Bangalore's St Johns Medical College (SJMC) works on the doctrine that doctors should be social workers first and medical practitioners second. The college admission procedure, education system and placements revolve around this motive.
The aim of the college is to train health care professionals who are willing to work in medically under-served areas, says Dr Kamath Kalam, director, SJMC. All students who enrol for the MBBS programme at the college have to sign a bond, binding them to work in an under-developed place designated by the college for two years.
Honouring the bond
There are brownie points to be earned if the two-year bond is honoured. Students are given 15 bonus points when they appear for the postgraduate entrance exam. Tuition fee for the PG programme is waved. This means they save upto Rs six lakh, says Kalam. On the flip side, students have to cough up a steep fine if they dishonour the bond.
Located on a sprawling 135-acre campus in the heart of Bangalore, SJMC was set up in 1963 by the Catholic Bishops of India. The hubbub of Bangalore is left way behind when you step into the SJMC campus. The college campus resembles a mini township, complete with open, green spaces, sports complex, shaded walkways and lots of peace and quiet.
The college offers an MBBS and postgraduate programmes and three super-speciality subjects. These include an MCH the highest degree in surgery in plastic surgery, paediatric surgery and cardiology and a doctorate in medicine.
To maintain a healthy student-teacher ratio, only 60 students are admitted for the MBBS programme every year. This way, teachers pay individual attention to students, explains Kalam.
Students get hands-on training at the 1,200-bed St Johns hospital. Infrastructure facilities at the college include all the mandatory labs and libraries. The college offers hostel facilities for all students.
The college conducts its own all-India admission test, through 13 centres across the country. Following this, 140 students are called for a marathon, week-long interview-cum-interaction session. Psychologists and youth experts evaluate the students. Students are judged on their motivation to serve people and their value system, says. The selection process ends with a health check-up.
The college boasts of one of the best-equipped sports complexes in the city. SJMC students are routinely selected for the university and state level hockey, basketball and volleyball teams, claims Kalam. Getting admission to SJMC which was ranked the seventh best medical college by India Today last year is a long-drawn affair.
Placement is not a focus area at SJMC. We concentrate on placing medical professionals in rural areas. High-profile placements are not our priority, says Kalam.
Dr Anura Vishwanath Kurpad, Dean, St John’s Research Institute, remembers his alma mater
I joined St John’s Medical College in 1977 to do an MBBS, and I liked the college so much that I went on to do my MD and PhD from there. There is an all-India feel to the college which I enjoyed. Second, SJMC has a committed faculty. The student-teacher ratio is low, which means there was a healthy interaction between the two. We had a very intimate learning experience at SJMC. I also liked the campus atmosphere of the college.
This is one of the country’s few private medical colleges to have a sprawling campus and also a hospital attached to it. The SJMC campus had playgrounds and lot of open spaces. The strong focus on extra-curricular activities required us to do many more things other than remain buried in books.