Medicine: Numerical Strength Vs Quality Care

Doctors Cannot Go the Way of Unemployable Engineers

It is not just the gap between the rich and the poor in India that is widening, even the doctor-engineer ratio is in decline, as this report points out.

You can hardly expect solutions from the country’s crop of leaders who hold the reins for five years and spend the time devising strategies for winning again at the hustings so they can cling on to power.

But then engineers are in a profession that involves logical reasoning and problem-solving, including developing instrumentation that help doctors in diagnosis and treatment with machine-enabled precision. Medicine has seen such big technological advances that they help redefine healthcare, thanks to collaboration between doctors and engineers.

Medical Technology

stethoscope on a keyboard in cool blue –

Picture from http://www.nzbio.org.nz/look-major-changes-coming-medical-technology-year

Innovations Enhancing Healthcare

Biomedical engineering is one of the disciplines that help bring innovations for enhancing human health. So are electrical engineering and mechatronics. Almost every medical breakthrough has seen this bond deliver – from pacemakers and CT scans to defibrillators and robotic systems for remote surgeries and more.

This New Jersey Institute of Technology site captures the essence of it all. Or, this American Society of Mechanical Engineers piece that goes into some of the biggest advances in medical technology, including Nanotherapy, software developments and wireless technologies that help detect and treat chronic conditions.

But then this post is about the deepening gap between doctors and engineers in India that is affecting healthcare.

Medicine plus engg2

Photo from http://graduatedegrees.online.njit.edu/msee-resources/msee-infographics/mechatronics-how-electrical-engineers-are-impacting-health-care/

Women in Engineering

The software engineering part is what that has caught the fancy of Indians. While highlighting the gap, the LiveMint report does not fail to touch on how the country has been producing unemployable engineers.

This has been brought out through several studies, including this one, which shows 80% of the engineers are unemployable with Tamil Nadu accounting for the largest number.

According to the report, between 1985 and 2016, India added more than 48,000 seats per year to its engineering colleges while for medical colleges, the increase was just above 1000 a year.

In the past men have generally dominated engineering while women were seen showing greater interest in medicine. But women have been making big inroads into engineering as this report shows, many of them involved in steering medical research.

Killing Fields

If India produced as many (unemployable) doctors as engineers, hospitals will run the risk of becoming killing fields. Government hospitals are already there.

Medicine involves life and death while engineering, at least the ones India produced in droves, largely computer programming / coding. I hold medicine as the noblest of all professions but risk-free healthcare is essential.

Patients entrust their health and life to doctors and it is the responsibility of governments and institutions to ensure availability of quality physicians, surgeons and other medical personnel.

There are many silly countries ready to hire the engineers who rank low in terms of employability but there are many that do not recognise Indian medical degrees.

Hybrid-Operating-Room

Image from the Net

Telemedicine and Remote Care

Shortage of doctors is acute not just in India, but worldwide, including in Singapore, the United Kingdom and several other advanced countries. Telemedicine and delivery of health through remote means, tapping high-speed broadband connectivity and outsourcing are, therefore, gaining ground.

Quality practitioners of medicine are more important than a big bunch of doctors who mess with people’s lives. India does need numbers but they will have to come with long-term planning that draws bright minds into medicine and bridge the gap with engineering.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Filed under General, Medicine and Engineering

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