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The Controversial Path of Private Hospitals in Medical Education: Balancing Quality and Affordability

The expansion of private medical courses has generated a discussion regarding its potential impact on the quality of medical education. While some individuals argue that stringent criteria should be implemented to determine the eligibility of hospitals to offer such courses, others view it as a favourable development. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya recently urged more than 60 prominent private hospitals to introduce medical courses, with approximately 20 hospitals responding positively to the invitation. Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar revealed that the number of medical colleges in the country has significantly risen from 387 before 2014 to 654. The government’s objective is to address the shortage of doctors by augmenting the number of medical colleges and increasing the availability of MBBS seats.

Dr Rohan Krishnan, chief of the Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA), is worried about the drop in the quality of medical education. They argue that private hospitals may need more teaching expertise for proper medical training. While these hospitals have experienced consultants, they need faculty members who are skilled in teaching, research, and other essential aspects of medical education. Dr Krishnan believes we should aim to produce quality doctors, not just MBBS graduates. On the other hand, supporters like Dr Rohan Khandelwal, a consultant at C K Birla Hospital, see private hospitals entering medical education as a positive step. However, they stress the need for strict criteria to ensure that hospitals have enough patients and the required facilities to run a medical college. This cautious approach aims to balance expansion with maintaining quality standards.

Amrita Hospital is offering reassurances about the quality of its medical courses. They already conduct such programs at their Kochi branch and are now introducing them at their Faridabad branch. Dr Prem Kumar Nair, the Provost (Medical Sciences) at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, assures that the institute strictly adheres to government guidelines. They have implemented continuous quality assurance programs that follow recognized University Grants Commission (UGC) standards. This ensures that the medical education provided at Amrita Hospital maintains high quality. Apart from concerns about quality, the rising cost of medical education is a significant issue. Dr. Krishnan points out that the high fees charged by private medical colleges discourage many prospective students. To tackle this problem, he emphasises the need for affordability. It is also essential to ensure that these colleges meet the minimum standards set by the Medical Council or the National Medical Commission regarding basic facilities and equipment. Striking a balance between maintaining quality and making medical education affordable is crucial. This ensures talented individuals from different backgrounds can access and pursue their medical education dreams.

One benefit of private hospitals offering medical courses is that graduates have improved job prospects in the medical industry. For example, Amrita Hospital prefers its graduates when hiring because the faculty is familiar with their abilities and training. This leads to a smoother transition from student to professional, reducing the time needed for additional training. Additionally, having medical students on hospital campuses enhances the workforce and daily operations. Faculty members can mentor students, and senior students can guide their juniors, creating a supportive learning environment.