PMC: Rising fees and falling standards?

By Dr Yasir Israr

Medicine is regarded as the crème de la crème for a long time in the South Asian community. Considering the gold standard in education and a choice career for many, it is regarded as a stable future. It is an understatement to say that the gruelling curriculum can be survived by only the most hardworking and ambitious. Unfortunately, and there are very few things that can deter them.

The ‘transparent’ PMDC

Until recently, medical education was regulated under the umbrella of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council or PMDC. To clarify, the body was responsible to check and balance over the standard of education. The regulatory body was also responsible to enforce a centralised entrance policy, and fee structure.

However, there are ongoing clashes with many investors over its power to recognise or decertify institutions. The criteria are usually based on almost vague criteria at the investigators’ mercy. PMC has always defended itself vehemently for being transparent and on merit.

Doctors in the line of fire

Recently, the government enacted the PMC bill, which granted more autonomy to private medical institutes. The bill allows them to have their own criteria for merit including fee structure, and foreign candidates admission. As a result, the students, their parents, and the medical community, in general, arranged strike. The act was under fire as many felt that this would be detrimental to the struggling standard of medical education in the country. It also created many to doubt their dreams of quality medical education, by such a high fee structure. This will make a medical career a mirage for struggling students if there is a lack of an oversight committee.

The price of the Medical profession

Putting the case of private medical institutes aside, a large body of students consists of financially struggling students. However, considering our country’s financial status, it is still a struggle for many even to keep up with their current expenses. Thus, any hike in their tuition fee or registration fee would be doing no favours to many. However, PMC is not cutting any corners. Within a short time, they hiked the price of their registration fee from Rs. 1500 (previous PMDC fee for many years) to Rs. 2000 without any concrete argument for it.

Changing things for better or worse?

In conclusion, this does provide some questioning over the merits of PMC over the short period that it existed. It seems not to be providing any measure of positive change. Especially, in the face of their increasing fee structure and an almost unfair level of freedom to private medical institutes association.        

-The author is contributing writer at Dental News and can be reached at Follow Yasir on Instagram: @dr_yasirisrar

February 4, 2021

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