Monday, September 16, 2013

Medical Education in Nepal- Preparing for a career in Medicine

Until 1971, Nepali students travelling abroad for medical education was not a new trend. There were no institutions that offered MBBS courses here, while only a handful of health institutions ran nursing and other basic health courses.

In 1972, the Institute of Medicine (IoM) under Tribhuvan University started certificate-level nursing courses, while it started the Bachelor’s in Nursing (BN) course in 1978. The same year, the IoM also started the MBBS programme for the first time in the country.

Initially, students from health assistant backgrounds were qualified for the course after passing an entrance examination. However, it was later mandated that the students from science background would only be eligible for the MBBS.Sixteen years after government-affiliated institutions started medical studies, BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences and Manipal College of Medical Sciences also jumped on the bandwagon. Now, the number of medical colleges offering MBBS course has reached 18, producing 2,000 doctors every year. In addition, three dental colleges are also in operation.

Also, a total of 48 institutes in affiliation with various universities run Bachelors of Nursing programme, producing over 600 graduate nurses every year.

“The private sector is the major driving force of medical education in the country,” said Dr SK Kanodia, president of the Association of Private Medical and Dental Colleges of Nepal. “Also our medical graduates are recognised worldwide.”

Dr Kanodiya said Indian students studying in Nepali medical colleges are more successful in the examination of the medical council of India, which has made parents to send their children to medical colleges in Nepal.

Gopi Neupane, promoter of Nagarik College of Health Sciences, Bhaktapur, said the capability of graduate nursing students to take the reins as a leader has also made the course attractive.

Administrative positions held by BSc Nursing or Bachelor’s in Nursing graduates such as nursing administrator, nurse in charge and nursing supervisor, among others, have also attracted students towards the field. Neupane said nursing can be a major field in the country as it is reeling under acute shortage of nurses.

The cost for the education varies from colleges to colleges. Despite the ceiling of Rs 3.2 million fixed by the government for MBBS programme, many private colleges charge more than Rs 3.5 million for the 5-years course.

In case of nursing, a student has to pay around Rs 500,000 for the BN course, while they have to pay around Rs 800,000 for BSc Nursing.

Despite the private sector’s claim that they are the major thrust behind medical education in the country, critique argue that the quality of the education is largely compromised.

Dr JP Agrawal, a medical educationist, said in terms of volume, it is the private sector driving the medical education, but in terms of quality, a majority of them have been compromising it.

source:The Kathmandu post,15 Sep 2013