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An Overview of Research Oriented Medical Education in India

The overall betterment of society depends on how well we are able to handle endemic and epidemic situations and our preparedness is directly proportional to the information we have acquired through research. Here we discuss the current state of research in medical education in India. 

Why research is important in medicine?

To understand the importance of research it is first mandatory to understand what research is. Research is another name of gathering more information by systematic investigation so that we can get closer to making sound decisions, better products and cost effective choices.  The main goal of research is to solve existing problems and build a future that is free from the prevalent issues of the current times.It holds all the more true for a field like medicine, where the need of creating new medicines and treatment methods gets its motivation from the increasing number of medical complication that plague the human population today.

 

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The current state of research in Medical Education in India

While the life expectancy and the general standards of healthcare in Indiahave improved considerably over the course of last 50 years, there is little of this success that can be attributed to medical research. This lopsided situation is due to the tendency of developing world to apply the medical knowledge generated by the developed world to solve their needs. With no new innovation taking place, the developing world countries are left at the mercy of their peers in developed world for making even basic progress in medicine and clinical research. However, as we progress into an era of evidence based medicine, there is an urgent need to generate research data that is specific to Indian conditions. Moreover, if India wants to become a major player on the global arena, then our medical education system should incorporate the best of both the clinical and research worlds.

Presently, the status of research in medical education is miserably inadequate. Most colleges are ill equipped and with the time constraints of the MBBS course, students are least motivated to take up research projects. Every year around 35000 students join medical college, out of which only a handful are interested to take up research. In the absence of proper guidance and motivation, students limit themselves to the course content of their MBBS degree, unaware of the immense possibilities that research holds. To reverse this trend, the government has introduced various initiatives. 

Government Initiatives for promoting research

ICMR Short Term Studentship: Sponsored by Indian Council of Medical Research, the apex body that controls and promotes medical education in India, ICMR STS is a popular research program that enables the recipient to work on a project in their interested research area for two months followed by a month of writing detailed analysis and report. Once the report is approved, students get a certificate of approval and a stipend. In 2010, 4250 students applied for the studentship, out of which 790 applications were accepted.

KVPY (Kishore VaigyanicProtsahanYojana):  Started in 1999 by the Department of Science and Technology, the program aims to identify and motivate students who display good aptitude for research in engineering, medicine and basic sciences. Those selected are facilitated with generous scholarships and financial grants.

Higher education and career in research

Senior Research Fellowship: MBBS students can enroll for Senior Research Fellowship, under which they are required to work on a project for three years. The SRF is offered by Indian Council of Medical Research, Central Scientific and Industrial Research and recognized by University Grants Commission. Furthermore, Christian Medical College, Vellore also offers a Postgraduate Fellowship, candidates for which are taken through an independently conducted entrance exam. 

PhD: PhD is a great choice for those who wish to pursue research in medicine. There are many reputed medical schools and hospitals that offer PhD to MBBS students. AIIMS in Delhi, NIMHANS in Bangalore and CMC, Vellore are some of the colleges that conduct PhD programs in various disciplines. The admission policy for each of these colleges varies individually.
MD/MS-PhD: SRM University Chennai and King George Medical University, Lucknow offer ICMR sponsored MD/MS-PhD program that aims at nourishing the research temperament of medical students.  The program is conducted under an ICMR Talent Search Scheme that invites application from MD/ms qualified students. Out of the thousands of applications only 25 are accepted for the same making it a highly exclusive research program.

What else needs to be done?

In order to promote Research Oriented Medical Education in India, the colleges need to strengthen their infrastructure and introduce student magazine journals.  In addition, regular conferences should be held where students are motivated to present their work publicly in the presence of noted academicians and other students.  This will not only boost their confidence but will also broaden their academic horizon in many ways. MEDICON is a similar national level research conference that is held exclusively for undergraduate medical students and is organized by the Indian forum of medical research that encourages young and bright medical aspirants to show off their work and findings.  Further, participation of Indian medical students in international conferences like International Student Congress of Medical Sciences (ISCMOS) should increase, which is the only way to increase the global exposure.

Author Bio-
Saurabh Tyagi is an expert writer having interest in diverse topics like education, technology and career. He iswriting for Shiksha.com, which is the leading education portal useful information about the current education trends related to medical education in top ranking medical colleges in India.

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