PESHAWAR: The decision taken by Pakistan Medical Commission allowing non-doctors to teach basic medical sciences in medical colleges will adversely affect medical education, the association of teachers has warned.

The association said that it would prove disastrous for the medical profession as generations would be treated by substandard graduates to be produced under the present regulations announced by the council of PMC.

“We demand the PMC to revoke the decision and save medical education from being affected as non-medical people cannot teach basic medical sciences (BMS) to the satisfaction of the students,” said members of Basic Medical Science Association Pakistan in a letter sent to PMC on January 14.

The letter entitled “Grievance against PMC’s decision allowing non-medical teachers to teach in medical and dental colleges of Pakistan,” described the move as dangerous because it said that teachers with medical background could teach medical students well.

Association of teachers asks PMC to revoke decision of allowing non-medics to teach basic medical sciences

The letter said that the ordinance under which PMC was established had sought to devise uniform standard of basic and higher medical education, training and recognition of qualifications in medicine and dentistry but it was unfortunate that the present commission revoked the steps taken by the previous council regarding setting standard for private and public sector medical institutions.

The commission, it said, had taken basic measures contradictory to the basic philosophy that tended to impact medical education.

The now-defunct former council had defined criteria for recruitment of teachers of clinical and basic medical sciences. These standards kept refining with the passing of time but PMC abolished the criteria and allowed hiring the services of non-medics for teaching at medical institutions regardless of their qualifications and teaching experience.

The move approved at the PMC’s meeting held on November 3 was fraught to serious flaws, said the letter.

Significantly, Lt Gen Khawar Rehman, the Surgeon General of Pakistan Medical Core of Pakistan Army, who was a member of the PMC council had voted against the move in an email.

The association pointed out that all degree courses, such as engineering, agriculture and pharmacy etc required relevant professionals to teach the students.

The BMS, including medical microbiology, medical pharmacology, medical biochemistry, medical pathology, medical physiology and medical anatomy were different subjects from plant physiology or animal physiology.

For instance, the doctors of veterinary medicine didn’t study human basic sciences then how they could be hired to teach BMS, which required knowledge of human sciences, said the letter.

It said that PMC’s argument that in the western world, the medical schools had some non-medic teaching faculties was out of context. The non-medical teachers weren’t the core faculty of the medical schools, rather they visited faculty from their respective departments of other universities to teach specific topics such as genetics or molecular biology and didn’t teach core subjects of BMS including anatomy, physiology and pathology etc.

It also pointed out that the issue of shortage of BMS teachers was felt five years ago but it was no longer a problem as was evident from the last countrywide inspection of the of the medical colleges by the then Pakistan Medical and Dental Council last year.

The colleges listed in Category C had deficiencies of clinical super specialties, it said.

The letter said that several people having postgraduate qualification in BMS were looking for jobs.

The non-medical teachers lacked the desired clinical knowledge and they would not be able to teach BMS in line with requirements of medical graduation as they did not have clinical exposure to patients and were bereft of knowledge about diseases, it added.

“The PMC is introducing integrated curriculum on one hand while on the other it is allowing non-medics to teach BMS. Students have expressed dissatisfaction over the teaching of non-medics at the colleges,” said the letter.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2020