“A TALE OF THE HISTORIC JOURNEY OF KING EDWARD MEDICAL COLLEGE ALUMNI OF NORTH AMERICA”
1973 – 2006
Arif A. Toor MD
Diplomate American Boards of Internal Medicine
History Of KEMCAANA
England and Scotland were the main destinations of young physicians form King Edward Medical College and other Medical institution of Pakistan going for post graduate education, training and certifications in the form of MRCP, FRCS or other specialty diplomas until the late 50s and early 60s. But then the trend changed there was much more awareness of the American style of training. A couple of individuals with American Boards had joined KE faculty had become role models and the Hospitals in USA were providing incentives like sending job contracts with fare to US and US consulates were giving red carpet treatment to qualified physicians. For example the class of 1961 had about 130 graduates and almost 50% of them left for US either immediately or after completing the house job.United States being a very large territory these few hundred people got scattered in such a manner that there was very little contact with each other. They achieved academic and material success yet they yearned for a sense of belonging. Dr. Amanullah Khan a graduate of KEMC class of 1963 took the first initiative and in 1972 started tracing out graduates from KEMC particularly his class mates. He was able to collect information on 25 people whom he invited for a get together over a long weekend at Niagara Falls New York on July 4th 1973. Nineteen individuals showed up. The participants reminisced about old times, told and retold old college days stories and recounted their new experiences.
These people were so taken by this experience that Dr. Amanullah suggested holding such meetings annually with inclusion of academic activities; someone suggested naming the organization “King Edward Medical College Alumni Association of America” another individual suggested “King Edward Medical College Alumni Association of North America” to include those who had settled beyond American borders in Canada. Volunteers were assigned the task of getting the names and addresses of KE graduates all over the country, and to write a constitution for the new organization.Dr. Amanullah Khan thus became the founder KEMCAANA forming a nucleus of leadership for future development of the organization. During the next year a list of about four hundred K.E. graduates in North America was prepared. It was then decided to hold the first meeting of KEMCAANA with an American Medical Association meeting that was being held at Atlantic City New Jersey that year.
Forty-three Kemcolians and their families came to Atlantic City in July of 1975 for the first Summer Meeting. These delegates elected Dr. Amanullah Khan as the first President of KEMCAANA. The constitution committee presented a simple constitution which served the association till 1995, at which time some changes became necessary.
While KEMCAANA had continued to gain strength and held regular meetings during the AMA sessions. In 1976 another organization called the Association of Pakistani Physicians of America (APPNA) was being formed under the leadership of another KE graduate Dr. Sheer Ahmed. At this time the spirit of organization was spreading to alumni of other colleges from Pakistan. At this stage Dr. Maalik Mirza a Kemkolian, in the true spirit of comradory suggested that it was in the larger interests of the Pakistani-American physicians’ community to unite under APPNA. Yet another Kemkolian Dr. Ishaq Chishti of the view that the ties of fraternal love that bound the alumni with their mother institute will be the strength of this association and that the Alumni organizations should exist independently albeit under the umbrella of this central organization. This argument prevailed and KEMCAANA as well as other alumni organizations were able to maintain their independent existence. Every one agreed that this would indeed strengthen APPNA if it acted as an umbrella organization for the Alumni associations.
KEMCAANA under the leadership of Dr. Amanullah Khan initially approached some senior members of King Edward Medical College faculty for a post graduate seminar in 1977. The idea got a cool reception from these members of the faculty. But the alumni were persistent and the idea was again presented in 1978 to the entire KE Academic Council. Without any change in the status. Finally in 1979 Professor Akhtar Khan the then Principal of KEMC invited Dr. Amanullah Khan to a dinner with some faculty members and there, for the first time, the benefits and the need of continued medical education seminars was accepted. The First International Seminars (An Update in Medicine and Surgery) were held at Lahore and Karachi in 1980. In March 1980 the first meeting with a CME program was held at KEMC by KEMCAANA and in December 1980 APPNA held its first meeting in Pakistan at Karachi. This year KECAANA made its first donation to KE in the form of medical instruments worth $6,000 for the Eye department these had been obtained by Dr Ishaq Chishti from the Alcon Company. A consignment of audiovisual equipment including a dozen slide projectors was also sent as a gift from KEMCAANA to the college. From this point on wards the KEMCAANA educational Seminars became an annual event at King Edward Medical College
In the early 1980s with changing attitudes and influx of American-born graduates from off-shore medical schools, it became virtually impossible for other Foreign Medical graduates to find residency positions in USA. A large number of Pakistani physicians were working in New York as phlebotomists and receptionists, unable to enter the system. During the summer 1982 Dr. Khawaja Sadiq Hussain, Principal of KE was the chief guest at KEMCAANA annual meeting in USA. During an informal “gup shup” with some of his old students he mentioned that due to the decreasing opportunities for post graduate training in the UK and USA the trickle of well-trained physicians capable of becoming future teachers was drying up. He felt that even though locally trained physicians were filling the gaps, foreign trained physicians were still needed. He suggested that we could try to arrange and pay for at least one residency position for a KE graduate every year.I volunteered to try to obtain one residency position in Connecticut, provided we could raise enough money to generate 10-15 thousand dollars a year. In 1983 and I took over as the president of KEMCAANA. A “Post Graduate Education Fund” was created. With help from Dr. Hassan I. Bukhari graduate of 1963 and Dr. Arif Muslim graduate of 1968, a fund raising campaign was started which included raffles charitable sales and seeking direct contributions from any one that we could convince.
