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Dow University first-ever semester exams

First-ever DUHS semester exams from April 12
Karachi, March 29, 2008: The first ever semester exams of MBBS first year at Dow Sindh and Dow International Medical College will begin on April 12. According to DUHS Controller Examination Rashid Ali, papers of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry will be held on April 12, 14 and 15 respectively. The deadline for exam fees submission is April 2 and the fees is Rs 1,250. ppi

DUHS to set up 'skill labs' Karachi: 'Skill labs' will soon be set up the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) as well as the Sindh Medical College (SMC) where students will be trained in accordance with the trends in the profession, said the Pro-Vice Chancellor, DUHS, Professor Salahuddin Afsar at a workshop organised by the DUHS and the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) on Friday. This was done in collaboration with the ENT Department of the university.

Professor Afsar said that skills as well as knowledge are important for medical students, adding that the DUHS had established a Professional Development Centre four years ago, which had so far given training to students, post-graduates and doctors in more than 400 workshops.

The ENT department head, Dr Jawaid Alam, while stressing the need for improvement in the field said that cancer of the head and neck is on the rise. He said, that the oral cancer is the most common form of cancer in the country.

Dr Sultan Pradhan, a renowned surgical oncologist from India, performed live surgery observed by a large audience. He also demonstrated modern techniques of surgery. The News

Only 7% of our medical students want to become psychiatrists
Karachi: Only 7.6 percent of third-year medical students from four medical colleges, including two from Karachi, have reported psychiatry to be either their chosen career or a highly likely choice, a survey has revealed.

The findings of the survey have appeared in an article, 'Attitudes of Pakistani Medical Students Towards Psychiatry as a Prospective Career: A Survey' published in the April issue of the journal Academic Psychiatry.

These numbers are alarming, the researchers wrote. Pakistan is facing a shortage of psychiatrists; there are about 350 psychiatrists in a country of 150 million. The WHO Mental Health Atlas 2005 gives an estimated number of psychiatrists of 4.15 per 100,000 globally. There are about 2.8 psychiatrists per 100,000 people in Pakistan.

Relatively small numbers of students have identified psychiatry as their specialty of choice in other studies. Experts have earlier reported that out of 223 freshmen surveyed from three medical schools, only one student identified psychiatry as the career of choice in the US.

A total of 381 students in their third year in four medical colleges were approached to participate in the survey: Aga Khan University Medical College and Karachi Medical and Dental College, Punjab medical college, Faisalabad, and Ayub Medical College, Abbotabad. Sixty percent of the students responded and their average age was 21 years with a little over half women.

In Pakistan, third-year students go through general internal medicine and general surgery rotations, which bring some clinical perspective to their medical education. In all but one medical college (AKU), teaching of behavioral sciences and psychiatry is restricted to the fourth year and beyond. At AKU, behavioral sciences are taught from the first year. A psychiatry rotation is part of the fourth-year clinical schedule in which the students spend 24 weeks in the inpatient unit as well as outpatient clinics. There is great variation in the quality of these rotations; in some places (e.g., AKU), there is a structured rotation with end-of-term exams while at other places it may not be more than an observership.

There was also a significant difference between genders for the reason to choose medicine as a career. More females cited personal interest while males cited family pressure as the reason for choosing their career path. More males considered careers other than medicine prior to entering medical school.

Among those who rated psychiatry as their career choice, significantly more rated it very attractive or attractive in relation to lifestyle, interesting subject matter, intellectual challenge, rapid advances in understanding, having a bright future, and association with other psychiatrists. Significantly lower numbers of students who rated psychiatry as their first choice thought it to be financially very rewarding or attractive with respect to the degree to which this specialty draws upon all aspects of medical training.

More people in the group rated psychiatry as a chosen career as compared to the US but fewer as compared to Israel. A large number (over 60%) of the students had a negative view of psychiatry. At 7.6% the findings are close to the US figure of 7.7%, but far less then Australia (15.1%) and Israel (32.8%). This is not very encouraging. The situation becomes even bleaker when seen in the context of the already very low number of psychiatrists in Pakistan.

Perhaps Pakistani medical students in their early clinical years carry the biases toward psychiatry that exist in our society. They may also be reflecting the attitudes of their supervisors from medicine and surgery. One assumption is that the societal influence may decrease as the students progress in their career. Exposure to a psychiatric clerkship could also influence attitudes positively or negatively. Assessment of their attitude at year three therefore may have important implications and could be a weakness of the study.

The average age of entry to medical colleges is lower in Pakistan than in North America. Many of the students choose the medical profession to fulfill the wishes of their parents. It is not known how much the maturity level of students and attitude of parents would affect students' attitude toward psychiatry.

Similarly, increasing numbers of students are interested in studying abroad. This observation is based on discussions with our colleagues at different medical colleges. We do know, however, that a significant proportion of medical students pursue psychiatry in developed countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, and they later practice in those countries. In the United States alone there are about 10,000 Pakistani physicians training or practicing, and this number includes many psychiatrists.

Another relevant issue influencing the opinions of medical students could be the availability and quality of postgraduate training slots in Pakistan. At present, 17 institutions are recognized for training in psychiatry, having 100 trainees at levels 14. On average, only five trainees out of about 25 qualify each year in the exit level examination to practice as psychiatrists. The numbers of approved training posts are limited. Low passing rates and a shortage of approved training posts might discourage the interested candidates even further. Pakistan cannot even meet its needs for general health care given the current levels of production. The situation is worse for mental health.

A low number of locally trained and a tiny number of foreign trained psychiatrists leave the system with a dearth of role models for our students to look up to, thus maintaining a status quo in the areas of service and training. Daily Times
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