Published: 14th May 2022
With NEET-PG exam postponement verdict done and dusted, what does the medical community make of the situation in medical colleges?
Supreme Court's verdict was that a further delay in conducting the exam would lead to "chaos and uncertainty" as well as a "deficiency in doctors in hospitals"
As the NEET-PG hearing was held in the Supreme Court on Friday, May 13, over its postponement beyond May 21, the question on everyone's mind was if aspirants would get some relief in terms of preparation time for the exam. Now that the verdict has denied any chances of postponement, the motivation behind the decision needs to be understood.
The Supreme Court's verdict was that a further delay in conducting the exam would lead to "chaos and uncertainty" as well as a "deficiency in doctors in hospitals." The move to conduct the exam as scheduled needs to be looked at in the context of accommodating different medical batches when there won't be a gap of one year between two successive admission cycles. EdexLive spoke to various associations of medical practitioners and students to understand the reality of this scenario and how it would impact incoming doctors and their academics.
Back to normal
The move to bring admission cycles in medical colleges back to pre-COVID schedules by the government has been cited by some quarters of the medical fraternity. "There wouldn't be an issue in accommodating as currently, there are only two batches of students in PG medical colleges. The government is now taking a stand to regularise admissions. It may have an impact on a few batches of students but in the larger interest, the move needs to be looked at on a positive note. If the exam was delayed further, then medical colleges would have had to run with only two batches of students," says Dr JA Jayalal, professor and Head of Surgery at Kanyakumari government medical college.
Dr Kabir Sardana of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, however, states that NMC would have to manage the accommodation of two new batches in less than a year. "It would be a complicated thing to accomplish besides the paucity of doctors."
Dr Jayalal also shed light on the fact that most doctors who clear the NEET-PG exam are not immediate graduates. "Furthermore, most students who get seats after writing the NEET-PG are not those who have recently completed their MBBS, but those who have been preparing for the exam for at least one year. If the internship deadline is missed by a fraction of the time period, candidates must instead focus on utilising that time to prepare for the next exam cycle," he went on to state.
The gap in time
Some sections of the medical community also stressed that the outgoing batch of PG students can be relieved as soon as the NEET-PG 2022 counselling is done. When asked about the reduced time gap between successive batches, a doctor at Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi, who wished to remain anonymous, said, "It will be a new situation in medical colleges, for sure. But premier institutes like AIIMS and PGIMER Chandigarh have been conducting admissions in half-yearly cycles for a long time. So, the clinical workload of students can be planned in that way. It is possible as has been shown."
But Dr Akshay S, an AIIMS Bathinda PG student, feels that conducting entrance every six months is easier in AIIMS as the counselling schedule is much shorter. When asked about how the training of new PG students would be affected, he said, "It will be hampered as one batch would have already graduated while the education of the second batch would have been hit hard due to COVID duties. The batch that joined earlier this year would only be a few months senior to those who would join based on NEET-PG 2022."
One good thing that might result due to decreased time gap between the batches is the easing of workload for the second year students. "Earlier we would have had to wait one year before juniors joined but now our workload would be reduced much earlier. Besides, the majority of the work in the first year is learnt in the initial three to four months so the short gap between successive batches is not necessarily a problem," says a first-year PG medical student from Jaipur, who wished to remain unnamed. His ideas were reciprocated by another resident orthopaedic doctor from Vardhman Mahavir Medical College at Safdarjung Hospital. "We are the batch that has just joined and we have a huge workload as one senior batch has already graduated and currently, there are just two batches working in the college," he said while choosing to remain anonymous.
There is yet another section of doctors who feel that the decision would cause an unwanted skew in medical colleges. "Infrastructure-wise, this would hurt medical colleges. From the students' perspective, they'll be getting less exposure and involvement in fewer surgeries. It will also hamper their academics. Suddenly bringing back normalcy in schedule is not desirable," says Dr Rohan Krishnan, President of the Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA).