Looking beyond MBBS

Beyond MBBSDr. Ali Khwaja, eminent career counsellor, outlines the wide range of alternatives for those who wish to pursue the medical field, work in health care, or contribute to the welfare of society.

Look beyond MBBS - What are you good at?

Ashwini was quite happy when she got her CET results, and thought that she has come close to her goal of becoming a Doctor. The results initially gave her hope of fulfilling her dream, but when the counselling took place, she realized that her ranking was not high enough to get a merit seat. “Right from childhood I wanted to be a doctor” sighs Ashwini. “I worked so hard for it. Biology has always been my favourite subject and I am very keen to be useful to society. It is such a noble profession.”

I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter - Walt Disney
Looking Beyond MBBS
Credit: Walt Stoneburner, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com

Ashwini is not alone in her dilemma. There are perhaps thousands who have dreamt for years and years of becoming doctors. Medicine is one course that has stood out compared to others. Every medical student gets hands-on experience for years, and even after qualifying all the exams, there is a one-year internship that puts the student through rigorous “on-the-job training” that includes rotation in all departments and all shifts.

It is not a question of whether medicine is a good career or not. It depends on WHY any person wants to be a doctor, and what his or her expectations are. In order to know whether you will make a good doctor or not, tick off the following check-list:

  • Are you good in biology, and do you enjoy life sciences?
  • Are you good in chemistry and can you analyze well?
  • Do you have a good memory, sharp concentration and good retention?
  • Are you willing to work hard for many years to become a qualified medical professional, and then a few more years to become a specialist? Can you delay gratification when all your peers may be earning big money while you continue with your studies?
  • Do you enjoy interacting with different type of people, and do you have good communication skills?
  • Do you have good physical stamina and the ability to keep long and erratic hours?

If you have answered yes to most of the above questions, you are likely to do well in the medical field. But not getting a medical seat could spell the end of your dreams, right? Wrong.

Ashwini did not lose hope. As soon as she found that she is not getting an MBBS seat, she enrolled for a four year degree Bachelor of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology (BLSPA), offered by a college affiliated to Bangalore University, and she is now happy that she will be working with children who have hearing impairment, speech defects and other related problems. She was also pleasantly surprised to learn that last year’s BSLPA graduates have all acquired good jobs, either in Government hospitals, or abroad. Some have set up their own clinics and are looking forward to being self-employed professionals.

Unlike Ashwini many students are not aware that there are very good alternatives to MBBS, if you wish to work in the medical field. To start with, you still have an opportunity to join:

  • BHMS (Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery)
  • BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery)
  • BUMS (Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery).

Each of these are of the same duration as MBBS, and include internship, enabling you to register in the respective medical council for licence to practice as a Doctor. There are three year post-graduate MD courses also in each of these fields. Karnataka now boasts of dozens of colleges in these streams of medicine, and the fees is much lower than what one would pay for MBBS.

The famous Vivekananda Kendra for Yoga has now been given a deemed university status, and offers a 5-1/2 year Bachelor in Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences (BNYS), which also makes you a holistic doctor. Details are available on www.svyasa.org, and admissions are open.

For others, there is the five-year BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) which can be followed by a three-year specialization through MDS, the four-year B.Sc. Nursing, and the four-year B.Pharma. In each of these fields, higher studies and specialization is available. Though there is a slight surplus of dentists currently, the situation is likely to improve very soon, and there will be a greater demand in the years to come.

What Ashwini chose was only one of a dozen different paramedical courses ranging from three to four and half years, such as Operation Theatre Technology, Dialysis technology, cardiac technology, Medical Records, Speech and Audiology, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Medical Lab Technology, Radiography, Optometry, etc. Many of these fields also offer shorter diploma courses. Visit institutions like St. John’s Medical College, Baptist Hospital, Samvaad Institute of Speech and Hearing (Ph: 55351150), S.R. Chandrashekhar Institute, Hosmat Hospital, etc. and explore this highly lucrative and fast growing field. Admission is comparatively easier, courses are of shorter duration, and there is tremendous job satisfaction in improving quality of life of human beings.

For those who wish to carve a new path and serve people with special needs, Mobility India (www.mobility-india.org) at JP Nagar, Bangalore, (Phone: 26597337) offers a Bachelors in Prosthetics and Orthotics, i.e. aids and artificial limbs for the disabled. It gets you a degree from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) and is recognized by Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI).

If you have a love for animals, you may opt for a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc) and become a doctor for animals. This course is offered at various colleges affiliated to the University of Veterinary and Fisheries Sciences, headquartered at Bidar.

And in case you would like to combine health-care with technology, then a few selected colleges in Karnataka offer B.E. in Medical Electronics or Biomedical Engineering (through CET and COMED-K). Medicine is becoming very high-tech and these technologists will play a significant role in saving lives and facilitating medical procedures.

If you are a people’s person with leadership qualities, then after any of the above mentioned wide variety of courses, you can take up a two-year Masters in Hospital Administration (MHA), or post-graduate courses in Health Care Management. These are offered not only locally, but also by prestigious institutions like BITS-Pilani, Administrative Staff College of India, Apollo Hospitals, etc. Similarly, you can take up study of psychology at the degree and post-graduation level, and then compete for a seat in the two-year M.Phil. in Clinical Psychology offered by NIMHANS, AIIMS etc., and become a mental health professional.

So, if you have a dilemma like Ashwini but have been unable to get a seat in MBBS, do not leave your dreams and move away into unrelated fields you may not be happy with. You can be a successful professional in the medical field, by selecting any of the above alternatives. Admissions are open in most of the courses if you take a decision fast and move ahead. You will not regret it, and you will be proud of being a person who took the road less traveled and became a pioneer in serving humanity (while earning a good income for yourself).

In a nutshell, alternatives to MBBS

  • You can still become a qualified physician in the alternative streams of medicine viz. Homeopathy (BHMS), Ayurveda (BAMS), Unani (BUMS), Naturopathy (BNYS), etc., which are also professional courses of 5-1/2 year duration
  • You can become a dentist by doing a five year B.D.S. course, and then choose out of nine specialization in dental surgery i.e. a three year Masters in Dental Surgery (MDS).
  • You can become a veterinary doctor by taking up a 4-1/2 year B.V.Sc. course offered by colleges affiliated to Karnataka Veterinary University.
  • You can take up nursing by a four year B.Sc (Nursing) course, and later specialize by M.Sc. in Operation Theatre, Pediatrics, Psychiatric nursing, etc.
  • You can take up various paramedical fields. There are four year degree courses in fields such as physiotherapy, speech & hearing, optometry, radiography, dialysis technology, etc. and also three year B.Sc. courses in medical lab technology etc.
  • You can study nutrition and dietetics at the undergraduate and post-graduate level.
  • You can take up a four year course in Pharmacy (B. Pharma) dealing with medicines and pharmacology, and also specialize through M. Pharma.
  • You can take up a four year engineering course in medical electronics, or bio medical engineering,
  • You can do a degree in any field, and then do a Masters in hospital administration. Similarly there are post graduate courses in health management, disaster management.
  • You can study psychology at B.A. and M.Sc. level, and then qualify as a clinical psychologist by a two year M.Phil. course in Clinical Psychology in an institution like NIMHANS, AIIMS etc., which qualifies you to diagnose and treat persons with mental illness.

Career Guidance

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