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A Dialogue with Dr Aqeel Shaikh

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Dr Aqeel Ahmed Shaikh is one of the renowned dental surgeons in Pakistan, who served the country passionately and made great accomplishments as an Associate Professor of the prestigious Karachi Medical & Dental College (KMDC) since 1993 to date.

Dr Aqeel did his graduation from LMC in 1991 and in 2001 his post-graduation – MCPS (Operative) – from the College of Physicians & Surgeons, Pakistan. He also worked with Pakistan Dental Association, even when he was a student. After graduation he became an executive member of PDA. Presently, he is an elected Senior Vice President of PDA Karachi Chapter.

Dr Sheikh actively participated in many dental congresses and academic activities in Pakistan and abroad; in APDC 2006 and PDA 30th National and 10th International Conference in 2012, he served as chairman (Registration Committee) and Co-chairman (Trade).

Dental News recently took the opportunity to interview this busy dental practitioner. Following are the responses to questions asked about his personal and professional life and experiences.

Dental News: Your views on Postgraduate Training in Pakistan?

Dr Aqeel Ahmed Shaikh: In Pakistan, postgraduate training is either done by CPSP or universities. CPSP provides training in the clinic subjects of Dentistry. A few universities have also started programs in clinical and basic Dental subjects, due to shortage of Postgraduate faculties. The universities are finding it difficult to start or strengthen the program. I think universities should start sharing the resources, infrastructure and faculties which could help optimize the existing resources.

DN. How can undergraduate education be improved?

Dr AAS. The evolution of undergraduate education depends on: 1) quality of students; 2) infrastructure; 3) availability of senior/junior faculty; 4) adoption of updated curriculum; 5) teaching methodology and, 6) assessment. In Pakistan, institutions are focusing only on one or two aspects mentioned above. If PMDC and universities would like to improve the undergraduate studies, all stake-holders must deliberate on all the aspects and come up with concrete solutions.

DN. Recently PMDC announced 50/50 quota system for Male and female students. What do you say?

Dr AAS. The current debate on PMDC’s 50/50 quota system for male & female appears to be against basic human right and if I am not wrong, Lahore High Court has already given a decision against 50/50 quota system. On this basis, a male may get admission on 65% while the female, carrying a higher percentage, is denied the admission in a medical institution. I feel this decision should be revised before implementation.

DN. Disaffiliation of Dental Colleges from KU; Can it improve Dental education?

Dr AAS. The Disaffiliation of Medical / Dental Colleges from Karachi University, for me, is a mind boggling decision. If sanity prevails, no Medical and Dental professional would dare to de-recognize the University of Karachi. It is one of the oldest and prestigious Universities of Pakistan and has thousands of doctors as its degree holders. However, I understand University of Karachi did not keep pace with the essential requirements in the Medical/Dental profession.

University of Karachi oversees Medical / Dental education through a part time (medical) Dean and a clerk monitoring the examination process of Medical/Dental colleges. However, in my opinion, the solution is not de-recognition; rather it should have been persuasion on the part of the management of University of Karachi to improve and acquire more resources for the betterment of Medical/Dental education.

DN. KMDC is one of the disaffiliated colleges; so where can it be affiliated next?

Dr AAS. This is the question which is related to the policy. In my opinion, we should persuade PMDC to reconsider its unjustified decision. University of Karachi should seriously improve its resources to oversee Medical/Dental education. Here I would also like to say that; the announcement by University of Karachi to start a Medical College in haste is incorrect. Medical/Dental colleges should only be started after proper planning.

DN. As a Senior Vice President of PDA Karachi, what have been your accomplishments for the dental community?

Dr AAS. This question should be asked from other professionals about me, rather than myself. My attachment and commitment with Pakistan Dental Association has continued since I was a Dental student way back in 1985, I was an active member as a Dental student, then after graduation, I became an executive member and worked at a secretarial level. Later at a Chairman level in different conferences. Then I was offered a senior vice president’s post of PDA Karachi one year ago.

PDA Karachi is the most vibrant branch of the whole Pakistan. We started with a zero budget last year, I am proud to say PDA Karachi till date, has conducted twelve continuing educational programs, one conference on public health, two festivals, inter Sindh cricket tournament (first time in the history of Pakistan) and another feather in the cap is the regular publication of PDA Karachi. But still, I, along with other members of PDA Karachi would like to do more, but because of limited resources and lack of support by others, we are unable to carry out work which is required.

DN. What advice would you give to someone opening up a practice, nowadays?

Dr AAS. We have to remember, in our clinic the most important aspect is the satisfaction of the patient. In America they treat patients as clients and satisfy the patients. You should choose a clean area, equipments, designing & infrastructure. But for me the most important thing is competency of the dentist and the dentist must be aware of his/her limits because one dissatisfied costumer will repel many costumers. My advice for graduates is to start their only when they have acquired basic clinical competencies and after starting a clinic they should work hard, patiently and consistently for atleast two years

DN. Where do you see dentistry heading to, in future?

Dr AAS. I think the Future of dentistry is bright in Pakistan as whenever I meet the young, enthusiastic and motivated dentists, I feel more assured that the future of dentistry is in the right hands, for development of the profession.

DN. What are some of the key factors for a large and successful multi-specialty dental practice to grow?

Dr AAS. In the last 20 years, we can see that multi-specialty are growing its roots deeper and stronger. Multi-specialty only grows in a country where it is properly taught in Dental institutions. Where students learn to accept the roles of different specialties and also learn when to refer patients from one specialty to another. In this case PMDC also has to play a role by establishing  a specialist-register concept, which will regulate the professionals to practice within their respective specialty

DN. What advice do you have for a fresh graduate in the Dental profession?

Dr AAS. My advice, “live & optimize the present”. I mean, maximize whatever is available to you, learn from your teachers, colleagues and even the assistant. Improve your clinical skills & academic knowledge. Motto should be to improve the Dental health of the patient and never worry about money, just work hard with honestly and money will follow you.

December 27, 2014

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