At whose cost?
Both institutions need a stable faculty
COMMON SENIORITY BY RUMANA MAKHDOOMI
MASS exodus of doctors from Kashmir during turmoil left the Govt. Medical College (GMC), Srinagar faculty starved. It managed however those tough years, banking on its committed staff and faculty who delivered amidst death and disaster. We remember those days when we as MBBS students were taught with commitment by the staff which overworked for us and for the institution. Thanks to all those who kept the candle of medical studies burning amidst the hostile winds…. despite receiving no recognition and no encouragement from any corner.
As the tense years of turmoil eased out a bit, we looked forward to GMC, Srinagar, getting back what it had lost and climbing up to the slot where it was before turmoil. Nothing really changed here – we witnessed that too as we were inducted into post-graduation in our Alma mater in the year 1999. Pathology was the subject I chose for post-graduation, as I went ahead pursuing my dream, little realizing how much struggle and pain I would encounter on my way towards my goal. The Department of Pathology, GMC, Srinagar was a well equipped, postgraduate department with a reasonable faculty strength and versatile and experienced professors on the rolls. That was in year 1999 and I was on the moon!
Within a year or two of my joining the department, senior faculty members retired and the department was left with just two members to carry on the hospital work, MBBS teaching and postgraduate teaching. A senior faculty member from GMC, Jammu was promoted and transferred to GMC, Srinagar. Government responded to the depleted faculty alarm and recruited four faculty members; three of them were from Jammu. They all opted mind you for GMC, Srinagar. With these four new recruits and the posting of senior faculty member to GMC, Srinagar – the problem seemed to be over. But it was not to be….
All the four faculty members managed to get themselves transferred to GMC, Jammu within a year of their appointment – one noble soul managed it within a month. Four faculty members appointed to meet the scarcity of faculty in the department of Pathology managed to flee – citing security reasons. Hundreds of students from Jammu studying in MBBS and Dental Courses were secure, though…
The two faculty members carried the burden of teaching undergraduates and postgraduates besides carrying out the hospital work. Our postgraduate teaching program suffered and we in turn were given the job of teaching 3rd year and 4th year medical students. We took the challenge alright. We were beginners, the ones who did struggle in front of a large audience of bright and sharp minds. We knew our position, we weighed nano-grams compared to the weight of the stalwarts who taught in these lecture theatres sometime back. We were teachers by default, humbled by lack of knowledge and experience!
The department of Pathology which was running its postgraduate program for more than four decades was in problem. The MCI inspection for recognition of postgraduate courses offered by the department took a serious note of dearth of faculty and derecognized the department in the year 2004 stopping admission to the postgraduate courses. So we, the ones who qualified postgraduation from this department were left with an ‘unrecognized degree’ to go further in our profession. Unrecognized tag was a painful companion which followed us whenever we went. It hurt when we were called ‘The unrecognized lot’. We could not apply anywhere even SKIMS rejected our application forms as their requirement too for faculty was an ‘MCI recognized postgraduate degree’.
Meanwhile we went from pillar to post – some people understood our problem and some didn’t. Two more faculty members were meanwhile recruited and they too were from Jammu. No grudges against them, they did what their predecessors had done ‘flee to Jammu along with posts….’ More MCI inspections followed, some stop gap arrangements were made, some contractual appointments made but that was not enough. Recognition required permanent full time staff – turmoil was no concession!
It surprised many that the Pathology department of SKIMS was also in trouble. The single recognized faculty member who was a guide too, was retiring and pass-outs from GMC, Srinagar followed. The postgraduate program was about to close – and the future of Pathology in Kashmir was dismal!
What followed was a Herculean task. The government took up the matter seriously, then Chief Minister, top officials in the administration and the then Head of the Department of pathology, GMC, Srinagar took up the matter with Ministry of health, Govt. of India and MCI and finally in the year 2007, Pathology department, GMC, Srinagar was recognized giving a new least of life to all those postgraduates who had qualified from this department for the last nearly five decades. Pathology survived at GMC, Srinagar and at SKIMS, Srinagar. Pathology was not the only department that suffered. Sixty one faculty members from GMC, Jammu managed to get themselves transferred/retained at GMC, Jammu though they were promoted/appointed on GMC, Srinagar posts. It affected the functioning of GMC, Srinagar, decreased the intake capability of postgraduates and gave many other departments especially the basic sciences lot of problem. Other colleagues of ours also suffered ‘unrecognized degree’ syndrome..
The government somehow after these mishaps recognized that GMC, Srinagar and GMC Jammu needed to have their faculty separated. Thus the landmark decision by the government to separate the seniority of the faculty of two medical colleges was enforced. This decision saved Pathology and many other Departments. In a span of three years there was an improved faculty position and eight departments were recognized by MCI.
It is high time Medical College, Srinagar and Medical College, Jammu are treated as individual institutions and upgraded to the level which they deserve. We wish prosperity for GMC, Jammu but don’t wish plunder for GMC, Srinagar. There should be more autonomy for both institutions which will help them to identify their own requirements and chart a road map for their up-gradation. Making the faculty run from Jammu to Srinagar or vice versa will do no good – a stable faculty is something which both institutions deserve. Give them that please!
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Lastupdate on : Thu, 6 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 6 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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