The next move for me was to meet with Dr. Frank Davidoff, Professor of medicine at the University Of Connecticut School Of Medicine, who at that time was the Chief of the Department of Medicine at the New Britain General Hospital. I explained the plight of medical education in Pakistan to him and presented to him our plan of sponsoring one of the top students from our country for training in medicine if the hospital was willing to donate free lodging. To my utter delight, Professor Davidoff agreed and promised to discuss the details with the CEO of the hospital before finalizing the deal. Next month the plan was finalized.
By the end of 1984, there were enough funds in the PGE account to support one individual with a stipend combined with free housing and utilities. In order to keep the selection process fair and above any “safarish” and individual mistake, we decided that four people would interview every candidate. Each examiner would have a hundred points to award. Sixty five points for scientific knowledge, fifteen for ECFMG scores with one point for each score above seventy five. Fifteen for spoken English and general presentation. Five points were awarded for medals received. At the end of the interview, the scores from each of the examiners would be tabulated and the candidate with the highest combined score would be offered the position.
The first individual selected was Dr. Salman Rashid he came to Connecticut in July of 1984. At the end of the academic year Dr. Rashid was declared the best resident of the year.
1985 was the hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of KE Dr. Bukhari suggested that we should create an honor roll of people who contribute more than two thousand dollars for the PGE fund. Their names would be displayed on a plaque during the festivities as a permanent display in Patiala Block lobby. More than seventy people qualified for the honor roll which still exists in the stair hall of Patiala Block.
In 1989 the then program director and Chairman Department of Medicine at New Britain General Hospital Dr. James L Bernnene, impressed by the quality of intellect and knowledge of the KE graduates asked us to bring more graduates from KE. I pointed out that we can not fund more than one position he readily agreed pay for the additional positions. Eventually the program started paying for all of our residents. This resulted in reduction of the fund expenses to paying for traveling expenses of faculty other than KEMCAANA members traveling to Pakistan for conducting Interviews
In 1990 & 91 two of the programs brightest Residents DR. Jahanzeb Dr Faisal Sultan got fellowship at Washington University, St. Louis. Their teachers were so impressed by their caliber that they decided to join our program and now we were able to place one resident at Washington University. In 1996 when Dr. Jamil Mohsin a young Kemkolian arranged one position at Lincoln Memorial Center in New York for one person. Next year the Program Director at Lincoln Memorial Center convinced Dr. Daniel Shine Program director at Monmouth Medical Center in New Jersey to take one residents from Pakistan.
The attack on Twin Towers in New York and other targets in US on September 11, 2001 by Al-Qaeda Plane Highjackers changed the world as we knew it in one moment. The effect was most apparent and drastic in United States. The PGE program did not escape its effects. The first institutions to back out of our program were Washington University and Lincoln Memorial center followed by University of Connecticut. At this time Dr. Jahanzeb himself a graduate of our program had become an Associate Professor of Medicine at University of Tennessee. He convinced the Program Director in Medicine to give us one position. When in 2004 Monmouth Medical center also backed off, Dr. Jahanzeb arranged with the University of Tennessee give KEMCAANA two positions and these two positions are still available to us. The interviews for these positions are conducted at KE every December.
At the time of its inception the program opened the closed doors of training in USA for KE graduates. Now the advantages are that selected individuals do not have to bear the heavy expenses of travel to multiple places in USA for interviews and they also escape the uncertainties of the matching program. Three of programs graduates are serving in Pakistan at Shaukat Khanum Memorial hospital Lahore, Dr. Faisal Sultan is the CEO of SKM hospital. Since 1984 over one hundred individuals have trained in USA through this program.
In 1991 Dr. Mushtaq Sharif graduate of 1967 became the President of KEMCAANA. He initiated a “Model Ward” program in the East Medical ward at Mayo Hospital. Basic thought was to provide basic facilities for immediate investigations and patient care that is taken for granted here in USA. He single handedly collected equipment and funds for the program that was inaugurated in 1994. The program provided basic lab equipment like photometer for doing urgent chemistry tests right in the ward. A crash cart equipped with medications and instruments used during cardiopulmonary resuscitation, ambu bags were distributed through out the hospital. Gastro and colonoscopies have been donated along with Medical Audio and Video tapes for use by the house officers.
In 2001 KEMCAANA executive committee proposed to establish a computer at KE and the then President KEMCAANA Dr. Asim Malik spearheaded the fund raising effort not only to start but also to maintain the lab. The project was handed over to me for execution. The college gave a room in the Biochemistry Department which was renovated and furnished by KEMCAANA not only the computer equipment was installed but also a full time computer net work trained person, Mr. Rashid Javed was employed to mange and maintain the Lab. The computer lab has been functioning since the summer of 2002. This year KEMCAANA is planning to provide wireless network through the college and the hospital. The number of computer stations will be increased to 40, in addition to computers provided in the hospital for use by the clinical staff. This year it is planned to change the lab in to an E-Library by providing E Journals and E books. Incidentally Mr. Rashid has also developed the Web Site for KEMU and last year was recognized by the college for his outstanding services.
Although the concept had been there since 1980s it was in 2006 with Dr. Mumtaz Hassan still the principal of the college the Government finally granted it the Status of University to KEMC and named it King Edward Medical University. Dr. Mumtaz Hassan took over as acting Vice Chancellor of the University.
Now it was a dilemma for KEMCAANA whether to change its name or not. It is argued that this organization is that of the old students of King Edward Medical College who are all graduates of the Punjab University therefore we should not change the name at least for the time being. To this date no decision has yet been made.
Successive executive committees and Presidents of KECAANA over the years have wished and tried to get in touch with the KE students during the December meetings but beyond some informal or incidental encounters no meeting was held. This year with advice from young Kemcolians in USA it is planned to hold meetings in the middle of December 2006 with 3rd year and senior students of KEU to educate and assist them in preparing for obtaining Residency training positions in USA.