Dentists may be allowed to practice medicine

The government of India is currently considering a proposal from NITI Aayog to create category of “mid-level” health providers by allowing dentists to practice mainstream medicine.

Earlier this month, a meeting was held at Prime Minister’s office to discuss “scaling up of medical education in India” wherein, as per an official note, it was decided to explore the option of allowing dentists to practice family medicine/mainstream medicine following bridge course.

A high level meeting in this regard is in offing to “leverage dentists to provide primary health case” thereby reducing the gaps in current shortfall of doctors in the country.

Last year, Dental Council of India (DCI) had meetings with Medical Council of India (MCI) wherein the DCI had argued that this was a “feasible move” that could benefit dentists and address the doctor shortage since the BDS and MBBS courses have a similar curriculum for the first three years.

The Indian Medical Association had opposed the idea. Earlier this year, NITI Aayog in the National Medical Commission Bill meant to replace the Indian Medical Council Act had also proposed a bridge course for AYUSH doctors.

The course, as per the proposal, would enable Ayush doctors to practice allopathic medicine and reduce the shortage of doctors in rural areas. The proposal met with stiff resistance from all quarters and was put in cold storage later.