NAAC – A MISSION TO INTERNALIZE THE VISION OF OUR INSTITUTE
Dr. Chirag Shah, MD (Hom)
Reader, Department of Physiology and Co-ordinator, NAAC Committee, MKSHMC, Karjan
NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) is such an attractive label! However, like all attractive, mesmerizing objects, it is tough to perceive and tougher to acquire. I am sharing the experience of my journey of the last two years towards this elusive goal, so that all readers are inspired to join the bandwagon and work jointly towards this end.
My inculcation in the NAAC
My contact started when the Central Council of Homoeopathy (CCH) made NAAC and National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) certification compulsory for Homoeopathic colleges. Dr Hitesh Purohit gave an exposition in 2016 on “What is NAAC?” in our institute. With no further movement, the issue had all but slipped out of my conscious mind. However, I could see the NAAC process in another institute where I have some contacts. I collected a lot of information and material about how to proceed, which unfortunately became defunct as NAAC announced a revised framework in July 2017. Going through all this material convinced me that NAAC is not just paperwork or a process. It requires a different approach, one that cannot be done alone or in bits and pieces. At our institute, NABH efforts were ongoing; from a distance, I perceived how the NABH team was going about the task. Finally, in January 2018, Dr Hitesh Purohit approached me to take on the co-ordinator’s role and I agreed. A few days later, I received the appointment letter that put me in the saddle, but was the horse manageable? I wondered.
We began by conducting a survey formulated by the Palghar research team. It was a simple checklist that covered all areas of NAAC. Different faculty members took one and half month to complete it; analysing the results required another month. The analysis indicated to the teachers in MKSHMC that many things needed to be done, as a team. Unfortunately, as nobody could understand how to proceed in their respective NAAC areas, everyone’s interest decreased gradually. Despite a constant communication with Dr Kumar Dhawale, I could not understand where to start, leading to a break of almost 3 to 4 months. I was also planning and collecting NAAC-related information and pamphlets. However, as it was a very new field and I had no access to any training or exposition, this entire process was fuelled by self learning and guidance by my seniors. Training manual specific for Health care Institutions had not been released yet. Then, the call from the South arrived!
Opportunity to Enhance the Quality of Knowledge in Health Science Institutions
One day, we received an email from Kumar regarding attending the National Conference on Quality Indicators and Benchmarks for Health Science Institutions, a workshop organised by the Chettinad Academy for Research and Education, Chennai, on the 14th– 15th December 2018. This was an opportunity to understand the specific issues that health care institutions face in their journey towards quality accreditation. Five of us from MLDMHI and MKSHMC decided to attend.
We had a very short time to prepare, especially when Kumar Sir suddenly asked me to present an abstract on The Best Practices in our Institution; I had only two days to prepare!. I revisited my past experience with Integrated Medical Education (IME) and revised the basics of IME and the Problem-Based Learning method of teaching. Simultaneously, it also brought clarity regarding the way we are handling the project as a facilitator. Overall, it was a nice experience to create the abstract with a continual back and forth between Kumar sir and me. They accepted the three abstracts we sent and asked us to email the PowerPoint versions. We were happy that we could write papers based on what we have experienced and demonstrated in our UG and PG colleges.
Conference and Learning
The well-maintained campus was a little away from the main city, with several medical and paramedical institutes with hospitals. We were issued electromagnetic ID cards at the entrance, which are needed at every entry. There is landscaping and greenery everywhere on campus and a water body. The building was designed with a central square where they had planted many palm trees, which gave a sense of freshness. Vehicle use is restricted on campus; internal commuting uses bicycles and battery operated cars. All buildings had escalators. The campus carried signage with three languages and was disabled friendly. Solar energy was the 2nd source of energy. The cafeteria offered quality food at reasonable prices. The ethos was of a foreign university.
We were the only participants from a Homoeopathic institute, the rest being from different places and streams such as Medical, Dental, Pharmacy, and Nursing. Almost 80% of these institutes are NAAC accredited or were in the process. So many things were new to us.
The 1st day was a little hectic in terms of presentations as many core issues were dealt on that day. The various topics included Introduction to NAAC accreditation framework on health sciences’, ‘Qualitative and quantitative indicators in health care’, ‘Bench-marking in health-care systems and health sciences’, and ‘Bench-marking in international quality assurance framework’. The speakers were luminaries of NAAC as well as from reputed Medical Institutes in South India. Some expositions related to the different tools of the health manual needs to be understood from our Homoeopathic perspective. We were given exposure to the NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework), which ranks Indian Institutes on independent parameters. All the presentations delivered information, but the application of this information had to be worked out by the Institutes themselves. After the 1st day, I was unsure if all this will help us in proceeding with our work.
