Medical College If classes for the first in-country MBBS program do not begin by next July as planned, then the post graduation program would, medical university officials said.
The curriculum for the PG program is already developed, based on the AIIMS model, and five departments have been identified to start off the residency program, the medical college’s project director Jamtsho said.
However, if the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for human resources with the government of India comes through by the first week of January, and pushes the project to another level, the university would go ahead with the MBBS program.
The recruitment of faculty members for MBBS program and their remunerations would be facilitated by the MoU that has already seen 11 revisions, but which is yet to be signed, even though the government of India has “in principle” agreed to support the university.
According to the memorandum, Bhutan is seeking a support of Nu 500M for five years in each discipline to cover the cost of expatriate faculty members. About 70 percent of the faculty members would be expatriates.
“If we have everything in place, especially the human resources, we’ll start both the post graduation and undergraduate programs,” Jamtsho said.
But a delay in the signing would mean the university may no have enough time to work with other agencies in announcing the admission for MBBS program. Results for class XII students are usually declared by January end.
Meanwhile, the university is planning to take in two general doctors (GDMO) in each of the five departments of surgery, gynecology, paediatrics, ophthalmology and medicine for the four-year PG program.
“Within a span of four years, they’d be awarded with a master’s degree in the area of their specialty,” Jamtsho said.
Some time around September, doctors in the country had proposed PG program over MBBS, since it was more “doable”, and also met the shortage of specialists in the country. Project and ministry officials had however prioritised and pushed to start off with the MBBS program, saying the decision to start off the programs was like a chicken and egg riddle.
An agreed feeling among the doctors was that starting with a PG program first was better, because it could be done with the existing manpower. A doctor said that a curriculum and pedagogy training for specialists was what was needed to take off with the PG program.
The proposal for PG program had reasoned that, in the next five years, about 248 doctors, who are studying MBBS on government scholarship, would be returning home, a number, which is more than 50 percent of the existing pool of doctors. Doctors doing their residency can also help in clinical supervision of undergraduate medical students.
Having a program for these doctors to do their residency in the field of their choice at home would make the services of these doctors available at home sooner, because most PG courses are for a long duration, between three to five years. There are some doctors, who are in their sixth year of PG, project officials said.
Meanwhile, the service condition, which states the pay package for the faculty members, and the budget that is required in the university’s operation, is also under discussion.
Given the dual responsibility for the doctors at home to teach and treat, the university has proposed a non-practising allowance of 50 percent, in addition to the scarcity allowance that they are already getting. To attract quality and qualified professionals for medical education, the university has also proposed that the faculty members be placed a position higher than those in the other colleges.
Another aspect that is also under discussion, including the civil service commission, is the university taking over the country’s apex referral hospital, JDWNRH, as a teaching hospital.
This means some 1,000 staff of the hospital would be transferred to the university and not be civil servants any more. “The teaching hospital would be under the university, and that means the staff would be with the university,” Jamtsho said. “But they’d enjoy the same benefits of a civil servants, and we’re still working on different modalities for the transfer.”
By Sonam Pelden