Around 3,000 non-medical teachers are on the 'verge of losing their jobs' after the new guidelines of the National Medical Commission (NMC) that has drastically reduced the post of non-medical MSc teachers in the medical colleges across the country.
The National MSc Medical Teachers Association (NMMTA), the body representing non-medical teachers, has approached the Health Ministry seeking a rollback of the decision as nearly 3,000 non-medical teachers are feared to face a job crisis with the National Medical Commission reducing the posts for their recruitment.
Seeking to revoke the guidelines, NMMTA said, in a letter submitted to the ministry, that the rollback will address the faculty crisis in the institutions and help the teachers.
In the guidelines issued by the medical education regulator in October 2020, the permissible intake of non-medical faculty had come down from 30 per cent to 15 per cent in anatomy and physiology, from 50 per cent to 15 per cent in biochemistry, and from 30 per cent to 0 per cent in microbiology and pharmacology.
The NMC has claimed that these guidelines would not affect the current faculties already in employment and would be applicable to new medical colleges, new appointments and colleges seeking MBBS seat enhancements.
"The practice of involving non-doctors in medical education in non-clinical subjects is a global phenomenon. The erstwhile Medical Council of India (MCI) had stated that the 'intellectual cross-fertilisation with diverse intellectual streams is vital for medical education' with respect to the participation of non-medical M.Sc/Ph.D teachers in medical education. There is no need to divert away from this wisdom," NAMMTA told IANS.
The practice of appointing teachers in the non-clinical subjects of the MBBS education started back in 1960, when the MCI allowed these teachers in the medical colleges to bridge the gap of shortage of doctors.
As per the Teachers' Eligibility and Qualifications guidelines of the MCI, up to 30 per cent (50 per cent in Biochemistry) of teachers in the non-clinical subjects of Anatomy, Physiology, Pharmacology & Microbiology could be 'non-medical' subjected to unavailability of medical (MBBS/MD) qualified teachers.
Sridhar Rao, president of the NMMTA, said while there has been an increase in MD seats in the non-clinical subjects, 40-50 per cent of them remain vacant each year, which would only mean that the faculty shortage is likely to continue.
"The shortage are more pronounced in the colleges located in rural, remote or hilly areas, where the availability of medical teachers is generally poor. Introduction of the new MBBS curriculum isn't a concern as all teachers are being trained to implement it," Rao asserted.
He also said that while rejecting a prior proposal to do away with the provision of appointing M.Sc./Ph.D. teachers, the Board of Governors in supersession of the MCI in January, 2020 had cited the shortage of faculty in the institutions.
While talking to IANS, Rao said that as per the NMC Act, NMMTA had filed first appeal with the NMC, which was rejected without any consideration. A second appeal has been filed with the health ministry, which is under consideration.
"We are not seeking a new policy direction that might warrant the constitution of a new committee. We seek the restoration of the erstwhile MCI rules. We are not even seeking reservation. We are asking for the restoration of what was snatched away from us," said NMMTA president, adding that, "it will create an artificial crisis of teachers and resultantly the medical education would become costlier in India."