India Changes MBBS Syllabus After 21 Years, Special Focus On Practical Training, Attitude, Ethics and Communication (AETCOM)

November 12, 2018
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The MBBS curriculum has been finally revised after a long span of 21 years. The new MBBS curriculum is aimed at instilling affinity and universally admissible knowledge in the medical profession. At present, the curriculum and regulations formulated in the year 1997 are being followed.

The new curriculum was decided by the Medical Council of India on 9th November 2018 which will be further proceeding from the upcoming academic session, 2019-20. The MCI academic has worked for two-and-half years to structure the new MBBS curriculum, keeping it in accordance with global scientific advances and emerging diseases, reported The New Indian Express. The new curriculum is named “Competency-based UG Curriculum for the Indian Medical Graduate” which has been submitted to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. A senior official from the Ministry said that the oversight committee has approved and accepted the curriculum in principle and it will be informed in the near future.

The new MBBS curriculum has a significant improvement over the one which was earlier formulated in the year 1997. The previous curriculum was focused on classroom-based rote learning. The Chairman of the Board of Governors, Dr. V.K. Paul told The Tribune, “The curriculum has a course called Attitude, Ethics, and Communication (AETCOM) which will run across years. Students will be assessed for how they communicate with patients, how they counsel people for organ donations or other challenging procedures; how sensitively do they often care, and obtain consent. All these things will count along with competencies and skills”.

Main features of the new curriculum:

  1. Instead of jumping immediately into core subjects like anatomy, physiology, the classes will commence with a two-month ‘Foundation Course’. This Foundation Course is aimed at orienting a medical student to MBBS program. The classes will start with teachers explaining the history of medicine. Other necessary skills such as communication and language will also be taught to these Medical Students.
  2. The students will gain clinical exposure right from the first year instead of second.
  3. The students will be able to study subjects according to their choice. Elective subjects are to be introduced.
  4. Medical mannequins and models will be provided for clinical practice and training.
  5. Two-thirds of the course shall include interactive, practical or clinical or based upon group discussions. Theory classes will be reduced to a minimum.
  6. The learning process will be problem-oriented and activities emphasizing hands-on training like community healthcare activities, etc. will be encouraged.

Establishment of these long-due changes is a welcome move and these changes could go a long way in fulfilling the lack of qualified medical professionals in India. It is no hidden fact that the doctor-patient relationship has not been equal and instilling empathy in medical graduates. Communication plays a vital role and this new addition will surely make them good communicators which further helps in improving the doctor-patient relationships.

Community engagement has been limited to individual initiatives by doctors who go out of their way to bridge the gap. It is hoped that this new curriculum focusing on practical knowledge and student attitudes will prove to be a game-changer and play a major role in improving India’s healthcare system.