National Medical Commission Decision To Cut Ceiling For Non-MBBS Teachers Sparks Fear Of Job Losses

The practice of such appointments, for teaching pre and para-clinical subjects started in the 1950s when not many doctors were pursuing PG in non-clinical specialties.

A recent decision by the National Medical Commission (NMC) to reduce the ceiling for non-medical teachers in medical colleges and even doing away with their appointment altogether in a few subjects has sparked fear of job losses by such faculties in various parts of the country.

The practice of such appointments, for teaching pre and para-clinical subjects had been started in the 1950s when not many doctors were pursuing PG in non-clinical specialties.

In the “Minimum Requirements for MBBS Admission Regulations 2020”, released by the newly established medical education regulator last month, the permissible intake of non-medical faculty has come down from 30% to 15% in anatomy and physiology, from 50% to 15% in biochemistry, and from 30% to 0% in microbiology and pharmacology.

“This means that a non-medical teacher would be forced to stay put in the same college until retirement, and all possibilities to seek new employment in any college, whether new or old, would be denied,” said Dr. Sridhar Rao, president of the National MSc Medical Teachers’ Association.

Teachers who teach the clinical subjects in medical colleges are always doctors with MBBS and MS/MD degrees. There are also some teachers — about 5,000-6,000 — in the non-clinical subjects with medical MSc or PhDs. They do not have MBBS degrees. Their designations rang from tutor to professor and even head of departments.

Controversy Over The Appointment Of Non-Medical Teachers

The practice of such appointments, for teaching pre and para-clinical subjects had been started in the 1950s when not many doctors were pursuing PG in non-clinical specialties.

Now, the commission has said that the new guidelines would be applicable only to the new colleges that would admit students into the 2021-22 batch. It has said that new guidelines would also apply to those medical colleges that would seek to raise intake of MBBS students.

The first draft guidelines were the adoption of the MCI’s guidelines, which had stated, “In the department of Anatomy, Physiology, Pharmacology, and Microbiology, non-medical teachers may be appointed to the extent of 30% of the total number of posts in the department. However, in the department of Biochemistry, non-medical teachers may be appointed to the extent of 50% of the total number of posts in the department”.

The NMC sought feedback from the stakeholders over its proposed guidelines. The non-medical teachers have been taken by surprise over the U-turn of the NMC.

The appointment of non-medical teachers in the medical colleges dates back to the 1960s when the Mudaliar Committee recommended opening up M.Sc courses to the science graduates so as to create teachers for teaching medical students in the non-clinical subjects.

The MCI regulated these courses and used to accord permission to the medical colleges to start these courses. Over time, MCI abandoned regulating these courses and their mention went missing from the First Schedule of the IMC Act of 1956.

At some point in time, around 95 medical colleges used to run these courses; now only 35 do so. Medical M.Sc courses are conducted in the medical colleges based on the same curriculum and syllabus as those of MD courses in the non-clinical subjects.

Decision sparks fear of job losses for non-MBBS teachers

There is fear and uncertainty among the community of non-medical teachers as they fear that these guidelines will be illegally extended to the existing medical colleges.

There is no clarity from the NMC over its application. Although the MCI collected data of every teacher from all the affiliated medical colleges, it has no data on the number of non-medical teachers.

It is estimated that there could be 4000-5000 non-medical teachers working under the designations ranging from Professors & HOD to Tutors. At the same time, thousands of students are pursuing medical M.Sc courses hoping to get employed in medical colleges.

With the implementation of these guidelines, they have lost a major employment opportunity. “Like our medical colleagues, we too have undergone the mandatory training on the implementation of the new competency-based curriculum and we are capable and confident of imparting the teaching as envisaged by the NMC” stated Dr. Shridhar.

“We request the government to take note of our precarious position, safeguard our interests and provide us justice by reinstating the previous MCI norms”, said Dr. Rao with optimism.

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