How FMGs can be the saviour at this hour of crisis for our overwhelming healthcare facilities?
Remember the Vietnam war? One of the longest wars humankind has ever waged and endured. It went on for almost 20 years. Both sides, be it the US or Vietnam suffered a huge loss in terms of life. Countless soldiers died on both sides. Yet, the war went on and on and on... To a point that both the armies started to recruit even the kids aged below 20 to step in for the loss of manpower. No one was spared and it was almost mandatory for a kid growing up to do his duties towards the nation by joining the military service. Such was the crisis. Such were the measures.
Fast forward 46 years, humankind is on the verge of yet another war, far more devastating than the ones we waged before. At least, this war is not against our own species. It is against a very different and resilient form of life; Viruses! For over a year and a half, humankind has been plagued by Covid-19, an air-borne disease with a high contagious coefficient. And what makes this war even more deadly than any other war is because you cannot even see your enemies. This virus has already claimed hundreds and thousands of lives daily and continues to do so. This virus is wreaking havoc all around the world and all our attempts to nullify the threat is coming to nought.
But with every adversity comes the rise of new possibilities, new leaders, brand new revolutions and life-changing experiences. In this case, our healthcare professionals, medical practitioners, doctors, nurses and other allied healthcare personnel became our first line of defence. They had to bear the brunt of this pandemic. But the virus is resilient and is in no mood of giving up. Due to the prolonged nature of this pandemic and waves after waves hitting different parts of the world, our first line of defence is wearing thin. Over the last 6 months, countless doctors lost their lives saving others, many others have suffered mental traumas while the rest of the healthcare professionals are exhausted, tired and are on the verge of mental & physical breakdown.
With the future looking so grim, maybe it’s time we look around for help from somewhere else! How about considering the Foreign Medical Graduates to rescue?
The Rise of the Heroes of The Hour: The Foreign Medical Graduates
Unlike the Vietnam War, this war against Covid needs specialised experts with years of experience and training and skill. We cannot randomly pick people to help the cause. But only those who have spent years of their lives studying and honing their clinical and healing skills. While our first line of defence, our frontline health workers are thinning down, we should equip ourselves with a second line defence consisting of final year medical graduates and medical graduates who are yearning for a license. It is at this hour, we need them the most to replace the elderly doctors and other tired and overworked healthcare professionals.
The Govt of India, recently announced that the final year medical graduates pursuing their degree in India will be allowed to join the Covid task force which constitutes only 11% of the total medical students available. However, when the push comes to shove, we will be needing far more doctors, nurses and medicos to help us out. Desperate times call for desperate measures and this is surely one of those desperate times. To even our odds of managing the Covid cases better in India, it is time we pull in the human resource from every source possible. We should tap into the 16% of available Foreign Medical Graduates here in India and deploy them to stand a chance against this unseen danger.
The second wave has been very devastating in India creating shortages of beds in the hospital, medicines for the patients, oxygen cylinders for the ailing, and various other essential amenities. Where most of these material requirements can be solved through investment and capitals and trades and funds, the shortage of healthcare professionals, doctors, nurses are irreplaceable. Hence, it has become more important now more so than ever before that we create a steady flow of quality healthcare facilities to keep up with the number of rising cases to minimize the damage and restore normality as soon as possible.
And one of the most readymade and apt ways to do it is to give our Foreign Medical Graduates a chance to step in at this hour of crisis and help our ongoing healthcare systems and every facility in every way they can.
Medical education in India has been very competitive, highly expensive and lacking in terms of quality. Because of this unbalanced ratio of the number of seats available to the number of applicants and the disproportion between expense and quality, every year over 15000 students opt to study Medicine abroad. The Philippines, China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan are some of the most preferred options for students to study MBBS abroad. And upon returning to their homeland, themajority of these FMGs are at par if not superior to the local graduates. And hence, it is quite unfathomable for us to comprehend the lack of attention the FMGs get in our country.
But now, it is not the time to play favourites. These Foreign Medical Graduates can be a blessing if strategically placed to help mobilize the Covid taskforce around the country for rapid response, improved awareness and catering to other daily care patients.
