A Glimpse into Government Medical Colleges of Pakistan
It is around midnight on 19th of September, I am browsing on a social media website and I read an interesting blog. I reach the bottom of the page and I see that it was written for a blog competition. I do a little more browsing to find out that one of the themes for the competition is Medical Education.
There is so much that I have always wanted to say about medical colleges in Pakistan, so let me rub my hands to get started. Even though the last date of submission is tomorrow, our medical college has conditioned us in such a way that we are very confident about leaving everything for the last minute, so no worries.
To begin with, medical education in Pakistan is no longer a ‘guy’s thing’. A high school male student perceives that after studying for the longest duration of time, working day and night and having minimal social life, he still would not be able to marry the girl he has had his eyes on for quite some time now. Ironically the girl he had his eyes on would go on to apply for medical school, become a doctor and then say good bye to the profession only to marry his friend with BMI greater than 32, who chose to be an engineer. No! This isn’t my sad story; just a way of pointing out that the pay scale of doctors is not just.
Seeing doctors getting beaten up for demanding a raise in salary and then being portrayed as the villains doesn’t help either. Therefore, the first thing that troubles me the most is that male doctors loyal to their profession and country would become extinct specie in near future. It is encouraging to see different medical associations highlighting this issue, because this is not gender discrimination, it is a serious problem that needs to be addressed by having our medical education producing more male doctors.
Speaking of problems that need to be addressed with respect to medical education, I understand there is a word limit to the blog so I will just remain silent on most of them just like those who are supposed to solve them. The biggest problem is that our leadership lacks the vision that is required to foresee the future and plan accordingly. Our policy makers suddenly realize overnight that a certain change is needed because it is the need of modern times. They fail to comprehend what change actually means. For example, it seems that on one fine day, someone comes up with the idea that we should replace the current examination system with single best choice questions and OSCEs. Suddenly it is announced that the next exam pattern would be according to the new system, irrespective of the fact that there is no question bank having quality questions. Consequently, examination system evolves carrying the flaws that were never corrected from the very beginning. If the examination system, the sole criterion of judging the student’s standard of knowledge and skills can be exploited, imagine how effective the system of actually trying to educate would be.
The purpose of any educational institution is not just to make students read books. It shapes their personality and skills that would make them capable of being successful in the real world. It encourages innovation and freedom to think, lead and become an organized individual. This is why in every prestigious university there are numerous societies and activities which engage students to do just that. The future seems ever more challenging that would require individuals who are more than just cheap labor serving as doctors. Human resource is the most valuable resource, more than expensive buildings and equipment. We need to invest on human resource, focus on quality of material that is being taught, rather than implementing strict attendance laws. If that would be the case, our lecture halls would not be able to accommodate all the students who would willingly want to be it. We need to develop the character in our students that would make them stand out as a doctor, instead of forcing a fine on those who are not wearing a white coat to look like one. If someone needs to be disciplined, then it is the administration department that causes students to worry about getting their fee paid on time and huge amount of paper work in every step of medical education when they should be focused on trying to write quality research papers.
I would like to admire those who realize the problems and are actually struggling to work on the urgent measures that would be required if we are to have a sustainable healthcare system in Pakistan. Unfortunately they are not the ones in the position to implement those measures. However, it is never too late and I am optimistic that if today we are able to openly criticize the policy makers and give suggestions, then tomorrow we will move towards the next step. The next step is that the policy makers actually start taking the criticism in a positive manner and become sincere to our country which has the capacity to progress exponentially; a country which has most of its excellent minds abroad, waiting for that tomorrow to come when they would be able to act as catalysts in that exponential progress.
About the author: Abdurrahman Akhlaq Husain has recently graduated from a medical school from Pakistan. He is an aspiring writer. He can be reached at: [email protected]
About this article: This article is competing for the JPMS International Medical Writing Contest 2012 for the theme: Medical Education
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