New MBBS syllabus to introduce students to patients in first year

Medical students could soon have their first brush with treating patients in the first year of MBBS with the Medical Council of India (MCI) giving final shape to a revision of the undergraduate medical curriculum. This will be the first major overhaul of MBBS syllabus in 17 years.

At a recent press conference in Chennai, Dr M. Rajalakshmi, MCI's chief consultant in the academic cell said the conversion of the existing MBBS curriculum to a competency-based one is almost complete. In a move that has raised eyebrows, MCI is also applying for a copyright, following which the syllabus will be put up on its website.

In 2011, MCI submitted the proposed new syllabus, titled Vision 2015, with the ministry of health, but the implementation was stalled due to wrangles within the body. "The apex regulatory body of doctors has now revived the plan by submitting a fresh version of the syllabus after making a few modifications," said a source in MCI.

The last time the MBBS curriculum underwent a major revamp was in 1997 when the duration of the academic year for first-years was reduced from 18 months to 12 months. In 2007, new concepts were introduced in medical education, but they were just added to the existing content. Along with updating the syllabus, MCI has initiated training of medical teachers.

The new curriculum is expected to change the way medical education is imparted and competency developed. Students will be exposed to clinical practices in the first year itself instead of waiting till the end of the second year, as is done in most colleges. "In the first year, teaching is mostly text-book oriented, but we need to introduce students to patients as early as possible as it will help them extrapolate," said Dr. Dhayakani Selvakumar, convenor of MCI's regional centre in Christian Medical College, Vellore.

Subjects like radiology and surgery are likely to be introduced in the first year as part of the new syllabus. This will also help MBBS doctors acquire diagnostic and analytical competence for clinical evaluation earlier on. MCI feels undergraduate medical education needs reform. "Not everyone who completes MBBS does a PG; there are some who get into practice. The new syllabus will help them in a big way," said Dr. Selvakumar.

Doctors and students say the present curriculum devotes too much time to general medical studies and the various aspects of the human anatomy, which may not be of much use to students who opt for specialization later. Sources say the new syllabus will also have 17 additional subjects.
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