off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Different components of
 private medical education 


There are three components to private medical and dental education in Pakistan. The owners want to earn quick money and they get it. The students who wish to pass quickly and get degrees particularly the girl students as it improves their marriage chances and they are happy as their needs are fulfilled. The faculty wants handsome salaries without doing much teaching and they get it too. Hence these private medical and dental institutions come up to the expectations of all the three but the question arises are we providing adequate training to the students who get enrolled in these institutions? It is generally felt that if an independent enquiry is made, over 50% of the medical and dental institutions both in pubic as well as private sector will be found deficient in teaching and training facilities particularly the teaching faculty as per requirements of Pakistan Medical & Dental Council.

However, it will be unfair to say that all the private medical institutions suffer from these deficiencies. In fact they can be divided into two broad categories. The first one are those which are run and managed by some Trusts, Foundations and were established by eminent members of the medical profession who were interested in promoting medical education in Pakistan. They have proper campus, built the teaching hospitals before starting the medical and dental colleges and they keep on investing further improving the teaching and training facilities and also have ambitious expansion plans. They have made adequate arrangements for long term sustainability and even if they have some deficiencies at present, they are likely to make them up soon. The other category consists of medical and business Seths whose only objective is to make quick money. They started these private medical and dental colleges without having their own affiliated teaching hospitals but by making arrangements with some private or public healthcare facilities. They do not have adequate teaching faculty but have shown some retired medical teachers or consultants who are practicing at their premises to be faculty members. They maneuvered to get their institutions recognized. Not only that some of them even got additional seats sanctioned and having political connections, they know the art how to hoodwink the authorities, monitoring agencies and get away with all this.
An eminent medical educationist and former Principal of a medical college was of the view that the competition between different medical and dental college to increase their pass percentage is also dangerous. He recalled that when he got admission, there used to be one hundred students in their class and the pass percentage used to be between 30-45%. Only few used to qualify in five years while all other had to work hard and most of them will qualify in six years. Now the medical and dental colleges boast of 100% pass percentage despite the fact that they are short of teaching faculty. In some cases, the services of retired medical and dental teachers have been acquired by the owners of the private medical institutions and not many of them are fully devoted and loyal to the institutions in which they are working. They just pass time with the result that the quality of teaching and training has deteriorated. He further stated that if we cannot train pilots, there is no fun in giving flying licenses to Rickshaw Drivers.
Enquiries have revealed some more disturbing facts. Many of these private medical and dental colleges have enrolled a large number of foreign students and a vast majority of them do not regularly attend the classes. They come for some time and then go back to their countries and study their and come back just for taking the examination. The administration of these institutions is also very lenient and does not insist on enforcing discipline because their enrollment brings these institutions precious foreign exchange. In addition, there have been many instances where the faculty members switched over to other institution when offered more salary and on the other hand, some faculty members and even Principals were shown the door by the owners in a very disgraceful manner. It is the students who suffer. It is generally believed that unless the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council is strengthened and starts asserting its authority, forcing the owners to ensure proper teaching hospitals with all the teaching and training facilities, the situation will not improve. The extremely poor standard of teaching and training can be judged from the fact that a vast majority of the fresh medical graduates do not know how to give injections, how to administer oxygen, how to perform endo tracheal intubation, how to do nasopharyngeal aspiration, how to pass Ryle’s tube, how to pass gastric tube and how to catheterize male and female patients because they have never seen it, never done it nor they were ever taught all this.
The September 16th announcement by the PM&DC cancelling admission by many private medical and dental colleges for violation of regulations only proves the fact that all is not well with the functioning of these institutions. Will the Government do something to improve the situation or the owners will continue to fleece the students and their parent’s, only time will tell.{jcomments on}

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