People the world over have become more conscious of their health in recent decades. The life expectancy of Indians has increased considerably due to modern medical advances and intake of nutritious food. Despite the positive scenario, unforeseen accidents are also on the rise. In such situations the urgency of medical attention has to be complemented by timely care of paramedical personnel, or allied healthcare professionals as they are now called.
When a person is in a hopeless condition after an accident or when old age takes a heavy toll on an individual with vital organs not functioning well, it is a paramedical professional who helps the victim reach near-normal status. No doubt the medical professional happens to be the saviour. But once the patient reaches the convalescent stage, the service of an allied healthcare professional is paramount in restoring the essential basics of living through the promotive and rehabilitative dimensions.
It is indeed a reality that paramedical personnel are these days in greater demand in India and abroad as never before. In fact the courses training these professionals did not receive their due in earlier times. With the passage of time the health-seeking behaviour of people has changed and they have been appropriately sensitised to approach auxiliary healthcare personnel.
Traditionally, students have aspired to become doctors and engineers. Though welcome, this is not a dream-come-true experience for many aspirants. Numerous candidates enter the fray for limited MBBS seats, some with a view to fulfil the dreams of their parents, some trying to toe the line of others or model their life after others (reference groups as sociologists would call it), while some do it because of personal ambition.
If a candidate is unable to crack the competitive exam for the medical course in the first attempt, he may give it a go again. Even a third attempt is thought to be alright, considering the great importance attached to this course. But it would be prudent on the part of students to think about other avenues that command immediate relevance in the restoration of people’s health. Proceeding along alternative paths of education and employment can benefit them.
In state-run and private medical colleges in India approximately 65,000 MBBS seats are filled every year. Out of these an estimated 30,455 seats are filled by over 200 government medical colleges, while the remaining seats are filled by private colleges. In 2017 candidates numbering 11 lakh took part in NEET, while in 2019, the number has jumped to 15 lakh. This trend proves clearly the extent of importance attached to medical education by youth in India. But only 4-6 per cent of the candidates qualify and are able to pursue medical education. While financially well-off people manage to send their wards to medical colleges overseas, most others are not in a position to resort to this option.
Under these circumstances the students can pursue courses contiguous to the medical field without losing hope and shine in such branches. In fact there are a range of courses starting from certificate level upto Ph.D. So there is no reason why students should be worried as there are employment opportunities both in India and abroad.
For example, anaesthesia technology is a branch closely connected to the medical field. People trained in this get familiar with all types of equipment used in administering anaesthesia, the permissible dosage, etc. The services of anaesthesia technologists are absolutely essential in operation theatres, intensive care units and intensive coronary care units besides emergency wards where urgent and critical medical attention is needed.
And then there is the pharmacy course, which is very much related to the field of medicine. Some even pursue research in this branch and earn doctoral degrees. In the present day, it holds immense potential in view of a variety of complex issues. The declining efficacy of drugs, side effects from constant use of medicines and combination therapies from different systems of medicine make
pharmacy an expanding branch of science. Patient-specific treatments instead of a generic approach have also made it a promising discipline.
The demand for physiotherapists is steadily on the rise as health seekers of varied requirements approach them to get relief from orthopaedic injuries due to vehicular or industrial accidents, musculoskeletal problems, old-age complications, etc. Those who attain Bachelor of Physiotherapy (BPT) degrees render services through multi-specialty hospitals, fitness centres, sports clubs, gymnasiums, etc. Further, all official sports teams include a physiotherapist as much
as a coach. Other courses in the list of allied healthcare include radiography, audiology, etc.
But by and large these professions had remained without formal guidelines. For regulating and standardising education and services in this sector the Centre had given its timely nod through the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018, which will cover 15 major professional categories. The laws in the making will cover issues such as policies to be framed for education and practice, and uniform entrance and exit exams. It is believed that the Bill would benefit well over 8 lakh personnel in this segment and also help the budding professionals who would join their ranks after completion of their courses. This is a major step forward in infusing professionalism in the allied healthcare sector.
Former Head of the Department of
Sociology, Madurai Kamaraj University