Language has always been a big issue in India, and more so in Maharashtra and Bombay or Mumbai depending on which side of politics you're on. That it was a big issue in the field of medicine has only just started to receive prominence.I've been meaning to write about this for a long while now, but haven't got that push required. I think this week's post graduate examinations were just what I needed.
A twitter friend of mine is an examiner for Medical Students. The Consultant I work with is also an examiner for DNB (Diplomate of National Board) students. Both these intelligent and hard working doctors give up their precious time and practice to examine students in their viva-voce exams and decide whether they are fit to practice medicine. I always wondered how an examiner felt when coming across thousands of students, some of whom excel at medicine and some who are just about there with medicine but speak English fluently.
I would think that holding a command over the language would give the student an immense advantage over his counterpart who would falter in grammar, no matter where he stood on the knowledge scale of medicine. This comes from personal experience as well. I don't think I was even half as good as other students appearing for their examinations with me, but I could speak English well (almost better than half the teacher's taking my exam) and that gave me an upper hand.
From a patient point of view, the whole thing takes a rather wierd turn. Some people would prefer talking in their native tongue to their doctor and some would cringe if a doctor didn't know how to speak English well.
My view on this is that if the books are written in English and the syllabus is taught in English and the exams are conducted in English, the students must, simply must have a working knowledge of the language. That being said, would it be too bad an idea to have a compulsory cut off for English along with the Sciences that we need after college? Should English as a language be a subject along with Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry?
I think it should. Please let me know what you think....