The Dental Council of India (DCI) has urged Medical Council of India (MCI) to introduce a three-year MBBS bridge course for Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) graduates, which will allow them to become full-fledged MBBS doctors. MCI, sources said, is considering the proposal. However, a final decision is yet to be taken.

The country faces a shortage of doctors and if the Centre agrees to the DCI proposal it may increase their availability, which will have a big impact on the health care system, especially in the rural areas, said a DCI member. Also, there are many dentists and dental surgeons who want to practice as general physicians. If dentists are allowed to do MBBS, it will be a win-win situation for all, he argued.

The government has already agreed to the DCI proposal to allow dental surgeons to give death certificates in case a patient dies while undergoing treatment in a dental clinic or hospital.

There has been a mixed response to the DCI’s proposal. Former Indian Medical Association (IMA) president Dr K.K. Agarwal said this proposal could be explored. Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, he said: “In my view, there is no harm in implementing this proposal. However, this should be bilateral. If a BDS can do MBBS, a full-fledged MBBS should also be allowed to do a course in dentistry.”

A senior practising dentist Dr Devendra Ojha said: “This is an age of specialisation and super-specialisation. If a dentist does MBBS after doing bridge course, it practically has no meaning, unless he does specialisation in some field. A simple MBBS has no value. So it may be a wastage of three years.”

Talking about the shortage of doctors, he said if at all the government is concerned about improving availability of MBBS doctors in the rural areas, it can post the dentists, after giving them a short training of six months or one year. “Out of five years of BDS course, three years are devoted to same subjects which are taught to the MBBS doctors—microbiology, pharma, pathology, general medicine and surgery. These are the common subjects. So a short course will be able to take care of the rural healthcare. There is no need to introduce a three-year course,” said Dr Ojha.

Delhi Medical Association president Dr Ashwani Goyal too expressed his reservation about the proposal. Speaking to this newspaper, he said: “We oppose this proposal as it will be a mockery of the education system. We become MBBS doctors after rigorous training. Why should dentists be allowed to become MBBS? Why are they intere sted in becoming general physicians? They should excel in their own field. I feel they want to make easy money and, therefore, they want to become general physician.”