Mecca of Medicine

De­spite the bur­geon­ing de­mands on it, AIIMS Delhi keeps its en­vi­able record as the No. 1 in­sti­tu­tion for med­i­cal aspi­rants

India Today - - MEDICAL - By Priyanka Sharma

FOR MED­I­CAL ASPI­RANTS, THE All In­dia In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi is the ‘Med­i­cal Mecca’ of In­dia. But be warned, it’s no easy ride here. Af­ter crack­ing one of the tough­est med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tions in In­dia, only a hand­ful—75 stu­dents—is se­lected for the MBBS course here ev­ery year. And the strug­gle does not end here. In fact, the grilling process starts once you en­ter the cam­pus and make the first step in the med­i­cal ca­reer to be­come a doc­tor.

“AIIMS got es­tab­lished as an Act of Par­lia­ment in 1956,” says Dr Ran­deep Gu­le­ria, the cur­rent AIIMS direc­tor. “We found three ar­eas we had to ex­cel in. First was aca­demics, so we de­vel­oped in­no­va­tive teach­ing and aca­demic pro­grammes that at­tract stu­dents from all over the coun­try. In­ter­na­tion­ally, AIIMS to­day has one of the best aca­demic pro­grammes on of­fer. Our sec­ond pri­or­ity was ar­eas of re­search, and the third, op­ti­mum health­care ser­vices for pa­tients.”

Dr Gu­le­ria adds that over the past 60 years the in­sti­tute has gained cred­i­bil­ity and value in all three fields, set­ting a bench­mark for the rest of the coun­try. And this de­spite the de­part­ments and doc­tors be­ing un­der pres­sure and work­ing round-the­clock to han­dle the rush of pa­tients.

AIIMS gets over 10,000 pa­tients ev­ery day. The num­ber of surg­eries per­formed is also grow­ing ev­ery year. Direc­tor Gu­le­ria says “the sit­u­a­tion is such that we are now fac­ing prob­lems due to the huge rush of pa­tients. We are look­ing at ex­pan­sion and newer cen­tres are com­ing up. We are in the process of de­vel­op­ing a com­pre­hen­sive mas­ter plan for fur­ther ex­pan­sion to han­dle the in­creas­ing pa­tient load and our own re­search de­mands”.

Most pa­tients who come here are un­der re­fer­ral. That means a case that could be not han­dled fur­ther in the pri­vate or gov­ern­ment hospi­tal where the pa­tient was be­ing treated comes here. Treat­ment, of course, is sub­sidised and hence much cheaper. To put it in per­spec­tive, a heart trans­plant at AIIMS costs about Rs 1 lakh, while any­where out­side it is about Rs 20 lakh.


“At first glance, one might think it’s the beau­ti­ful cam­pus, the op­ti­mum fa­cil­i­ties for stu­dents and fac­ulty etc. that at­tracts stu­dents, but all that is sec­ondary,” says Sa­maan Jukaka, a third-year MBBS

stu­dent at AIIMS. “What makes us proud ‘AIIMSo­ni­ans’ is that ev­ery day we are treat­ing crit­i­cal cases, the ‘clas­sic med­i­cal symp­toms’ which we learn in our med­i­cal text books. Here, you are not go­ing to see a pa­tient with a sim­ple cough or fever. Even in your first post­ing, you will be han­dling a crit­i­cal TB or can­cer case. In my surgery post­ing, ev­ery third pa­tient was car­cino­genic.”

Aayush Lakkanna, another third year MBBS stu­dent, says “the day starts at 8 am with us rush­ing for lec­tures. Af­ter that we are posted in dif­fer­ent de­part­ments for pa­tient care till lunch. Af­ter lunch, there’s the af­ter­noon lec­tures and prac­ti­cals. We barely have time to grab a banana or a few bis­cuits be­fore it’s time for ex­tra classes by the se­nior res­i­dents which in­volves the next day’s post­ings”.

AIIMS also has a dif­fer­ent sys­tem in as­sess­ing stu­dents. As Lakkana puts it, “We don’t have weekly, monthly tests like other med­i­cal col­leges. What this means is that we get more time to study. In the first and sec­ond year, we do have mid-se­mes­ter and end-se­mes­ter ex­ams. Af­ter that we have a pro­fes­sional exam only at the end of fourth year. This way we are able to learn and con­cen­trate more on pa­tient care. A big plus is that the fac­ulty is ex­tremely friendly... we are a family here. There is no pres­sure from the fac­ulty at all.”