The 2nd day started very well, with paper presentations from different institutes and faculties. The most important learning in these presentations was how others are doing meticulous paper work and what kind of hard work is required as well as what kind of support structure is required for fulfilling the above need.
We also presented our papers on the Best Practices in our Institutions:
- Dr Prashant Tamboli presented a Paper on Using Objective Structured Evaluation Feedback Format to enhance the application of PG Homoeopathic students to the Standardised Case Record.
He focused on the evolution of student and teacher in the SCR system through employment of a positive feedback process. He has designed a structured form based on constructive feedback, which led to a significant qualitative and quantitative change in students as well as in teachers in relating to teaching and learning the SCR system.
- Dr Bhavik Parikh’s paper was on Fostering Teaching Excellence in The Homoeopathic Postgraduate Student For UG Teaching Through Specially Designed Training.
He focused on how a specially designed training module helps PG students to lecture UG students in a creative and constructive way. He showed how the structured mode of lecture preparation and feedback system is helpful for fostering excellence in the teaching capacity of postgraduate students and how it helped both to evolve and acquire new forms of knowledge.
- Dr Chirag Shah (yours truly!) presented a paper on – Understanding Qualitative Learning In Undergraduate Homoeopathic Students through Problem-Based Learning Method.
Here, I have drawn attention to the difference between the usual way of teaching and Problem-Based Learning – the involvement and engagement of students in the PBL method is more than in the traditional method. I also talked about the feedback system and how it is helpful in improving qualitative learning in UG Homoeopathic education.
The presentation time was only around 5 to 7 minutes, yet we could cover all the relevant concepts and finished the presentation on time.
Many important topics were discussed on the 2nd day, such as the role of health-care institutions in community health and nation building, NIRF for health science institutions, Health care quality beyond accreditation and, most important, the Research potential in health science institutions. The last two talks helped us to understand how most colleges face serious problems regarding Quality and Research.
Dr C. N. Srinivas, Director – Dept. of Laboratory Medicine, Transplantation, Immunology, and Molecular Laboratory, Chennai talked about health care quality. Continuous improvements in patient care process and outcome are required. Improved quality means fewer errors and lesser harm. Maintaining quality involves following rules, but accreditation is a seal of approval. Quality is also based on the attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, and values that the employees share.
After listening to Dr Vijayraghawan, VC, Sri Ramchandra University, Chennai, one thing was clear that research cannot be forced; it needs to rise from within and from below upward in any department. He also suggested ways in which research must be carried out. He talked about academic research, clinical research, animal research, commercial research through academic industry collaboration, and many more. After his exposition, I could clearly understand how one can develop good educational practice through research. He also mentioned many web portals that can help in research, such as PubMed, SCOPUS, and SHODH GANGA.
Evening and morning by the Bay of Bengal
Chennai is famous for two things: beaches and temples. We were fortunate that our venue was on the outskirts of Chennai and near the sea. The cold winds felt very refreshing. On the 1st evening, we visited the famous Kovalam beach, which was of course salty, cold, and windy! On the 2nd evening, we spent time shopping and on the 3rd day, we spent the entire morning visiting different temples and beaches at the world famous Mahabalipuram temple town – Five Rathas, Krishna’s Butterball, Arjun’s Penance, Ganesh Temple, Varaha Temple, and Shore Temple. These sites are amazing archaeological treasures.
Take home learning and the way ahead
In a sense, our institute is very fortunate that we have a strong analytical and research-oriented approach. We also support research activity on our campus. We are doing so much, but we do not publish. We need to publish in all the three areas of health care – Clinical, Educational, and Community – to strengthen our foundation for research in all three areas. If we work rigorously, our aim to achieve excellence in each department will be fulfilled.
NAAC also talks about creating a culture of Care at more fundamental levels, which is similar to our Tri-coordinate Care concept. Fostering more effective and meaningful communication, first within the Faculty and then between the students and the Faculty is essential. The communication should be in an atmosphere of openness, transparency, and trust.
We need to institute enabling patient care norms and policies so that patient receiving, documentation, and processing is restored to the status that all excellent institutions need and to the level that MLD sir desired.
The most important part of this workshop was that 95% of the proceedings were paperless. They primarily followed the new resolution of NAAC that every institute must be ICT friendly. All brochures, pamphlets, invitations, abstracts, and reference papers were electronic. This was really impressive.
Overall, this workshop gave me significant insights that would enable me to start with the NAAC process in the institute. Earlier, I found the whole process very confusing: where to start? and how to start? After this workshop, the path was definitely clearer.
NAAC is a mission mode enterprise, not an activity to be undertaken by the few co-ordinators who have been assigned the task in their spare time! If our Vision and Mission gets internalized, the actions will logically and compulsively follow. This was the most important take-home learning from the 2-day conference.