The university strives to achieve high standards in medical education by providing excellent teaching and learning facilities.
THE Dr NTR University of Health Sciences in Vijayawada, established in 1986, is the country's first public medical university. The brainchild of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao, it is one of the best of its kind in the country in providing medical education of international standards. A large number of Indian doctors settled abroad are its alumni, commanding respect for their professional acumen. That there are more than 2,000 Indian American doctors hailing from a single government medical college in Andhra Pradesh speaks volumes about the efforts of the university to make pedagogy contemporary and provide cutting-edge expertise to its students.
Credit for this goes to Rama Rao, who established the university through an Act of the Andhra Pradesh Legislature. Established as the Andhra Pradesh University of Health Sciences in 1986, it was named after the actor-turned-politician after his demise. The university started functioning with just 28 affiliated colleges. Today it has 348 colleges imparting education in different fields of medicine modern medicine (31), dentistry (21), Ayurveda (7), homeopathy (5) and Unani (2) and medicine-related subjects such as nursing (193), physiotherapy (38) and medical laboratory technology (46).
The university offers undergraduate, postgraduate, diploma and super-specialty courses in modern medicine and a postgraduate course in applied nutrition. Degrees awarded by the university are recognised by statutory bodies such as the Medical Council of India (MCI), the Dental Council of India and the Central Council of Indian Medicine and also by institutes outside the country.
Meeting international standards in medical education is the sole objective of the university. In order to achieve this, the university is providing its students facilities that are comparable to those offered by the American Medical Association, according to Vice-Chancellor I. Venkateswara Rao and Registrar T. Venugopala Rao. Students passing out of the university have been keeping the flag of Indian health care aloft.
A uniform curriculum certified by the MCI is followed in all the affiliated colleges. The basic and advanced research programmes conducted by the university are of a high standard. These helped students adopt innovative and qualitative methods in health care and in the administration of medicines, inspiring confidence among patients, they said.
The administrators say that medical education must undergo need-based changes. It should be more community-oriented than hospital-centred. The university has entered into several collaborations at the national and international levels and has participated in workshops on problem-based learning with the Southern Illinois University of Medicine in the United States.
Integrated maternal and neonatal care in teaching hospitals got a shot in the arm following its tie-up with the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The Association of AP Medical Graduates of USA has offered training in basic and advanced life-support systems. The United Arab Emirates-based RAK Medical and Health Sciences University collaborates with the university in research and participates in students and faculty exchange programmes.New campus
The Dr NTR University has set for itself the daunting task of building an academic campus with ultra-modern facilities on a 30-hectare land belonging to the TB sanatorium on the banks of the Krishna at Mangalagiri in Guntur district. It plans to shift all academic activity from its present premises in Vijayawada to the new building. The land has already been allocated to the university. Once it becomes fully operational, an online counselling facility will come up on the new premises. This will end the present practice of putting makeshift tents on the lawns of the administrative building in Vijayawada every now and then for candidates who come to the university for counselling almost throughout the year.
Venugopala Rao told Frontline that with these facilities in place, new clinical scenarios would be established to provide advanced training to students and teachers. True life' mannequins would form part of the full-body computerised simulator that is to be installed on the new campus. The MCI has made it mandatory for all medical colleges to have a basic skills laboratory with training simulators.
Venkateswara Rao said getting accreditation for all medical and dental colleges to provide quality education was on top of the agenda. The university is streamlining the admission process and installing biometric attendance for all faculty members in the teaching institutions. A complete reform of the evaluation process is also among some of the other important targets.
The university's executive council says that promoting research and publishing, e-learning along with traditional classroom work and a continuous faculty training programme will raise pedagogy to international standards. As an extension of its activity, the university also proposes to begin a career guidance and counselling centre and centres of excellence in the affiliated colleges to promote research activity.
Achieving good quality in education is not the only focus area of the university. It aspires to produce doctors who empathise with patients, uphold professional ethics, and develop into socially responsible persons.