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PG course on family medicine to be launched

January 3, 2012

Family physicians — medical practitioners that were fast disappearing — are being revived.
With India witnessing a rush of medical students keen on becoming “specialists”, the Union health ministry and the Medical Council of India (MCI) has now notified introduction of a new three-year postgraduate course — MD in family medicine.
Chairman of MCI’s board of governors Dr K K Talwar told TOI: “The curriculum has been prepared and sent to all states who have now been told to roll out this broad speciality course.”
So what will be the difference between MD (medicine) that is already run by medical colleges and MD (family medicine) that is now being introduced? Experts say a doctor with MD (family medicine) will be one “who will know a little of every discipline, from paediatrics to gynaecology and will be able to treat the community as a whole.”
This, the ministry says, will soon bring back the family physician to the forefront of primary healthcare.
The steering committee on health has also been pressurizing the ministry to endorse family medicine. In its recent report finalized last week, it said “family medicine discipline needs to be introduced in all medical colleges so that they can effectively manage most of medical problems encountered at primary level, and referral to specialists occurs only when necessary.”
Till now, most family physicians were simple MBBS doctors. Dr Talwar said: “The MD course on family medicine is more advanced that a simple MBBS and will help doctors wanting to increase heir acumen in community health.”
Till now, the only available postgraduate programme on family medicine was the DNB family medicine qualification, conducted by the National Board of Examinations (NBE) accredited community hospitals. NBE executive director Dr Bipin Batra told TOI: “The demand for DNB (family medicine) course run by the NBE is seeing a major increase. We have 300 seats for this discipline. As against just 50 MBBS students enrolling to become family physicians a couple of years ago, the numbers reached close to 300 in 2011. Those doing MD (medicine) is taught more in-depth on diseases, functions of various organs and their treatment.”
Professor Ranjit Roychoudhury, former member of MCI’s board of governors, said “a person with a post graduate degree in family medicine will look at preventive, prophylactic and promotive healthcare. He will have extensive knowledge on health care for the elderly who can’t move out of the house and will be taught on everything from gynaecology, psychology, to paediatrics.”

Categories: Public Health
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