If chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is worried about the state of education in medical colleges, he has reasons enough, because private hospitals in the city are now making rapid inroads into healthcare studies.
If Calcutta Medical Research Institute (CMRI) is offering a DNB (diplomate of national board) course in surgical gastroenterology for the first time in eastern India, there are others like Peerless Hospital and BK Roy Research Centre, which is planning a private medical college and specialised para-medical courses for young graduates.
With medical education turning out to be a multi-crore affair, hospitals will not only be able to generate revenue for themselves, but also get quality manpower at relatively low cost, once these trained healthcare professionals are inducted into hospital service.
The fact that the Union health ministry and the state government (nursing) has approved the courses, makes them significant for budding doctors.
'The winds of change are blowing through Calcutta and most hospitals know they have a crucial role to play in creating a quality medical education system here. The biggest role the super-speciality hospitals can play is present the city with doctors with super-speciality credentials. If all of us can put our heads together, there is no reason why patients should leave the city,' opined Rupali Basu, general manager of Wockhardt Hospitals and Kidney Institute.
The hospital, which has just started a DNB course in urology, has laid out plans to start specialised courses for doctors in the field of nephrology and critical care. 'We will come up with these courses very soon,' Basu added.
With private hospitals planning to invest in medical education, the government can do little about the absence of quality teaching faculty in all the branches of medical education service.
'There is a genuine scarcity of medical teachers and infrastructure. We, however, welcome the initiative taken by the private sector,' said Gautam Mukherjee, secretary of the pro-government Association of Health Service Doctors.
The biggest attraction is the specialised course initiation in surgical gastroenterology by the CMRI. 'The ministry of health and the DNB council have approved the project, which is the first of its kind in this part of the country,' said surgical gastroenterologist Sanjay De Bakshi.
Doctors who have passed an MS (master's in surgery) or DNB in surgery can opt for the three-year course.
Similarly, Belle Vue clinic, one of the pioneers in promoting healthcare in the private sector, has laid out elaborate plans for providing non-invasive cardiology and nephrology courses and also start a nursing school in the near future.