Saudi Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences

: 2013  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 116--117

Brain drain or brain retain?

Shyam K Parashar 
 Emeritus Professor, College of Medicine, University of Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Shyam K Parashar
P.O. Box 40015, Al-Khobar 31952
Saudi Arabia

How to cite this article:
Parashar SK. Brain drain or brain retain?.Saudi J Med Med Sci 2013;1:116-117

How to cite this URL:
Parashar SK. Brain drain or brain retain?. Saudi J Med Med Sci [serial online] 2013 [cited 2020 Dec 3 ];1:116-117
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Full Text

It is well known that the greatest export of most of the third world, and the so-called developing countries, is "Manpower." Some of this manpower is highly educated, experienced and extremely loyal toward their assignments. It is because of this that they are in great demand for high positions in universities, educational institutions, industries and private establishments. Invariably, they stay in countries where they are planted for a very long time, bloom and flourish and make significant contributions to the development of their adopted country.

Most developing countries call it "Brain Drain."

Saudi Arabia is no exception. It has expatriate manpower in high positions that have been here for decades and have mutually enriched together.

In addition to this, indigenous manpower that has been working in prestigious positions too is highly educated and experienced. The longer they work, the longer is their experience and thus enhanced desirability for their contributions.

Should this "Brain Power" be retained or "Retired and drained." This question has to be addressed by recently developed countries like Saudi Arabia.

It is true that the senior generation should move so as to allow the younger generation with more vigor and enthusiasm to replace them. But, this movement of seniors need not be in retirement and obscurity.

There can be ways and means to "Retain this Brain Power."

It should be emphasized that if someone has stayed and contributed for decades in any institution, his/her loyalty and desirability cannot be questioned, barring rare exceptions. There is therefore every justification for my suggestions.

I have honorably retired as faculty at the ripe age of 77 years from a Saudi University and have returned to my country. Hence, I have no personal interest in the suggestions that I am making. Many other expatriates are also in my situation. More and more will follow every year. Even indigenous faulty will face retirement one day.

Therefore, my suggestions are for the sake of indigenous faculty and seniors in other fields who will certainly benefit from the policy of "Brain Retain, rather than Brain Drain."

I strongly recommend that institutions in Saudi Arabia develop situations and positions where this treasure of experience can be utilized.

Because I belong to the medical fraternity, I shall limit my suggestions to this field only.

First, let us understand the fact that basic functions of medical clinicians and academicians are invariably more than one. They are expected to be teachers, trainers, clinicians and researchers, all in one, and that too to perfection. In practice, this is next to impossible. Persons may excel in one or rarely more than one field. This excellence can be "Exploited" post-retirement by absorbing them in specific areas.

For example, "Examinations" are an essential component of most evaluation processes. This involves setting up questions papers, especially of the multiple choice questions (MCQ) type, preparing objective structured clinical examination OSCE and clinical examinations and so on. There are good examiners and there are bad examiners; let us accept this fact. Then, why not retain the expertise of "Good examiners" even after retirement on specially created bodies that need not be on a regular service scale.

Universities, the Saudi Council for Health Specialties and other similar bodies can do this easily. At present, every faculty member is expected to setup MCQ and examine the students in OSCE and clinical, even though their training and experiences are very meager. The result will be obvious.

Why can this task not be assigned to standing committees of Universities and Saudi Councils that re-employ the retired and experienced "Good Teachers"?

For example, "An Examination Board" consisting of retired faculty who have proved their worth as examiners may be established in every university to help organize MCQ question papers, OSCE examinations and the formats of clinical/laboratory practical examinations.

It is annoying to me when I see only yesterday's fellowship graduate appointed as a faculty and who has barely a few months teaching experience becoming an examiner for undergraduate examinations in many departments. I pity the students whose fate is being determined by those who might have barely managed to pass after many attempts.

Many departments say that they have to do it for want of sufficient faculty staff.

 What a paradox!

On one hand, Universities cry for more staff and on the other hand they are bent upon retiring faculty of proven worth. Surely, Universities can find via media without violating national policies so that retiring talents can be re-utilized for the mutual benefit of both the parties.

This does not mean that young faculties are deprived of the experience of examinations. They can start as observers and later become junior examiners coupled with a senior till they mature and gain confidence.

The same principle may apply to retiring faculties with special interest in research, community service and administrative functions.

Institutions in other areas such as public and private enterprises and industry can also follow the same principle and make the best use of experience of their "Retiring" seniors.

All that is to be done is to differentiate between "Employ-ment" and "Retain-ment."

While younger generations are employed, seniors can easily be retained.

"Brain Drain" can easily be converted to "Brain Retain"!