Medical Science Education

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MEDICAL SCIENCE EDUCATION India has multiple medical systems, including Āyurvedic, homeopathic, allopathic, and unani; the most widely practiced and accepted is the allopathic medical system. After finishing high school, students go straight into medical school, based on their achievement in high school and their rank on the medical college entrance exam. There are two main types of medical schools, state medical schools and federal schools; the state schools require residence within the state in order to be admitted. Recently, schools owned by trusts have developed, and admission to these schools is based on high school performance and the size of a monetary donation to the school.

The course leading to a degree in medicine is five and a half years long, which includes four and a half years of didactic training and one year of compulsory rotating internship in various major disciplines, as compared to United States, where students are admitted for four years of medical school after finishing undergraduate work. A significant number of Indian students, after receiving their bachelor's degree in medicine and surgery (M.B.B.S.), continue on to specialized training in their fields of interest. This training may vary from three to four years in length, with the end result being a doctorate of medicine (M.D.) or masters of surgery (M.S.), depending on the field of specialization. A small number of the physicians pursue further studies to obtain doctorate of medicine (D.M.) or master of churgury (M.Ch.) in a subspecialty of their choice, which may require another two to three years of training.

Medical training in India is predominantly based on the European system of education, which includes not only didactic lectures but also time spent with patients to interpret the physical symptoms and signs in a diagnostic fashion, despite limited resources for expensive laboratory and radiological studies. Teachers who train the prospective doctors must adhere to the very strict requirements laid down by the Medical Council of India.

India has 229 recognized medical schools, and 25,000 students pass through these colleges every year. After completing the compulsory rotating internship, these graduates are required to be registered with the State Medical Council or the Medical Council of India in order to practice in the country.

The science of healing the suffering through natural herbs is the basic principle of Āyurvedic medicine. Founded around 5000 b.c., Āyurvedic medicine is one of the oldest systems still in practice today. The physicians who practice Āyurvedic medicine are called vaidyas. Ā yurveda is considered the "science of life," and its goal is physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being. In 1916 the government of India decided to develop this ancient and indigenous system on a scientific basis and to increase its usefulness. The vaidyas are trained in special medical schools dedicated to this traditional form of medicine; their education is five and a half years long. After the completion of this study, the students are awarded a bachelor of Āyurvedic medicine and surgery (B.A.M.S.). There are 196 Āyurvedic medical colleges in India that provide not only a bachelor's education but postgraduate education as well.

Another system of medicine practiced in India is unani medicine. It was founded by the great Greek philosopher and physician Hippocrates (460–377 b.c.) and it was introduced to India in a.d. 1351 by the Arabs. It is based on the principles of earth, air, water, and fire, all of which have different temperaments—cold, hot, wet, and dry. A new temperament comes intp existence after the mixture and interaction of these four elements along the simple and compound organs of the body. This system of medicine believes in the promotion of health based on six essentials: atmospheric air, drink and food, sleep and wakefulness, excretion and retention, physical activity and rest, and mental activity and rest. The diseases are diagnosed with the help of a pulse and physical exam of urine and/or stools. The practitioners of this system of medicine are called hakims. India has thirty-three unani colleges and 19,685 practicing unani doctors. There are 177 hospitals dedicated to unani medicine, with a total bed count of 3,892.

The German physician Dr. Samuel Hahnemann founded the principles of India's fourth system of medicine, homeopathy, two hundred years ago. Its roots originate in the Greek words homois (minute dose) and pathos (suffering). It is based on the "law of cure," which claims that a compound given in large quantities to normal person may cause symptoms of a disease, but that same compound in minute amounts to an afflicted person may result in the cure of that disease. This minute dose of the compound acts as a triggering agent to stimulate and strengthen the existing defense mechanisms of the body. Compared to other systems of medicine, treatment is individualized under the homeopathic system and is unique to each person with the same disease. Homeopathy was brought to India in 1878, and by 2005 there were 124 five-year homeopathic medical schools in India. Nineteen of these colleges are maintained by the state and the others are privately owned. After the completion of graduate or postgraduate work, the student receives a bachelor of homeopathic medicine (B.H.M.S.) or a doctorate of homeopathic medicine (D.H.M.S.)

The Central Council of Indian Medicine oversees the standards of education and its practice in all of India's systems of medicine. A Central Council of Research has also been established, dedicated to all the disciplines, to promote advancement.

Deeptee JainRajeev Jain, M.D.

See alsoHealth Care


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Gupta, Giri Raj. Social and Cultural Context of Medicine inIndia. New Delhi: Advent Books, 1982.

Jaggi, O. P., ed. Medicine in India: Modern Period. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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Shanbag, Vivek. A Beginner's Guide to Ayurvedic Medicine. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1999.

Siddique, Mohammed Khalid. State of Unani Medicine inIndia. New Delhi: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, 1995.

Sindhu, Virendra. Medical Colleges in India. New Delhi: English Book Depot, 1971.

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