Medical Education Governance in India

Medical education in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Medical education in India


  • The increasing population (1.32 billion ) and the occurrence of diseases, demands Indian medical education and the training approach to be modified and ensure enhancing practical clinical skills, than just sticking with predominantly theoretical or classroom training.
  • The demand for medicine to be taught in language beside English has been made repeatedly over the years, and was reiterated by union home minister recently.


  • Medical education consists of training aimed at ensuring physicians acquire the competencies, skills and aptitudes that that allow them to practice professionally and ethically at the highest level.

Goal of medical education

  • The goal of basic medical education is to ensure that medical students have acquired the knowledge, skills, and professional behaviors that prepare them for a spectrum of career choices, including, but not limited to, patient care, public health, clinical or basic research, leadership and management, or medical education.

Why medical education in India needs urgent reforms

  • Current Status: Despite being home to one of the oldest medicinal systems in the world, India is still struggling to bring its medical education at par with the leaders around the world. The 541 medical colleges in the country haven’t been able to reach the standard of education that could meet the healthcare needs of the country.
  • Deficiency: The doctor-patient ratio of 1:1655 in India as against WHO norm of 1:1000 clearly shows the deficit of MBBS. While the government is working towards a solution and targeting to reach the required ratio, there is a need to relook at the overall medical education.
  • Post pandemic scenario: The lag in formal medical education has come up evidently post-pandemic when the nation saw the medical fraternity struggling to fill the doctor deficit.
  • Structural issues: It also brought forth the outdated learning methods that most of the medical institutes were using. Due to lockdown and fear of Covid-19 spread, a lot of institutes cancelled lectures and practical sessions.

Current challenges faced by medical education in India

  • Limited government seats: The number of seats available for medical education in India is far less than the number of aspirants who leave school with the dream of becoming doctors.
  • What data speaks: Of the 1.6 million students who appeared in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in 2021, only 88,120 made it into the 562 medical colleges in the country. Others had to enrol in non-medical courses in India or seek admission to foreign medical colleges. While the number of medical colleges has now increased to 596 (with 89,875 seats), the entry barrier is still high.
  • Lack of skills: Though the institutes are managing to hire professors and lecturers, there is a lack of technical skills. Finding faculties in clinical and non-clinical disciplines is difficult and there are very few faculty development programs for upskilling the existing lot.
  • Lack of infrastructure: The gap in digital learning infrastructure is currently the biggest challenge the sector is facing. There is an urgent need to adopt technology and have resources available to facilitate e-learning.
  • Lack of research and innovation: The medical research and innovation needs an added push as there haven’t been many ground-breaking research here. The education system needs to focus more on increasing the quality of research. Additionally since industry academia partnership is not available, hence innovation also takes a back-seat.

A recent analysis estimates that India has only 4.8 fully qualified and actively serving doctors per 10,000 population.

Government steps in tackling these challenges and issues

  • NMC bill: The National Medical Commission Bill, 2019 was passed recently by the parliament. The bill sets up the National Medical Commission (NMC) which will act as an umbrella regulatory body in the medical education system. The NMC will subsume the MCI and will regulate medical education and practice in India. Apart from this, it also provides for reforms in the medical education system.
  • MCI suggestion: The Medical Council of India (MCI) launched the globally recognized Competency-based medical education (CBME) for MBBS students in 2019. The CBME curriculum seeks to step away from a content-based syllabus and more towards one that is more practical and aligned with the country’s increasing health demands.
  • Schemes: 22 new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) were developed under this initiative, and MBBS classes have already commenced at 18 of the new AIIMS.

About NMC

The Aim of the National Medical Commission are to (i) improve access to quality and affordable medical education, (ii) ensure availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals in all parts of the country; (iii) promote equitable and universal healthcare that encourages community health perspective and makes services of medical professionals accessible to all the citizens; (iv) encourages medical professionals to adopt latest medical research in their work and to contribute to research; (v) objectively assess medical institutions  periodically in a transparent manner; (vi) maintain a medical register for India; (vi) enforce high ethical standards in all aspects of medical services; (vii) have an effective grievance redressal mechanism.

Steps to be taken 

  • To cater to any unprecedented demand in the future and to bring up the quality of education, the Indian medical education system undoubtedly needs major reforms.
  • While the focus needs to be put on improving the curriculum to bring competency-based education, there are several ways that can help bring reform in the current medical education system. Some of these are;
  1. Leveraging technology to offer digital learning solutions
  2. Capitalizing on e-learning and facilitating infrastructure to support it
  3. Revising curriculum to have more practical training, competency-based skill development
  4. Inculcating problem-solving approach by situational/case-based examination
  5. A broad-based faculty development program to sharpen the competency of teachers
  6. Eliminating caste-based reservation and paving way for merit-based admission
  7. Industry academia collaboration to facilitate innovation

Way forward

  • There should be a substantial step-up in public investment in medical education.
  • By establishing new medical colleges, the government can increase student intake as well as enhance equitable access to medical education.
  • Besides, it must allocate adequate financial resources to strengthen the overall capacity of existing medical colleges to enrich student learning and improve output.

Try this question for mains

Q. Considering the large diaspora of medical students across the globe do you consider there are problems in Indian medical education system? If there are any ,discuss them along with current health status and steps needed to counter them .

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