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Distance Learning in India

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Editor's note: Karen Bashir, MA, RN, program analyst, National Institute on Aging, traveled to India in November to see the Taj Mahal. A student at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, Baltimore, she also wanted to learn about India's initiatives in nursing informatics, her area of study. She'd read about work done in telemedicine by R.S. Tyagi, PhD, at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi and contacted him via the Internet. She also met with Manju Vatsa, PhD, principal of the AIIMS School of Nursing. Bashir, also a community nurse at a Silver Springs, MD clinic, came away from these two meetings with a clearer understanding of informatics in India, and was surprised to learn how videoconferencing is central to India's educational system for medical and nursing students.

Karen Bashir, MA, RN, meets with Manju Vatsa, PhD, principal of the nursing school at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in Delhi, India. courtesy Karen Bashir, MA, RN
Manju Vatsa, PhD, is a busy woman.

She is principal of the College of Nursing at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in Delhi, India, which graduates more than 90 students per year, teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses herself. 

Vasta also is active in the Indian Nursing Council (INC), which has helped form a national consortium of six institutes, which will soon be graduating 80 doctorate-prepared nursing students. The nursing consortium was modelled after a program developed by the Thailand Nursing Council in Bangkok.

Advisors and students use the Internet extensively in all aspects of the program, which is in its 4th year. Consortium doctoral advisors like Vatsa are located throughout the country. Videoconferences of lectures by faculty members from the Indian Nursing Council in Delhi are beamed to five locations around the country once a month.  

Addtionally, Vatsa has been a consultant on nursing education in various countries (such as Ethiopia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka), as well, and also to the World Health Organization on disability care by nurses. She also was instrumental in planning a Global Fund HIV/AIDs Training Centre at AIIMS, which will be operating soon. What's more, although she has never travelled to the U.S, she has been involved in a program with UCLA's associate dean of nursing, Adeline Nyamthi, in a Train the Trainers' effort.

Vasta, who earned her PhD at the Manipol Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) in Karnataka, personally advises six of the nursing students working on their doctoral degrees at AIIMS, where she has been principal since 1992. While she loves her job, administrative matters are very demanding and she wishes she had more time to devote to advising and research. 

'Super Specialty Hospital'

R.S. Tyagi, PhD, computer facility head at AIIMS, recently received India's annual "Maximum Social Impact Award" for his efforts in medical distance learning. courtesy Karen Bashir, MA, RN
AIIMS, established in 1956, is a world renowned research and medical institution. 

In India, it is also designated as a "Super Speciality Hospital" which means it has well-trained staff that diagnose very difficult medical cases at incredibly reasonable costs. The costs are subsidized by the central Indian government which oversees and supports the Institute. One must apply to be an accepted case there. 

AIIMS is similar in its mission to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), which also federally funds the treatment of difficult medical cases. Unlike NIH, AIIMS not only has a nursing school on its campus, but also houses a medical school that graduates approximately 100 students each year. 

Distance Learning

AIIMS also is known as a leader in healthcare information technology (IT) in India . 

Recently, a distinguished healthcare IT award was bestowed upon one of Vatsa's colleagues, R.S. Tyagi, PhD, head of the Computer Facility Department at AIIMS, who received India's annual "Maximum Social Impact Award." Tyagi received the award for a project, "Tele-education/Medicine," through which surgical procedures are observed remotely by medical students matriculating at 51 sites throughout India. 

Regional alliances are also being sought and developed by Tyagi and his staff, such as an effort to transmit the surgical telecasts simultaneously to a number of medical schools in 53 African countries with a number of medical schools as recipients. The AIIMS Computer Facility Department channels their transmission through Bangalore, the undisputed IT capital of India. 

Distance Learning in India

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I'm an AIIMsonian- 1998 graduate. I sure am very proud of the excellent nursing education I received from College of Nursing AIIMS. It has not only instilled in me a great confidence to practice nursing with confidence but also to have a leading edge over my colleagues who are trained here in North America. I continue to practice as a Nurse Practitioner and specialise in geriatrics, palliative care and family medicine. Excellent work CON-AIIMS. Keep it up.

Sheena Jacob, NP-PHC, MHA, CHFM

Sheena JacobSeptember 27, 2012


salmon mathewJune 28, 2009

Renu and Siby. Thank you also for your comments. I haven't even had a chance to email Dr. Vatsa that the article is in print but will do that today. I am sure she would love to hear from you too. See AIIMS home page and faculty list to find her email address. Regards, Karen

Karen  BashirApril 24, 2009

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