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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 182

Graduate medical research in India: Where are we today?

1 University College of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Surgery, University College of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication19-Sep-2017

Correspondence Address:
Rohan Shad
University College of Medical Sciences and GTB Hospital, Dilshad Garden, New Delhi - 110 095
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_60_16

How to cite this article:
Shad R, Sharma N. Graduate medical research in India: Where are we today?. Educ Health 2017;30:182

How to cite this URL:
Shad R, Sharma N. Graduate medical research in India: Where are we today?. Educ Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Jan 28];30:182. Available from:

Dear Editor,

Research activities conducted by medical students in India are scarce.[1] The medical curriculum in India, as stipulated by the Medical Council of India (MCI), is an intensive 5 and 1½ year course without any mandatory requirement for “scholastic research.” In India, the absence of combined MBBS/PhD programs and the omission of research experience as a measure of aptitude in postgraduate entrance examinations mean that medical research is limited to a small but largely self-driven group of students.

This is far from a revelation. The Indian Council of Medical Research recognized this problem as far back as the 1970s, after which the Short Term Studentship Program (STS) was initiated in 1979 to promote students to explore medical research. The number of STS recipients has steadily risen from 496 in 2005–1076 students in 2014.[1],[2] The trend, though encouraging, leaves much to be desired considering the country produces more than 50,000 medical graduates each year.[3]

A study conducted by Rivera et al. exploring the barriers to medical research during postgraduate training in the United States revealed seven key barriers to research: insufficient interest, limited time, paucity of mentors, limited faculty time, lack of resident research skills, absence of a research curriculum, and inadequate funding.[4] In the same study, it was found that insufficient interest in research is more accurately a manifestation of reluctance or fear due to the lack of skills and resources necessary to complete a research project.[4] We believe that these barriers to research are equally relevant in the Indian scenario. The absence of an optional research curriculum at the graduate level means that students often need to skip classes or work overtime to pursue their research interests; it is entirely possible that the strict 75% attendance requirement stipulated by the MCI acts as a further deterrent.

We could take inspiration from the West: aside from creating 7-year MBBS/PhD courses, one could implement an optional 1-year research sabbatical between the 3rd and 4th year of the MBBS course. Graduate medical education in the United Kingdom, for example, offers a flexible year in which students can optionally obtain a degree in management, research, or journalism depending on their interests.[5] Creating a transferable-credit system that awards student attendance in classes for the hours spent in research activities may also be an avenue worth exploring. Medical educators, the government, and the MCI have made tremendous progress in terms of quality improvement and expansion of medical education in the country. We believe the challenge now lies in encouraging medical research in a way that complements the interests of students and the larger needs of the country.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Deo MG. Need for research oriented medical education in India. Indian J Med Res 2009;130:105-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Indian Council of Medical Research. STS 2014 Report Review Results. Available from: [Last Accessed on 2017 Jul 03].  Back to cited text no. 2
Medical Council of India. List of MBBS Colleges. Available from: [Last Accessed on 2017 Jul 03].  Back to cited text no. 3
Rivera JA, Levine RB, Wright SM. Completing a scholarly project during residency training. Perspectives of residents who have been successful. J Gen Intern Med 2005;20:366-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
Nicholson JA, Cleland J, Lemon J, Galley HF. Why medical students choose not to carry out an intercalated BSc: A questionnaire study. BMC Med Educ 2010;10:25.  Back to cited text no. 5


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