The health ministry’s decision to make a year’s rural stint compulsory for medicos aspiring to join a postgraduate (PG) course has drawn widespread protest.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) state chapter has come forward to raise the issue on behalf of the medical students, who have planned to take out a protest march on Tuesday. Medicos of Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH), Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences and Anugrah Narayan Medical College and Hospital would take part in the march.
Sources said the Centre has decided to introduce the norm from the 2014-15 academic session.
At present, the duration of the MBBS course is 4.5 years after which one has to undergo a year’s internship. If the Centre’s proposal is passed, a student would be eligible for a PG course after 6.5 years.
Hareram Prajapati, a second-year MBBS student of the PMCH, said: “Only a student with strong determination would be able to pursue a PG course if the Centre’s decision is implemented.”
Adwait Aakash, a third-year MBBS student of the NMCH, said: “The Centre’s way of approaching the issue is wrong. In a way, the government is trying to force the MBBS doctors to spend a year in rural areas if they want to pursue postgraduation. That would violate the Right to Education Act.”
He added: “I am against the decision also because the government has not improved the infrastructure of rural health services. It should understand that MBBS doctors are not very experienced. They only have the basic degree and rural health services involve a lot of difficulties. Only PG doctors can deliver better services because of experience.”
The members of the state IMA have reservations about the decision.
Rajiv Ranjan Prasad, president, state IMA chapter, said: “By making a year’s rural posting mandatory for PG entrance examination, the government would actually be blackmailing students to work a year in rural areas, which is totally wrong. Can the Centre guarantee jobs to medicos in the rural areas? If not, it should not devise any such norm. IMA is against the decision. We have decided to take out a protest march tomorrow (Tuesday) regarding the issue,” said Prasad.
He added that the Centre’s decision would only discourage students about the PG course, when there is already a huge disparity in the number of MBBS and PG seats in the country.
“While 47,000 students get MBBS degrees in the country annually, there are only 17,000 PG seats,” explained Prasad.
IMA secretary Sanjeev Ranjan Kumar Singh said: “The government can divide the year’s rural posting into two six-month phases — during the yearlong internship after MBBS and in the first six months of the PG course.”