In the 513-year history of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd), a surgeon of Indian-origin was recently elected as its vice president. An alumnus of Madras Medical College (MMC), Pala Babu Rajesh, who will play a role in international affairs in RCSEd, felt it was time that India had a standardised post graduate medical curriculum.
“What we have in India today is multiple curricula. Whether we can standardise it is a challenge. The problem here is there are so many universities and we do not know what these universities are actually delivering by way of post graduate courses,” he said, in an interview to The Hindu. “If we have a standardised curriculum, we can see how the students finish and whether they are in a position to be an independent surgeon, which is the most important thing,” he added.
Curriculum, he said, is something that is dynamic and changes often because of the innovative procedures that come in and research that has happened. “What we really need to do is to keep revising the curriculum and we are quite prepared to help,” he said. Dr. Rajesh, a resident of Chennai, completed his MBBS from the MMC in 1974. He left for the United Kingdom in 1976. After being involved with the RCSEd for 30 years in various roles, he was elected as its vice president, and the new administration was inducted in November 2018.
The 67-year-old cardio thoracic surgeon believed that the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test would help in raising the standard of students entering undergraduate medical education. “A national-level entrance would help in getting the best candidates, and as a result, the post graduate education system would also get better,” he observed.
The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is the oldest surgical college in the world and has been in the forefront of surgical education, training and maintaining standards, he noted. It has a membership and fellowship of surgeons in the world, and the number at present is 26,700 including around 1,500 to 2,000 Indians. On an annual basis, the College offers 100 courses both in and outside the UK, and conducted around 44 examinations in both surgery and dental surgery across the world last year. In India, the College offers examinations four times in a year, with centres being in Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi and Kolkata. “Following an invitation, we are going to hold the first MRCS examination in Kerala in December this year.”
However, he said that they are really keen that the medical fraternity in India does not feel that they are encroaching on the existing post graduate examination. “We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Board of Examinations in 2015 so that we can help on quality assurance. We are not in competition with anybody,” he stressed.
As vice president of RCSEd, his focus would be on maintaining standards of courses and exams, and also on the curriculum for overseas countries that would like them to help in writing the curriculum for post graduates.
A recent meeting with the Association of Surgeons of India opened up areas in which RCSEd could help. “They would like more courses, training the trainers’ courses and examiners’ courses. They like us to participate in the SAARC Surgical Society and help by collaboration to choose persons who have completed training for specialised surgical training in UK by offering fellowships,” Dr. Rajesh said.