KARACHI, Dec 15: Expressing concern over the number and quality of postgraduate trainees in the ENT (ear, nose and throat) disease specialty, senior otolaryngologists at a discussion on Saturday called for a review in related training and assessment methods.

The experts were of the view that the ENT specialty was failing to attract medical graduates due to the existing pattern of examination and training, and overall due to lower economic benefits to the professionals concerned.

The discussion was held at a local hotel, with Pro-vice Chancellor of the Dow University of Health Sciences Prof Dr Umer Farooq in the chair, as part of a three-day national conference of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery, inaugurated on Friday under the organisation of the Pakistan Society of Otorhinolaryngology.

In his presentation, Prof Dr Muhammad Amjad, a councilor of the College of Physician and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP), said there were 48 recognised training institutes in the ENT specialty with 81 supervisors and 183 trainees of FCPS programme. While majority of the institutes belonged to the public sector or Pakistan armed forces, only two were giving training in Azad Kashmir, three in Balochistan, 43 in KPK, 99 in Punjab and 36 in Sindh.

Causes behind the shrinking number of ENT trainees and specialists in the country could be social aspects and financial returns, and overall large number of female students coming out of the undergraduate medical institutions, majority of whom either dropped medical pursuits or liked the specialties of their convenience, the participant’s resolved.

During the panel discussion, Dr Manzoor Ahmed said there was a need to bring about changes in the examination pattern and making the specialty more attractive financially and updated training wise.

Prof Tariq Rafi said that both the trainees and the trainers needed to be evaluated from the competence point of view. Equal and identical exposures should also be ensured for all trainees across the country.

Prof Farooq said sometime candidates claimed that they had not experienced new or advanced cases or knew about the latest therapy during their period of training at CPSP-recognised institutes.

There was a need to increase the skill of the trainees on the descriptive sides because many appeared weak in patient history writing while they were excelled in objective questions, he added.

Brig Zubair Ahmed said that more exposure of trainees was needed and it should also be ensured that training centres provided adequate opportunities to its trainees.

Prof Amjad said trainees preferred to use abbreviations, stay brief and liked short essays, while on the other hand they failed to present cases in any expressive manner.

He also called for steps for introduction of new developments to the ENT specialty and absorption of new changes by the practitioners concerned in the country.

A few doctors sitting in the audience suggested for rotation of FCPS trainees from one institution to other in different years of the training. Arrangements should also be made for English language proficiency and maximum on-call duties including the night hours for the trainees, while CPSP should also hold frequent workshops in the ENT specialty for the postgraduate trainees, noted another doctor.