When Ranjan Mitra opted to study medicine after Plus Two, he had two choices a government college in West Bengal or a private one in Karnataka. Even though Mitra, a Calcutta resident, got the opportunity to study in a government medical college in north Bengal, he picked the latter. My research showed that medical education is better in south India. Besides, the teachers are more aware of the latest medical technologies and the syllabus is constantly upgraded, says Mitra who now studies at a medical college in Bangalore.
Like Mitra, a number of students are opting to study medicine in Karnataka. In the last three years, there has been a 20 per cent increase in the number of students applying to us for admission to medical colleges in Karnataka, says Nitin Kumar, head, Shiksha Education Consultancy, Bangalore.
The reason, according to Kumar, is both the quantity and quality of medical education available in the state. Karnataka has about 22 private medical colleges the highest number in any state in the country. And each college is allowed to admit 15 per cent students under the management quota. Students admitted under this quota pay a capitation fee, in addition to the regular college charges. Unlike other states, such as Maharashtra, capitation fee is legal in Karnataka. It ranges between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 30 lakh, he says, adding that capitation charges are the highest in the state.
Bangalores Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) reserves 40 per cent of its seats for students from outside the state. We allot 48 seats for non-Karnataka students every year, says M.K. Sudarshan, principal. He adds that about 10 per cent of these seats are usually filled by students from West Bengal.
Sudarshan says there is a growing demand for MBBS seats in Karnataka because private medical colleges in the state maintain a check on the quality of education. The state education authority allows an intake of 120 students in every college, every year. Since this is a small number, students get personal attention, he says. KIMS also has well qualified faculty and a range of super specialty courses. We have an 810 bed multi-specialty hospital, which offers services ranging from preventive medicine, forensic post-mortem facility, microbiology to biochemistry investigational facilities. This provides students a good learning ground, says Sudarshan. He adds that better infrastructure, teaching and discipline are attracting students to private medical colleges in the state.
When Shiladitya Mukherjee was preparing to enter a medical college, he was clear that he didnt want to follow in his brothers footsteps. My brother studied medicine from a government college in West Bengal. He complained of poor academic standards, says Mukherjee, who opted to head south for higher education. He is now in the second year of a MBBS programme at Sri Siddhartha Institute of Medical Sciences, in Tumkur, Karnataka. Mukherjee says he likes his college for the strict discipline it follows. You cant skip classes. Also, there is a big hospital on campus, so students get hands-on training with patients, he says.
His mother Dr Sujata Mukherjee, a consultant business development executive at two top hospitals in Calcutta, says, Many doctors educated in Bengal are quite unprofessional compared to those trained in southern states. Besides, most of them do not know how to communicate with patients. This is why hordes of patients from Bengal travel to south India for treatment. That is why Dr Mukherjee supported her sons decision to join a medical college in Karnataka, even though the course was quite expensive.
Says Supratim Kashyap, director, Career Consultants, Bangalore, Medical education has become a business in the state. You pay and study. But for most MBBS aspirants from outside the state, this is money well spent. Most private medical colleges in the state provide quality education the colleges have good infrastructure and faculty. This attracts students here, explains Kumar.
At Bangalores BR Ambedkar Medical College, the array of off-beat courses on offer are a draw for students, says principal Stanley John. We offer courses in many specialties, including cardio thoracic, plastic surgery and urology. So students have a wide variety of subjects to study. The college offers post graduate courses in 19 disciplines.
The college also actively promotes research, says John. Research work along with post graduate training is carried out by many departments. We also have a scientific society which provides a forum for monthly clinical meetings and presentation of research and dissertation work, he adds.
Its not just Bangalore. Medical colleges in Karnatakas small towns such as Gulbarga, Belgaum and Bellur are also drawing their share of students from outside the state. B.S. Patil, principal, Al Ameen Medical College, Bijapur, says that the off-beat courses offered by the institute including community medicine, otorhinolaryngeology and radio-diagnosis have helped the college find a place on the popularity charts. The college also has a 200-acre campus, with a 500-bed hospital and high-end sports facilities. This makes it an attractive education destination, adds Patil.
Alexander Chandy, director, public relations, Manipal University, agrees that Karnataka is becoming a popular MBBS destination because colleges provide an environment conducive to studies. Manipal, for instance, is the only university town in the country. So it attracts students from across the country, he says.
The exodus of future doctors from Bengal is likely to continue unless medical education in both private and government set ups is brought up to scratch.
■ Dr BR Ambedkar Medical College
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■ Kasturba Medical College, Manipal
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