Thursday, August 30, 2007

internships for graduates

Medical students have to undergo a one-year internship (presumably rotating within several wards/specializations) before they are given a degree. Am not sure about this, but students may also be placed in rural areas as part of the rotation.

The question then is, why don't engineering/science/... students have such/similar requirement?

Surely, the logistics of having a full-time one year internship might be difficult, due to the numbers etc. But can't we have a requirement which is similar in spirit---to get a "real" look at how science and technology is applied and the effects it produces. An alternative could be, students go on short-interval field-trips to nearby places---factories, local artisans, brick kilns, communities etc., to get an idea of what are the real issues, the solutions being used, what can/should be used etc. A holistic view of science and technology would certainly help in its applicability.

This came up during a discussion in the "Appropriate Technology" class ... if students travel, do field-work and get a "real" look at problems, solutions, local resources, they can better understand the role of technology to maximize use of local resources, involve local labor and use local knowledge to develop appropriate solutions for local problems.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

puru,

wanted to point out that even the medical students that are required to undergo a one year internship often in rural areas are most of the times trying to find a way out of it. And a lot of them (atleast the ones i know) found out a way out of it by either getting transfers or proxy attendance etc.

i am not really aware of what the issues are but after taking to them, the following come up:

1. most of the fresh graduates are preparing for their MD entry exams. Hence often they don't want to go to a rural area.
2. the amount of money they are offered during the internship.
3. the conditions and lack of resources at the hospitals.

The internship is made mandatory but there aren't any incentives from the govt or the people who manage these for the students to make a sincere effort.

I see your point regarding having 'real experience' and doing field-work to know the real issues, but the structure needed to support this idea seems to be completely missing in our educational system.

-rati

Puru said...

Rati,
Certainly, I am sure there is a wide gap between the intention and the implementation of such programs.

Am not sure how much of it is an incentive problem from the educational system perspective---one hardly gets paid for studying. But the meaning/role of education and professions itself is changing, with monetary benefits becoming the primary metric.

Anonymous said...

puru,

I also think that the 'incentives' don't necessarily have to be monetary. Setting up the right incentives includes viewing these internships more valuable than just a mandatory formality. Which could mean that while applying for jobs, hospitals value the fact that a candidate spent time in rural areas etc. It could also mean having a rotation policy amongst experienced physicians to go to their near by villages once or twice a month and the students to get an opportunity to interact with them, work with them closely.
It could also mean..having a smaller duration internship like 6 months during the 3 or 4 th year of medicine so that it doesn't coincide with candidates preparing for their MD exams etc.

The question is how are these internships 'sold'. The govt. currently relies on just the fact that they are mandatory, but they don't seem to be attractive even from an experience point of view.

-rati

Vishnu said...

The place where I did my undergrad (the same place where you teach now) had the structure. We had someting called "Work visits" where we were taken to nearby foundries etc (Mechanical Eng.), and we went just for the fun. We also had to do a "Practical Training" during the summer after our third year. There were good opportunities to know the real world, but only a few students made use of them (sadly, not me).

Puru said...

rati,
you are right, incentives do not have to be monetary ... just the experience or an opportunity to learn on the field or from someone working on the field might be worth several lectures hours and more!

"The govt. currently relies on just the fact that they are mandatory, but they don't seem to be attractive even from an experience point of view."
Am not sure if it is enitrely the role of the government to implement the intention? Meaning they have setup the process, it is up to us who undergo the process and those who monitor it to see it through. And how much importance do we as a society give to such processes? No doubt, the govt. can and should monitor the effectiveness of the process itself and change/adapt it in the hope of better probability of implementation.

Puru said...

vishnu, yeah IITB and I am sure other IITs as well, have a setup which encourages/has a requirement for visits and internships. I think the primary reason for this is the autonomy that IITs enjoy---requirements can be added/deleted/updated more easily than the schools/colleges that are affiliated to state/regional universities.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree with you completely. Such processes will go a long way in understanding local issues and certainly motivates development of 'appropriate technology'.

I remember having taken this course under Prof. A.W. Date at IITB. We also undertook a field trip to Karjat and other locations in the interior of Maharashtra where we visited brick kilns, and other small scale factories. Personally, it was a very useful experience to me (although I haven't translated the experience to any tangible action yet!).

There could be some resistance to a 1-year long internship as your other readers pointed out, but certainly, as a first step, one could make such courses mandatory to all engineering students.

-Ramesh