Over the years, the in­sti­tute has de­vel­oped newer, more in­no­va­tive teach­ing cour­ses. Spe­cialty cour­ses have also started in im­por­tant ar­eas like in­ter­ven­tion in car­di­ol­ogy, ba­sic sciences, neuro-ra­di­ol­ogy etc. Since the fo­cus is al­ways on an in­ter­ac­tive teach­ing en­vi­ron­ment, the in­sti­tute of­fers in­te­grated teach­ing skills where mul­ti­ple spe­cial­ties come to­gether and teach rather than sin­gle ex­pert teach­ing. This is to pro­vide a com­pre­hen­sive dis­ease pro­file to the class. AIIMS is also try­ing to do more of vir­tual teach­ing mod­ules, us­ing graph­ics and tech­nol­ogy to help stu­dents un­der­stand the hu­man body and the dis­eases they will en­counter bet­ter. As part of teach­ing pro­grammes, med­i­cal pro­fes­sors here are also do­ing telemedicine consultations. A lot of the lec­tures are also be­ing shared with other med­i­cal col­leges. Stu­dents are also re­quired to be quick on the up­take as the work­ing en­vi­ron­ment changes dras­ti­cally from depart­ment-to-depart­ment. Be­ing in the top med­i­cal col­lege of the coun­try also has its ad­van­tages. As Lakkana says, in other med­i­cal col­leges, nearly 20 stu­dents work on a sin­gle ca­daver; here at AIIMS, the ra­tio is 8-9 stu­dents to a ca­daver.

AIIMS has also con­sis­tently been No.

“With in­no­va­tive aca­demic pro­grammes, ded­i­cated fac­ulty and high qual­ity pa­tient care, AIIMS is still the pioneer” DR RAN­DEEP GU­LE­RIA, DIREC­TOR, AIIMS

1 in the coun­try as far as med­i­cal re­search is con­cerned. Even in­ter­na­tion­ally, AIIMS ranks No. 3, with only Amer­ica’s Har­vard Med­i­cal School and Mayo Clinic rated above it. The in­sti­tute is also do­ing re­search and col­lab­o­ra­tions in new ar­eas, in­clud­ing stem cells and nano tech­nol­ogy. Dr Pramod Garg, pro­fes­sor in the depart­ment of gas­troen­terol­ogy, and Sub-Dean, Re­search, at AIIMS, says, “With the pas­sage of time, the num­ber of re­search projects which num­bered less than 100 when we started has in­creased tremen­dously. To­day, the in­sti­tute has ap­prox­i­mately 600 on­go­ing projects and 150 in­di­vid­ual re­search fel­lows.”

And it’s not just all work and no play for the bud­ding doc­tors. The AIIMS cam­pus has a gym, ta­ble ten­nis courts, a foot­ball ground, bas­ket­ball and vol­ley­ball courts. The swim­ming pool is a pop­u­lar hang­out dur­ing the sum­mer months, while there are a few who are ded­i­cated to their post-shift bas­ket­ball and foot­ball games ev­ery night.

There’s also the seven-day-long gala univer­sity fes­ti­val, ‘Pulse’, which hap­pens ev­ery year in Septem­ber. It’s a must at­tend event for med­i­cal stu­dents from all over In­dia. Even stu­dents from a few neigh­bour­ing na­tions make it a point to come. “It started in 1978 and to­day it’s the No. 1 med­i­cal fest in South­east Asia. Ev­ery night is spe­cial. We have star nights, a band night, com­edy night,

“Study­ing at AIIMS was a dream come true. AIIMS boasts of the coun­try’s best and most ded­i­cated fac­ulty” SE­NIOR RES­I­DENT, AIIMS

sufi night, fash­ion shows... prepa­ra­tions have al­ready started,” says an AIIMS stu­dent.

With the best in­fra­struc­ture and fa­cil­i­ties, and a cam­pus en­gulfed in green with its Gul­mo­har, Ashoka and palm trees, AIIMS is an oa­sis for crit­i­cal pa­tients. The med­i­cal in­sti­tute has 53 clin­i­cal de­part­ments in­clud­ing 9 su­per-spe­cialty cen­tres. With its many re­gional cen­tres, the main AIIMS is a WHO col­lab­o­ra­tion cen­tre.


DILI­GENT CARE MD stu­dents ex­am­ine a pa­tient at the AIIMS in­ten­sive care unit YASIR IQBAL

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