Categories: Editorial

Making Medical Teaching More Attractive

Goa became the first state in the country to increase the retirement age of government medical teachers to 65 years. The decision, which came into force on June 1, will help government retain many senior faculty members at the Goa Medical College and Hospital and continue to utilize their knowledge and experience. This also meets to an extent the need to ward off shortage as few in the medical field opt for a teaching career in their alma mater. The Medical Council of India inspectors have in their reports over the years regretted the shortage of teaching staff in the only medical college in the state.
The GMC, which is among the four oldest medical colleges in the country, has over the years struggled to find right candidates for teaching posts. The government has been forced to appoint consultants at various levels on contract basis so as to make up for the shortfall, while the Goa Public Service Commission has been hunting for the right candidates. Over the years the intake strength of the students for undergraduate and postgraduate courses has gone up considerably and there is need to appoint more teachers. Besides more departments, some of which are specialized courses, have been added to the existing courses which has put further pressure on the authorities to appoint teachers so as to ensure that academics do not suffer for want of teaching staff. In the absence of GPSC’s failure to find and recommend the right candidates for appointment as teachers the government has resorted to a stop-gap arrangement of appointing teachers on contract basis, which has been resented by the regular staff as some of these teachers on contract draw huge emoluments compared to the teachers who have put in over 25 to 30 years of service at the GMC. Besides, quite a number of teachers on contract leave their jobs midway once they get better-paying jobs elsewhere and the government is forced to make fresh appointments.
While the government decision to increase the retirement age to 65 years will allow many doctors to continue in service for three additional years, it is also likely to cause heartburn among their immediate subordinates who have been waiting to occupy the senior posts in the GMC. The decision also will have a bearing on the salary outgo and the terminal benefits for the teachers would further increase. Besides, not all the senior faculty members who were due to retire and would be beneficiaries of the latest government decision are outstanding teachers and their continuance in the posts could have a bearing on the teaching and learning. It would have been better if the government had adopted a mechanism to independently judge the performance of individual teachers before allowing the benefit of extended service years to them. By having such a mechanism the government could have set a system of checks and balances and only those who met the criteria for extension in service should have been allowed to continue. There are teachers who had retired in recent past and were given extension in service. Will they also be getting the benefit of the new extension? The government would have to come out with a clear-cut policy on the issue so as to ensure that no allegations of favoritism and nepotism are levelled at any level.
The government over the years increased the intake for the MBBS course from 100 to 150, and there is a further proposal to increase the intake capacity of the undergraduate course to 200 and to add more departments. The newer proposal will mean government would have to look out for more teachers. One option to get teachers is to reemploy the teachers after their retirement as the MCI allows teaching faculty in private medical colleges to work till they attain the age of 70 years. Many of the teachers who had retired in recent past and who have performed well could be considered for reemployment by the government. While the continuance of the teachers will help the government to retain the teachers the government would have to look out for qualified young candidates to fill in the junior posts. Many young and talented doctors do not take up teaching jobs as they could earn better by either doing private practice or joining private hospitals on much higher salaries. To attract good faculty and brilliant candidates the government could consider raising the salaries or giving special allowance to the teaching faculty so as to make the pay packages attractive as good medical teachers will be able to produce better doctors.

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