Main Talking Points From The Webinar:
Conducted by Rus Education on 5th May’21, the webinar was hosted by Dr Piya Malhotra. Dr David K Pillai was a guest of honour and was also joined by Dr Balwant Singh and other doctors and practitioners. The highlight of the discussion mainly centred around Foreign Medical Graduates and the scope of practice they can have in India. Various ideas, changes, suggestions were discussed keeping in mind the role the FMGs can play to help our country in this present dire scenario. Also, policies, scoring pattern, exam pattern for FMGE was discussed at lengths and live comments and views from the audience were also taken into consideration. Also, as a key highlight, the webinar acted as a support group for all Foreign Medical Graduates reaching out to them with assurance and unite the students under one common banner irrespective of the country in which they completed their degree. And finally, this webinar gave avoice to all the FMGs to put forward their concerns, the discriminations and other challenges they face daily and work towards a program to notify the govt. of India regarding the needs of these resources.
The minutes from the webinar are as follows:
- The Role of FMGs during the Covid Pandemic.
- Suggesting changes to govt regarding FMGE scoring pattern. It was pointed out that rather than keeping a cut-off, the candidates should be chosen on the basis of relative percentile.
- Allowing the FMGs to participate in Covid Taskforce.
- Consider workable compensations to FMGs in FMGE.
- Reduce the pressure on the existing healthcare system by giving the FMGs to participate in the Covid patient care. Especially the elderly doctors and those who worked long hours deserve a good rest and can be replaced by FMGs who can be supervised by senior personnel.
- Abolish the discrimination against the FMGs in terms of status, responsibility & pay.
- Common licensure examination for all students both local and FMGs to even the odds.
- Provide the healthcare professionals with better safety kits in general.
- And lastly, reach out to the government, National Medical Council (NMC) and other regulatory bodies to take notice of the FMGs and their plights.
Dr David K Pillai
Chairman of N M Wadia Hospital Pune
Strategic Partner- Davao Medical School Foundation, Philippines
Chairman - Poona Christian Medical Association
Dr Balwant Singh
Group COO CHL Hospital, Indore
Dr Manoj Yadav
Block Chief Medical Health Officer Bansur (Alwar), Rajasthan, India
Dr. Mitali Mahajan
Diabetologist and Nutrition Coach, Working in Mumbai
Formerly worked in PHC in Immunization Department
Dr. Arjuman Kapase
MBBS Intern, Civil Hospital Gurugram
Dr. Ajay Jasani
Senior Resident, Department of Orthopaedics, Bangalore Medical College
Dr. Anurag Shahane
CMO (Emergency Dept.) Smimer Hospital, Surat (Gujarat) India
Dr. Reema Gautam
Junior Resident, Neurosurgery Dept. Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi
Dr. Abdul Mateen Ayyub Bagban
MBBS, DDV (Skin Specialist) Dermatologists, Pune India
Dr. Davinder Kumar
MBBS Intern, Civil Hospital Gurugram
Dr. Vatsal Vyas
DMO, Orenburg State Medical University Alumnus
Dr. Sagardeep Singh Bawa
MBBS (MD) DNB Pediatrics
Department of Pediatrics
Hindu Rao Hospital & NDMC Medical College New Delhi
Dr. Soundharyaa Nagaraj
Covid Duty Doctor
Apollo Hospital, Vanagaram Chennai
Dr David K Pillai’s visionary views and word of assurance for all FMGs:
Having spent his entire life honing Foreign Medical Graduates, Dr David Pillai has always been making his stand for the FMGs and their wellbeing. And given the crisis our country is facing right now, adding more efficient healthcare professionals can only improve the situation which Dr Pillai vouches for. Given his years of experience and intense research on foreign medical schools and colleges, Dr Pillai is sanguine and harbours not even a shadow of a doubt when asked about the clinical exposure of the students in Davao Medical School Foundation. The webinar was joined by Dr Sagar, Dr Soundharyaa, Dr Abdul Mateen and Dr Mithali Mahaajan the successful and prominent ex-students and alumni of Davao Medical School Foundation who are currently practising in India.
Dr Pillai is hopeful this discrimination against the FMGs will stop soon and the govt will be bound to notice the plight of the FMGs for the greater good of the nation rather than individual gain. Dr Pillai will continue to strive for the FMGs all over the country and will not rest until every FMGs get the desired credit which they rightfully deserve. Dr Pillai also outlines the many fold crisis of the current situation including price rise in medicines and treatments. And highlights the route forward to navigate a happy journey for all the aspiring medicos.
Dr Pillai lastly has urged and shown tremendous faith in our young generation, especially towards the Foreign Medical Graduates ensuring they do not give up and keep striving no matter the consequence. The war against covid is damaging and we need all the help that we can get. Let’s start by placing the Foreign Medical Graduates in healthcare facilities to aid our nation come out of this ruin.
While we might have lost a few battles, we are yet to lose the War. And for reinforcements and backups, let us give our FMGs the golden opportunity they have been eagerly waiting for.