E-ISSN 09707700 | ISSN 09707700
 

Letter to the Editor 


Does India need dual degree to improve its academic progress?

Ashok Munivenkatappa.

Abstract
In India, there is increasing demand for seats in Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), in both government and private colleges, since 2000. Nearly 27,000 seats were implemented in one and half decade. There has been a proposal in January 2014 to increase 10,000 more undergraduate seats in government medical colleges (1). In broad specialization after MBBS there are 22,575 seats and in super specialtization there are 3040 seats recognized from both Medical Council of India (MCI) and Diplomate of the National Board (DNB) (2). In spite of increasing medical seats each year there is no or very less improvement in medical research in India.

Majority of medical degree holders are not or less interested in research career even MCI has made it mandatory for their academic progress. There are very few government institutes in India that are involved in clinical research by collaborating with basic laboratories. It is reflected in poor global ranking in higher education as graded by academic ranking for world universities (ARWU) (3).

The fact in medical research is that various research questions can be explored by multi-level collaboration with various specialties from clinical to basic level. The physician-scientist is one such integrated program in encouraging multi-departmental training. It is promoted by dual doctoral degree as Doctor of Medicine - Doctor of Philosophy (MD-PhD). The program was implemented by National Institute of Health (NIH) in 1964, after Case Western Reserve University School of medicine adopted if for the first time in 1956.

The Physician Scientist is a practicing clinician who connects clinical work with basic research. He is involved in specific clinical work like any other core practicing physician with key interest in generating new medical questions. Then he is involved in analysis and study in the laboratory to answer relevant research questions. The results from the laboratory will be translated to bedside (4).

Recent study from neuroscience field has assessed the progress of research career between MD-PhD and only MD degree training from top ranked American academic institution. The progress in research career was considered in procuring NIH research grant. From 1990 to 2012 the passed out and pursuing residents from both degree were assessed for their academic progress. There was significant increase in MD-PhD investigators from 10.2% to 25.7% during the observed period. Nearly two-third of MD-PhD holders was in academic medicine. Fifty two percent of dual degree holders were more likely to receive NIH research fund. The study concluded that MD-PhD trainers had higher significant research career and successful grantmanship (5).

For the first time in India the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has attempted such an integrated program in collaboration with National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in the field of neuroscience in 2006. The program shows increase in academic progress over a period of time (6). It is not only that MD-PhD training will improve the research work in India; implementing such a degree in all specialties will give opportunity for medical students to pursue research as their career. That also helps to collaborate with multi-disciplinaries and answer relevant research questions with scientific evidence. The choi et al., study has shown that dual degree holders do better in academic progress and procuring grants. The Indian government of higher educational setup should come up with more MD-PhD training in various super specialty fields. The target is to improve the research chapters in India.

Key words: Academic Progress, Duel degree


 
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