New horizons in medicine

A Diversity of Disciplines: MAHE’s Youngest College.

Manipal is home to a plethora of colleges, from the Department of Commerce on one end of town to Melaka Manipal Medical College on the other. Its range and diversity in the education it offers is so vast that most students ask “What college are you from again?” to new faces. It is a question that students of the International Centre for Health Sciences (under the moniker of ICHS), are all too familiar with hearing. These burgeoning doctors-to-be are the newest kids on the block.

When one discusses health sciences in Manipal, images of the Manipal Centre for Health Professionals and the Dental Sciences block often come to mind. When considering medicine, KMC reigns as the definitive corner of the town and the founding block of the university. What we often overshadow, however, is a program allowing Indian students to follow an American model of education by doing a “pre-medical” course. Engaging in this lets students complete two years of a Bachelor of Health Sciences Degree and then earn themselves a transfer to study their MD (Medical Doctor) degree abroad, in the Caribbean. Few know that Manipal offers a gateway to becoming a doctor with an American medical degree, to engage in clinical rotations in the United States, and eventually a residency. It is this academic and career pathway that students of ICHS pursue.

The program ICHS is designed to fulfil the overwhelming demand for doctors that the world increasingly asks. In the United States, where ICHS graduates’ practice, the educational pathway to earning the equivalent of an Indian MBBS takes 11 years (four years of undergrad, four years of med school, plus three years of internal medicine). Too many, such a path would be daunting, for low acceptance rates into American medical schools and the considerable amount of time often prove to be a financial burden. Therefore, medical schools exist in the Caribbean islands, offering fully accredited American medical degrees to both pre-medical students from the States and students from across the globe. The ones who have little to nil chances of getting into an American medical school but desire the educational experience such provides. Standing as one of the most prestigious amongst these Caribbean medical colleges in the American University of Antigua (AUA), established in 2004. In collaboration with MAHE (it’s current owners), AUA created a 2+4 program to feed students of ICHS directly into the former’s med school following completion of prerequisite courses in the Bachelors of Health Sciences program in ICHS, albeit with stringent academic standards. Only those undergraduate students with the requisite GPA may make it to become MD students in the Caribbean. In this, the quality of medical education is championed both by Manipal and domestic American medical schools are upheld.

The program offered by ICHS allows students to transcend traditional domestic MBBS education in India. Students of AUA could elect to do their clinical rotation in Canada, US, India or UK. Through this sheer variety of freedom, students from different countries and ethnicity would be studying together, making it a highly globalized learning experience. Various scholarships granted to students from distinct countries based on their performance. Exemplary students could elect to go to the University of Warwick in the UK and graduate as one of their students. The global MD program is also up for grabs to those who are interested in becoming doctors without borders. A new venture in the world of medical education, the validity of the International Centre for Health Sciences as a well-recognized institute of Manipal is yet to come to the fore may it be through its freshness or lack of publicity.

Written by Arul Kirubakaran and Vijay Senathipathi

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