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Faculty shortage affects quality of medical education in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The mushroom growth of medical and dental colleges coupled with the enhancement of seats by the existing colleges have created a severe shortage of faculty members due to which the quality of medical education is continuously going down in the country.

However, Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) President Dr Shabir Lehri claimed that the council had introduced a faculty exchange programme to maintain the quality of education.
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According to documents available with Dawn, during 2016 as many as 31 applications were filed for the establishment of new medical colleges in the country.
Mushroom growth of medical colleges and increase in number of seats by existing institutions has led to the shortage

Secretary Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) Ayub Sheikh told Dawn that 19 of the applications met the 13 standards of the ministry and were forwarded to the PMDC.

“We only check the documents and see if the applicant has the security amount, hospital, faculty and other facilities. However, it is the responsibility of the PMDC to physically check the facilities,” he said.

An official of the ministry of NHS requesting anonymity said though new applications had been received and processed, a number of medical colleges also wanted to enhance their seats.

“In the United Kingdom there are 36 medical colleges while the USA has less than 150. We already have 144 medical and dental colleges. Pakistan is being criticised in international forums because of the large number of medical colleges and the poor quality of education due to the shortage of faculty,” he said.

“Currently, we lack faculty for the subjects such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, forensic medicine, etc. In some colleges, almost 50pc seats of the faculty members are vacant due to which rules have been relaxed. For example, assistant and associate professors are allowed to become the dean if there is no professor available,” he said.

“Once there was a demand for Pakistani doctors abroad because they had very good clinical experience but now colleges do not have the required number of beds and patients in their affiliated hospitals so the quality of fresh medical graduates has deteriorated,” he said.

A faculty member of a college, requesting not to be quoted, said in developed countries one faculty member was appointed for around three students.

“At Howard University’s Medical School there are over 8,000 regular and overall 14,000 faculty members (if the visiting faculty members are included). There are 14 faculty members for one student and 19 attached teaching hospitals due to which it is considered one of the best medical schools in the world,” he said.

“Once in Pakistan rules of the developed countries were followed but now they have been relaxed to establish new medical colleges and mint money. No one bothers to take steps for the improvement of quality,” he said.

“Medical colleges have established hospitals in which they never offer caesarean section. So patients hardly visit these hospitals due to which students do not get an opportunity to learn. How a private hospital can be compared with Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) which receives around 10,000 patients daily,” he said.

Dr Lehri told Dawn that some of the applications such as that of Hitec Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS) Taxila, Northwest School of Medicine Peshawar, Rehman College of Dentistry Peshawar, Bibi Aseefa Dental College Larkana and others had been registered.

“We also received applications for the enhancement of seats from the Army Medical College Rawalpindi, Khyber Medical College Peshawar, Islamabad Medical and Dental College (IMDC), Isra University’s Medical College, Aga Khan University Medical College and others. The application of IMDC has been rejected and others are being considered,” he said.

When asked if the quality of education would not be affected by the registration of new medical colleges and enhancement of seats, Dr Lehri said the council had launched a faculty exchange programme to ensure the quality of education and availability of faculty members.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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