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DNB equivalent to MD? Doctors divided

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Suraksha P    27 March 2018

BENGALURU: Last week, the parliamentary standing committee on health recommended that the Diplomate of National Board (DNB) qualification awarded by the National Board of Examination (NBE) shall be equivalent to Doctor of Medicine (MD), except in teaching. The recommendations were aimed as part of changes to be made in the proposed National Medical Commission (NBC) Bill.

“The DNB shall be equal in all respects to the PG qualification and the super-specialty qualification, respectively, as granted under this Act with the exception in teaching in medical colleges as they do not take DNB education in a medical college,” it said. While non-medical college hospitals offer DNB, medical colleges offer MD, MS, MCh, and DM. Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences is the largest health sciences university in India and colleges affiliated to it have been consistently ranked as top colleges.

Dr K S Ravindranath, former VC, RGUHS, said, “DNB training is not uniform throughout the state. There are some good centres but many centres are not up to the mark. The students may get away with theory marks. Practical exposure will not be adequate. After DNB, one year of experience is required in a Medical Council of India-recognised higher centre. Sometimes, DNBs are given in some district or corporate hospital where they may not get representative care and are not practically exposed. Theoretically, they may be qualified.” Volume of the hospital may not be adequate for them to become a consultant later, he said. “One cannot join a medical college if they want to serve as an assistant professor as per the proposed NMC Bill. Earlier, there was one-year experience requirement. In my opinion, this should continue,” he said.

“Hospitals like Sri Sathya Sai Super Specialty Hospital have volumes but many corporate hospitals may not have the required volume. You may only see coronary artery problems in a particular DNB centre, for example, but as a cardiologist, I know the subject involves not just coronary artery problems but multiple other cardiac ailments,” he said. About 70-80% hospitals are not geared up to train comprehensively, he said. “The MCI stipulates a certain number of out-patients and in-patients for hospitals attached to medical colleges offering postgraduate qualifications, whereas that stipulation is not there in DNB centres,” Ravindranath said.

Dr Sudarshan Ballal, chairman, Manipal Hospitals, said, “DNB is equivalent to MD or super-specialty qualification. However, that has been a bone of contention between MCI and DNB for a while. Some of the DNB training centres are smaller. Maybe the academic part of it like publications and so on may not be for a small centre as compared to a medical college.” “But, with respect to training and the ability to practice medicine, I would rate DNB very high. It probably has the most non-corrupt entry and exit exam in India today. Training and skill sets vary in medical colleges, not just in DNB training centres. There is a shortage of PG doctors and the government should increase DNB seats,” he said.

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