we can have some Board and all institutions awarding degrees in medical education can be accommodated under its umbrella. Otherwise fragmented medical education will lead to varying standards. CPSP has worked a lot in CME. PM&DC could have played some role but it has failed, hence there was a need to have a National Board for promoting the discipline of Medical Education. Since CPSP has emerged as an important institution which enjoys international recognition and credibility due to the hard work put in by the successive CPSP administration and Council Members, it can play a vital role in this regard.

The present CPSP administration has done a lot to further strengthen and improve the teaching and training facilities. With the Video Conference facilities, we are now holding the faculty meetings quite frequently which were not possible earlier due to lot of expenditures involved. There are over two hundred Fellows who are members of the various Faculties. Some of them are elected while a few are nominated. The minutes of the faculty meetings are recorded by the DME which are then sent to the Executive Committee or CPSP Council for approval. The CPSP council is kept informed of all these developments.
Giving details of his academic journey from Liaquat Medical College to CPSP and how he got interested in Medical Education, Dr.Sirajul Haque Sheikh said that he graduated form LMC in 1969, worked in different clinical departments and then joined Anatomy department as demonstrator in 1975. I did MCPS in Anaesthesia from CPSP in 1982. Then I got an ECFMG Foreign Faculty Fellowship in basic medical sciences in anatomy (which was the predecessor of FAMER) in 1990 at University of Illinois in Chicago USA. I was one of the twelve people selected from all over the world for this fellowship. While I was there, I went to attend the Association of American Medical Colleges meeting at San Francisco. There was a stall of medical education where Prof. Richards was sitting. He asked me why not you join the Masters programme in Medical Education which was being run by the same university where I was working. He further told me that this department is headed by a Pakistani. In those days this was one of the renowned centers of medical education. Mr. A. W. Sajid a graduate of Punjab University who was not a medical graduate was heading this department. He also encouraged me to joint this Masters programme in medical education. By the end of 1999 I completed my Masters Programme in Medical Education from the same university along with one year’s fellowship in Anatomy. I had very difficult times because I went on Fellowship programme sponsored by ECFMG. I had to take permission and extension of my Visa by ECFMG and also extension in my leave without Pay from the Sindh Government. Dr. Sajid was very supportive to get all these difficulties resolved and I managed to pass the programme.
I returned to Pakistan in January 1992 and reported to the Sindh Government being their employee. I was the first person in Pakistan to have a Masters qualification in medical education and asked the government to provide me a suitable job. However, time was not ripe for such a qualification in medical education in Pakistan in those days hence I was posted back to LMC and I taught anatomy for few months. Then I was transferred to an administrative position as Deputy Medical Superintendent at Sir Cowasjee Institute of Psychiatry in Hyderabad where I was later promoted as Additional Medical Superintendent. I spent three years there and tried my best to convince the Government of Sindh that they should give me some position where I could use my qualification for the betterment of medical education. I was then posted as Director of Provincial Health Directorate Center Sindh which was an offshoot of Family Health Project in Sindh. Government of Sindh had invested lot of money here but unfortunately when I was made in charge as Director PHDC, all funds were dried up and the sponsored training programmes were at standstill. There was not much for me to do. I was in contact with Principal of LMC Prof. Irshad Mooriani who was very supportive and eager to establish a department of medical education at LMC. He allowed me to start this department in 1995; hence I used to visit lMC weekly as my PHDC offices were located adjacent to the LMC Campus. Eventually I got myself transferred to Liaquat Medical College in 2001 and I was made in charge of Dept. of Medical Education. In the meantime there was a change in administration. Prof. Jan Mohammad Memon became the new Principal and under his leadership, LMC was upgraded, got a Charter and was made Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences. Even before that there was a move to revamp the assessment system of the college and since LMC was affiliated with Sindh University, we had many meetings with them to switch over to MCQ from Essay. We implemented that even before the announcement of LMC becoming a university. Prof. Jan Mohammad Memon became the first Vice Chancellor of the university and he asked me to serve as Controller of Examinations along with heading the Department of Medical Education which I did till my retirement on August 21st 2006. Then I joined CPSP as Director DME on August 21st 2006.

From Anaesthesia to Anatomy and then moving on to Medical Education, do you enjoy your present job was my next question to which Dr. Sirajul Haque Shaikh said that even before joining the department as Director, I was taking part in workshops organized by CPSP as a facilitator, worked as a visiting faculty member and actively participated in other activities organized by the department of medical education at CPSP. Hence, my professional love affair with medical education has a long history behind it. Even as demonstrator in anatomy, I had an inclination to be involved in assessment and teaching. Now some people are coming in the field of medical education as a second love. They are most welcome and these people are necessary because they enjoy influence in medical education. For bringing any change, their support is necessary but we also need young people who should make full time career in medical education. We have inducted a few trainees in medical education and they have taken up Medical Education as a professional career. It is not only in medicine but even in the discipline of Dentistry, people are coming forward to take up medical education as a career, Dr. Sirajul Haque Shaikh concluded.

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