Why Should Only Medical Doctors be Teaching Pharmacology & Therapeutics?
Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics cannot be taught by non-clinical personnel. This will lead to the destruction and collapse of medical education in the country. Following are the major reasons in our humble opinion:
Pharmacology is the Mother of all Clinical Sciences
All consultants, whether surgeons, gynecologists, obstetricians, ophthalmologists, anesthetists etc and general physicians prescribe drugs.
Therefore they should be having the pre-requisite knowledge of study of interaction of drugs on living organisms.
This includes therapeutic uses, adverse drug reactions, drug interactions, contraindications of different drugs.
Only clinical pharmacologists can provide basic and correct application of knowledge about drugs.
Pharmacology is the Link between Basic and Clinical Medical Sciences
Only Pharmacologists with MBBS degree have the prerequisite knowledge of physiology, biochemistry and pathology to teach pharmacology & therapeutics/clinical pharmacology.
Medical pharmacologists form the base for their clinical understanding of disease, by correlating the physiology that the students have already studied and systemic pathology, that they would study in the coming year and integrating it with therapeutics.
Teaching of Pharmacology & Therapeutics with Clinical Scenarios
Since last decade or more, pharmacology is now being taught with clinical scenarios
It is also being assessed in MCQs, SEQs, OSPEs with clinical scenarios
Importance of Therapeutics
Therapeutics is the application of the knowledge of pharmacology in the treatment of diseases
For this pathophysiology of the specific disease is taught in pharmacology lectures before each topic
Again this would be much better done by medical pharmacologists.
Only with sound knowledge of Pharmacology & therapeutics conveyed to medical students will they become good clinicians/consultants.
Other Objectives of Teaching Clinical Pharmacology
Teach medical students safe and effective prescription writing
Teach students to choose correct P-Drugs: the right drug, for the right person, right duration, at the right place and time etc.
This will help them in future clinical practice in maximizing beneficial drug effects and minimizing adverse drug reactions
Some Specific Examples
Pharmacology of the cardiovascular system can only be best taught by medical professionals
One has to understand normal cardiovascular physiology, types and pathophysiology of angina, heart failure, arrhythmias to effectively teach anti-anginal, anti-arrhythmic drugs and drugs used for treatment of heart failure.
Drugs acting on CNS including drugs for Parkinsonism, anti-psychotics, anti-epileptics, anti-depressants, drugs for bipolar disorder etc are specialized clinical topics that can only be taught by medical graduates.
Drugs acting on the autonomic nervous system are an integral part of Pharmacology syllabus and are best taught using clinical scenarios.
Endocrinology is a very complicated system and is very intricately related to physiology. Recent pharmacological advances in the top metabolic disease diabetes mellitus and other conditions like thyrotoxicosis are best taught by medical professionals.
Drugs related to gynecology and obstetrics cannot be taught by non-medical teachers
All these require sound knowledge of symptomology of the diseases that can again only be taught by medical doctors.
No Dearth / Deficiency of Qualified Pharmacologists
Presently there is no dearth of qualified pharmacologists with MPhil and PhD degrees in Pharmacology and Therapeutics and many more are being registered every year.
Previously a decade or more back, there was a deficiency of medical graduates with postgraduate degrees in Pharmacology, but not anymore.
In fact there is now a surplus of medical faculty in the country.
Medical students have a right to quality medical education.
This can only be provided by quality medical professional teaching faculty
Integrated/Modular Teaching System
This is being fully or partially implemented in many medical colleges of the country with various extent of horizontal and vertical integration.
In this system, problem based learning (PBL), case based learning (CBL) and many other modern innovative teaching strategies are being applied.
Only medical professionals will be able to effectively apply these new teaching strategies.
Pharmacology Taught by Medical Personnel in UK
Even in the UK and other countries, pharmacology is mostly taught by clinical pharmacologists who have basic degree in medical sciences.
Non-Medical Teachers NOT suitable for the job
Thus teachers not taught the required clinical knowledge in their syllabi will NOT be able teach pharmacology as per MBBS requirements
Non-medical teachers do NOT have any clinical exposure to patients in hospitals or clinics. Thus they will little idea of the symptomology of the diseases.
Similarly they have little idea of the pathophysiology of diseases and are unable to fully explain to the medical students.
It has been seen that feedback of non-medical teachers is not satisfactory where most students are left unsatisfied with their method and application of teaching including of Pharmacology
Moreover most or none of them have any training in medical education; not attended any faculty development programs.
Many have been seen to be hesitant in delivering lectures to medical students.
Mostly medical faculty is allowed to check MBBS papers in University examinations and be appointed as internal and external examiners in university examinations of MBBS and BDS .
Non-medical teachers will mostly be governed by their own respective councils e.g. pharmacy council. They may not require registration with PMC and may also work in more than one institute; thus there will be no check and balance.
They will not be held accountable for their conduct, etiquette and code of ethics for medical professionals.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to avoid from inducting non-medical teachers in medical colleges in order to ensure and maintain the high standards of medical education in the country.