off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

A wake up call for
the CPSP Council


Despite the fact that the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan election are far away, some groups have already initiated their election campaign and a few meetings have already been held to chalk out the election strategy. According to reports, some of the issues which they intend to highlight relates to misuse of resources on frequent visits abroad of certain councilors, selection of examiners and accreditation of training institutions. Ensuring financial transparency and judicious use of the funds generated through fees from postgraduates are likely to be highlighted. One of the groups is also reported to be planning to send a representation to the government to monitor CPSP activities while another group thinks, the courts should be approached to get some election rules and byelaws amended so that real representatives of various regions are elected to represent their respective regions. Unfortunately all these reported moves by some “Fellows” are fraught with danger and any government interference will ruin and spoil the good image and name this institution has earned enjoying international credibility.

Unfortunately one of the worst things which happened in the last elections was the complete routing of the opposition group due to their own foolish attitude and negative election campaign. Hence now some of the council members might have to play the role of opposition coming up with constructive criticism and pointing out issues which is not an easy task in a country where those in authority are used to hear praises. And those who decide to play such a role may also have to pay a price. The council members need to be reminded of the speech made by Prof.Ian Gilmore at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations in the special session on “Global Perspective of Postgraduate Medical Education”. He had stated that “Gone are the days of authoritarian approach, now is the time to work together as a team and delegate powers which means that many doctors have to change their authoritarian attitude.” These are the pearls of wisdom coming from a wise person a former President of Royal College of Physicians and a respected distinguished medical personality and it conveys a lot for those who are interested and keen to learn. The CPSP fellows should also be mindful of the Bangladesh experience and any involvement of government will result in nomination of a few Council members by the Government which could rob the CPSP of its authority and independence and it will be a major disaster which must be avoided at all costs. The best way to thwart any such move is to maintain transparency at every level. During the Golden Jubilee conference, some funds were collected to establish Surgical Skills Lab. One does not know what happened to that project?
When Prof. Kh. Saadiq Husain became the President, he was very keen to enforce financial discipline in the CPSP but his sincere efforts were thwarted by those with vested interests. The present council members, one hope, will not provide an opportunity to the fellows to criticize them for misuse of resources on alleged too frequent visits abroad of some selected council members on one pretext or the other and ensure judicious use of the resources. Issues and disputes if any should be resolved in the council and general body meetings rather than inviting the government or going to the Courts. In the past when some of the issues were not resolved, it was the courts which eventually decided those issues, hence why not prefer decisions within the council or GB meeting as regards amendments to rules and byelaws regarding elections so that representatives elected from Baluchistan or Sindh enjoy the confidence of the majority of the fellows from these regions.
Faculties need to be strengthened. They should be alive, functioning and doing their duty. They should also assist the Examination Department in selection of examiners without any interference from the council members. Prof. Michael Holland in his presentation at the golden jubilee celebrations had remarked that “colleges should not become irrelevant for the Fellows. They should organize post-fellowship training in collaboration with the specialty organizations. Young Fellows Forum should be created and they should be offered Travel Grants for training overseas at centers of excellence for short periods. Young Fellows should be closely involved with the college otherwise they won’t know their practices. They will prove to be a valuable asset in future”. Has the CPSP council taken any measures to improve its relationship with the professional specialty organizations? While selecting young fellows for post fellowship training merit and not ”trustworthy voters” in future should be the criteria. CPSP must make investments in competent young fellows who can be trained to take up future responsibilities rather than having an army of mediocre around who are good for nothing.
There were many other important issues highlighted in the past on which no headway appears to have taken place. Setting up Residency Review Committees, giving respect and recognition of the role played by trainers, supervisors could improve the training and thus improve the pass percentage. CPSP fellows should be role models for healthcare professionals and also uphold professional ethics. It is important to increase the number of training slots for postgraduates which calls for accrediting more institutions but it must be ensured that at least minimum training facilities are available. The Standard Operating Procedures should be followed in letter and spirit as regards accreditation of all new institutions rather than personal likes and dislikes of a few. Selection of examiners and the way exam is conducted also needs to be improved further to avoid the chances of any bias during viva.
While making nominations to represent CPSP at different Forums, the administration must go for merit and competence of the individuals and it might have to look beyond the twenty members Council and select some fellows who are not in the council. Efforts should also be made to ensure that no councilor holds more than one post. Regional centers should be further strengthened and in fact it will be in the interest of the CPSP in the long run if the Regional Centers are headed by fellows other than council members. Respective council members in their areas should monitor the functioning of these centers.
CPSP should be proud of its accomplishments so far but there is a need for proper check and balance. It should not forget the fact that it has to face some real challenges in the years to come. Its position as the only institution producing postgraduates and specialists is going to be effectively challenged by the medical universities some of whom have made tremendous progress. Hence they will have to compete with them. As such it is the time for the CPSP administration to learn from the experience of others and how they have resolved such issues in their countries. Some dissenting voices are now being heard quite loud and clear and it will be better for the CPSP to put its house in order and get prepared for the challenges ahead. Changes are inevitable, nobody can stop the change taking place as no one is indispensible hence why not make sure that all the desirable changes are made and accepted with a smile rather than obstructing the evolving changes taking place. Those in authority in the past could not stop it and no such efforts are likely to succeed in future as well.{jcomments on}

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