NEW DELHI: India's medical education regulator has agreed to consider a proposal by the Dental Council of India to introduce a bridge course for dentists that will allow them to double up as general physicians.
DCI has floated the proposal after being urged by a number of dentists and dental surgeons who are interested in pursuing course that make their qualification equivalent to MBBS doctors, its senior office bearers said.
"We have taken up the proposal to the Medical Council of India and are hoping for a positive outcome. If we get a green signal, we will design, along with MCI members, the course structure and detailed curriculum for the bridge course," said Jayakar Shetty, vice-president of the DCI.
Another functionary at the DCI insisted that the move, when it comes through, will mean benefit for both dentist and general doctor fraternities.
"Many dentists and dental surgeons want to practice as general physicians and on the other hand, there is an acute shortage of doctors in the country. So it will be a win-win situation for everyone," he said.
"Also what BDS and MBBS students study in first three years is same-so it makes sense to introduce such a course."Vedprakash Mishra, chairman of the undergraduate committee at the MCI said that the proposal will be taken up by the governing body of the council and its merit will be "assessed".
He added that the proposal will also be discussed with the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. It is pertinent to mention here that the National Medical Commission draft bill, that proposes to replace the MCI with a 25-member Commission, had a provision of a short-term course for AYUSH doctors which would have allowed them to practice modern medicine.
The clause, however, was later dropped following a massive outrage by doctors, particularly Indian Medical Association-a body that represents large number of private doctors in India. In a later version of the bill, that is likely to be tabled in the parliament in the ongoing session, the government has left the decision of introducing the bridge course for AYUSH on states.
IMA, meanwhile, is opposed to the DCI idea too."We believe that any move to allow anyone who has not done the MBBS course to practice as doctors would be preposterous and will mean permitting backdoor entry to fulfil an unaccomplished ambition as becoming an MBBS doctor is not easy in India," said a senior IMA member.
"It is misleading to say that initial curriculum of BDS, MBBS or any other form of medicine is same as in the first few years all students of any branch of medicine are taught human physiology and anatomy. And those are bound to remain same for any stream."