Published: 04th September 2017
Had my father been a student today, he would never have become a doctor: Dr S Gurushankar
Dr S Gurushankar, Chairman of Meenakshi mission Hospital and Research centre opens up about the journey of his father and how hard it was for him to become a doctor from a rural background
My father Dr N Sethuraman was born to a poor farmer from Varappur village near Madurai. He studied and worked hard to become a successful doctor. Education enabled him to overcome poverty. He had the drive to start a hospital which today has become the largest multispecialty hospital in South Tamil Nadu.
But had my father been a student today, he would never have become a doctor. Instead, he may have ended up like the 17-year-old girl Anitha, heartbroken and driven to suicide. He was fortunate that there was no NEET in his times.
Dr S Gurushankar, Chairman, Meenakshi Mission Hospital & Research Centre
With NEET, the policy makers have introduced a system in which students are evaluated on a new, higher standard. This gives a clear advantage to students from cities, as the quality of education in rural areas is substandard. Rural students need to study extra hours and take additional coaching to merely keep up with city-bred students in the race to become a doctor. Almost all NEET coaching centers exist in cities, none in villages. In this situation, how can one expect a rural student to become a doctor except with super-human effort?
The tragic death of Anitha is not just another suicide, but a symptom of denial of equal opportunities to students from rural areas. The urban bias of NEET will lead to a situation where students from cities will gradually monopolize medical admissions.
Upon graduation, they will have a very high tendency to shun rural areas which offer almost no opportunities to earn money or build a career. Over the coming years, NEET can seriously undermine the rural healthcare system. Patients in villages will have no access to even primary healthcare, as no doctors would be available to staff rural hospitals.
Policy makers should understand that NEET is not merely about medical admissions, but has wider ramifications. It risks becoming another burden for healthcare entrepreneurs like me who are already struggling to open hospitals in rural areas in the absence of any incentive from the Government. Plans to open new hospitals in villages and semi-urban areas of Tamil Nadu will be hit if it becomes difficult to find doctors willing to work in rural areas. This will worsen the already decrepit rural healthcare. Our villages have already lost the battle for water and agriculture. Should they also stop hoping for basic healthcare facilities?