How we train

Interview taken in 2020 by the Vellore CMC Foundation 

Dr. Pillai is Professor of Medicine and Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard Medical School. 


How do we turn teenagers who walk into our portals into compassionate, ethical and excellent carers?

Right from the beginning Ida Scudder knew that she could have little impact working on her own, and her vision was not just to treat, but also to train Indian women to go out as healthcare workers into the villages. So she began teaching 'compounders' (modern-day pharmacists) and nurses.

The first formal nursing course was started over a hundred years ago in 1909. Medical training for women began in 1918 with a Licensed Medical Practitioner course. In 1942 the MBBS degree course was started and in 1947 the College became fully co-educational. 

Today CMC Vellore offers 22 undergraduate degree courses (MBBS, nursing and Allied Health Sciences) and 10 undergraduate diploma courses (Nursing & AHS). There are 157 post graduate courses (degrees, fellowships and diplomas) in a full range of Medical, Nursing and AHS specialities, 6 Distance Education courses and PhD programmes in various disciplines. Training is available in fields as diverse as Dialysis Therapy, Medical Records Science and Neurosurgery.

Since its founding, CMC has trained more than 3,800 doctors, more than 9500 nurses and 2700 post-graduates and super-specialists. 


For around two decades now, CMC has consistently been ranked among the top medical colleges in the country. (Read about our recent accolades and our notable alumniThe College of Nursing is a WHO collaborating centre for Nursing and Midwifery Development. There are 100 seats for MBBS, and 100 each for Bachelor and Diploma of Nursing and 226 for undergraduate Allied Health programmes. 

There are a number of distinctive features of CMC courses. All of them, including nursing, are taught by qualified, experienced faculty who also participate fully in the clinical and administrative operations of the hospital. The courses are extremely practical, with students learning skills on the job in clinical and working laboratory settings.

While providing a full exposure to the very best in hospital medicine, there is also a strong emphasis on community and family medicine, and students spend time in rural community settings and small secondary hospitals in different parts of India. There is also a commitment to nurture and mentor the students to enable all round growth in social and spiritual spheres as well as intellectual.

One of CMC’s key roles is to help train the skilled and caring medical professionals who are desperately needed for hospitals throughout remote and rural areas of India.

The educational fees are probably the lowest in the world for a private institution and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are helped still further through scholarships that can cover all fees as well as hostel accommodation and food. This ensures that no one needs to be burdened by an educational loan to study at CMC, and many can then go on to serve in deprived areas of India.

Another way in which we aim to impact the whole of India, and not just Vellore, is through the Distance Education Department, and Continuing Medical Education (CME). The CMC Distance Education Department offers various Post Graduate courses in Family Medicine which have become an increasingly popular method for MBBS doctors to upgrade their skills while in the field. The training includes interactive video seminars and lectures through the Telemedicine Facility, which was set up in partnership with ISRO. 

They also offer Supplementary Education for Medical Students to enrich the training of medical students throughout the country and offer them hands-on experience in mission hospitals; and the Community Lay-Leaders Training Certificate which trains up to 200 NGO workers each year in remote parts of India to enable them to offer preventative and basic curative care to the communities they serve. Over 680 people are currently enrolled on these courses, including state government sponsored candidates and NGO personnel. 

The CME department is a valuable resource not just for CMC graduates but for many other doctors in Tamil Nadu and further afield. It provides regular seminars and lectures and a journal. Other departments offer distance learning courses in subjects such as HIV AIDS, while the Department of Endocrinology has a fellowship course in Diabetes management which trains 70 to 100 people per year. The College of Nursing also provides Continuing Nursing Education and a biannual journal. 

world-class education for students that goes beyond academic rigour

Image below features the former principals of CMC, starting with Dr. Ida Scudder.
The current principal, Dr. Anna B. Pulimood, CMC alumnus from the batch of 1982, is the fifth woman to hold the position.