M.Sc in medical microbiology

M.Sc (master of science) courses in medical subjects including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology and pharmacology are offered by Kasturba Medical College (Manipal and Mangalore). These are the only two colleges in Karnataka that offer these courses. Similar courses are offered by Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamilnadu and Kerala universities too. Every year several students from Karnataka and outside take admission in these two colleges. Not many are aware of its value and utility. The fee structure has been constantly on the rise.

This article shall concentrate only on M.Sc in medical microbiology. Even though this is a postgraduate course, it is not considered a PG course by (Medical Council of India (MCI). Typically, any PG course lasts only for two years but medical M.Sc courses are offered for three years. The first year is dedicated entirely to learning medical subjects like human anatomy, physiology and biochemistry just the way first year MBBS students do. The only difference lies in Anatomy where brain and limbs are not included in the syllabus. After the student clears the first year, he/she can then proceed to the subject of specialty, which lasts for additional two years.

During the subsequent two years of study, the student has to take up 2-3 internal assessment examination and undertake a dissertation.  The course, curriculum and system of examination are exactly similar to that of MD course. The only difference between M.Sc and MD course is the duration, MD student get three years to study the same portion. During the course the student has to present subject and culture seminars besides undertaking a research work leading to submission of dissertation. The dissertation part has unfortunately been abolished in certain institutions. At the end of two years, a final examination would be held that consists of theory and practical examination. Practical examination is held for three days and the examiner panel consists of internal as well as external examiners. The pattern of examination is same that of MD examination. Since Manipal University is a deemed one, answer booklets are evaluated in the same university. The successful candidate is then awarded a masters degree in medical microbiology and a certificate is given to this effect at convocation. People holding this medical degree are commonly referred as "non-medicos".

 The options these students have next is limited. Unreserved candidates securing 60% or above and reserved candidates with 55% can pursue higher education by undertaking doctoral study (PhD). Clearance of UGC CSIR/NET and Gate exams with good results would be added benefit as they would be given preference. Such candidates are eligible for regular scholarship. A student can pursue PhD in any institution or university in Karnataka or outside provided it is recognized by MCI. Obtaining a PhD in non-medical universities will not be recognized by MCI. In Karnataka, PhD can be sought at following places:

Rajiv Gandhi Univesity of Health Sciences, NIMHANS
Manipal University and several deemed universities are offering PhD courses.

Those not interested in PhD or unable to purse may opt for other studies such as bioinformatics, clinical research, medical transcription, biotechnology, genetics etc. Other less desirable study options includes computer courses. Students not interested in further studies can find employment in diagnostic laboratories, call centers, pharmaceutical companies or biotech companies. If you are lucky you could land a technician job at any hospital in Gulf. Or worse, one can join a medical college as teacher. Several medical colleges are no longer entertaining "non-medicos" for teaching posts. The MCI has notified that non-medicos may be employed in medical college if all attempts at finding MDs fail and the institution has to furnish proof of their attempts. The appointment of non-medicos now require prior approval from MCI.

Scope of M.Sc post graduates joining medical colleges as faculty: In simple words, there is no scope at all. There was a time when there were no takers for para-clinical subjects like microbiology by MBBS graduates, hence the M.Sc degree holders were then in demand. Now almost every college has full admission to MD microbiology. Each year 20-30 MD students pass out of medical colleges from Karnataka alone and the number of M.Sc students from both the  KMC colleges too is almost the same. With so many MD degree holders around, the scope for M.Sc degree holders is scarce. Many institutions are not appointing M.Sc degree holders these days. Some colleges appoint them as tutors or demonstrators and not even as lecturers. Even if a M.Sc degree holder is appointed as lecturer, he/she is entitled to promotion as Assistant professor after three years, which is wrongly and unjustly denied in several institutions. The pay package in private institutions too may vary with the degree, where M.Sc degree holders may be underpaid. MCI does not recommend promoting M.Sc faculty above the post of Asst. Prof. without a medical PhD. In simple words, a M.Sc faculty can not expect any growth in medical college without a PhD. The post graduate course (M.Sc) is not considered as a post-graduate course by MCI at all. The discrimination between M.Sc and MD degree holders is intense and many times unhealthy. In simple words, M.Sc holders have no place in a medical world. A M.Sc degree holder is branded as "non-medico" and is looked down upon in many cases.

Here are the differences between M.Sc and MD faculty.
Issue MD M.Sc (without PhD) Monetary benefits
Assistant Professor designation Immediately or after 3 years of MD Generally denied (even after a decade) Yes
Further promotion Natural progression No further promotion Yes
Medical Internal/External examiners Eligible Eligibility denied Yes
Dental Internal/ External examiners Eligible Eligibility denied Yes
Question paper setting Eligible Eligibility denied Yes
Paper evaluation (Nursing) Eligible Eligibility denied Yes
Room superintendent post Eligible Eligibility denied Yes
Deputation for govt. sponsored programmes Eligible Eligibility denied Not known
Consideration for sponsored projects Eligible Eligibility denied Yes
Setting internal assessment question papers Eligible Eligibility denied No
Registration for IAMM Immediately after PG Only after 3 years No
Professional practice (clinical & diagnostic) Eligible Little scope; since not considered eligible by many Yes
Recognition status medical post-graduate "non-medical" No

The discriminations and eligibilities vary from institution to institution and may not be exactly as mentioned above. It is also possible that some of the MSc degree holders are well off in some cases, but such conditions are rare. One may join a medical institution but must be prepared for denial of many opportunities as well as dignity. None of your merits will ever be considered. You may be a gold-medalist in MSc, but you will still be of no match to a MD holder who took years to pass. Medical colleges are for doctors, keep away from them if your dignity and growth is of any importance to you.

Even though the course & curriculum is identical, medical MSc is never considered equivalent to MD degree. Strangely enough, one is eligible to teach medical students but not eligible to examine them or set question paper; a principle that does not make sense. There is tremendous opposition to welfare of MSc's in medical institutions. MSc degree holders are not supposed to excel in income or academics and every opportunity to excel might be sabotaged. People demand lesser salaries to MSc degree holders since they can't accept "non-medicos" getting same remuneration. The reasons why there is so much discrimination is more than what meets the eye. Medical MSc degree holders are subjected to what can be called "academic apartheid". A similar article is available in this blog, visitors may comment there.

Summary this article:
1) Do not take up MSc in any of the medical subjects (Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Pharmacology)
2) If you happened to do just that, don't stop at that. Pursue till you get a medical PhD. A non-medical PhD is useless in medical colleges.
3) No matter what, don't take up job in medical college or hospitals. Keep away from medical institutions.
4) MSc in medical subjects are respected in certain other developed countries, people here don't.  If possible, fly abroad.