Status of Paramedical courses in IndiaSeptember 10, 2014
Paramedical education in India is highly disorganised.In India, as is the case with many other countries, the doctor is supreme and paramedical staffs are not given much importance.
According to a report by the Planning Commission of India, the country needs as many as six lakh doctors, 10 lakh nurses and huge numbers of paramedics. In fact, in primary healthcare centres (PHCs) alone, there is a shortage of 54,037 specialists and paramedical staff.
As DrPradeepBhardwaj, a medical expert and visiting professor at Harvard, IIM-A, ISB, among others, points out, “There is no regulatory body as far as paramedical education in India goes; so most of the staff are trained on the job.”
Apart from a few top hospitals, 80% paramedical staff engaged in emergency healthcare in hospitals do not have basic infection control training, with doctors admitting that 80% paramedics also do not know how to insert a cannula (tube for delivering or removal of fluid) in a patient.
To cut costs, many private paramedical training institutes do not use dummies, syringes and other equipment essential for equipping students with the right skills to handle patients.
80% paramedics do not have basic training, with many unable to even insert a cannula in a patient, tell doctorsJeevanPrakash Sharma and GauriKohli in the concluding part of our series on paramedical education
“The less said about the standards of paramedical training in our country, the better. People have opened shops to make money and not to train people properly and it’s unfortunate to know that they don’t have any concern for a patient’s life. A student can’t learn unless you make him or her practice various important medical procedures, but that would mean increased training costs. Institutes don’t want to spend money on providing essentials for training such as syringes, sanitisers, gloves and cannulas. How will students then learn how to administer injections or take blood for testing?” asks Dr O P Yadav, CEO, National Heart Institute, Delhi
To improve the status of paramedical courses, NSDC has taken a step.The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has identified 29 job profiles for paramedics, will allow students to complete their training programmes at their convenience.
The National Development Skill Corporation (NSDC) is trying to enhance the skills of people training as paramedics. It will set standards and draw a curriculum for paramedical training in India. As of now, NSDC has approved the Healthcare Sector Skill Council (HSSC), one of the 31 sector skill councils across different sectors in India, which has devised a national occupational standard of training of paramedics in consultation with top hospitals, doctors and other stakeholders of the health sector.
Says DilipChenoy, MD and CEO, NSDC, “Till date, the NSDC Board has approved 150 training proposals, creating the capacity to train 80 million people by 2022. The courses offered by our training partners are affiliated to the HSSC, which will set standards and ensure quality assurance in line with the industry requirement.”
The Council is also engaging with its counterparts in other countries like Germany, UK, Australia and others, to implement the best practices in the skilling space from all across the world.
Internationally, too, there are not many countries that have recognised full-time courses or training modules for paramedics. In Canada, as Marc Bavin, associate director, strategic partnerships and international student initiative, The University of British Columbia (UBC), explains, the rules and regulations vary with provinces. “There are no specific standards that govern paramedical education in the country. For instance, many community and technical colleges offer certificate or diploma courses in paramedical sciences. While in British Columbia, these courses range from six months to 11 months, in Ontario, colleges offer two to four year courses. All paramedical staff come under the Paramedic Association of Canada,” he says. Since students pursuing medical sciences in Canada have to do their pre-med before joining a medical school, they get a basic training across most medical and paramedical disciplines.
For improving the skills of their paramedics, a few top hospitals have associated with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to start specialisedprogrammes. “We have diploma programmes in medical laboratory technology, X-ray and imaging, medical record technology and operation theatre technology course in collaboration with IMA,” says Maj Gen (Dr) L R Sharma (retd), additional director medical services, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals. The hospital has about 320 paramedical staff in various departments. Another option for other hospitals is recruiting paramedics from reputed and government-recognised institutes though a proper screening process so treatment of patients is not compromised with.
“We recruit paramedical staff from various leading institutes and universities like colleges of Delhi University, Hamdard University and some private institutions affiliated with various universities in and around Delhi, especially in Punjab and Haryana,” says MalvikaVarma, senior vice president- human resources, Max Healthcare. Max Hospital, for instance, has 1100 paramedical staff working in specialist areas such as physiotherapy, emergency medical technicians, pathology technicians, radiology technicians, OT technicians, pharmacists, blood banks, and so on.
Even government hospitals like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ram ManoharLohiaetc hire paramedics from government-recognised and well-known colleges such as University Colleges of Medical Sciences (Delhi University) etc.