Published: 13th January 2023
NEET PG 2023: Internship cut-off dates have cut off peace from students' academic lives
With March 31 as the cut-off date, about 50 per cent of the aspirants are rendered ineligible to appear for the exam
"The exam is for us. If we are not eligible, who is?" asks Prashant Kumar Singh, a NEET PG 2023 aspirant from Bihar. With March 31 as the internship cut-off date, about 50 per cent of the aspirants are rendered ineligible to appear for the exam. Worried, students hope for the government to intervene and extend the date. The thought of having to lose a year worries them the most.
Dr Prashant is an intern at the Bhagwan Mahavir Institute of Medical Sciences (BMIMS), Nalanda and the Past National Convener IMA MSN (Indian Medical Association Medical Students' Network). "Through a Google Response sheet that we circulated, we found that students from 111 medical colleges in India face the problem of losing a year if the internship cut-off date is not revised," he said.
The internship cut-off date was announced by the National Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences (NBEMS) on January 7. According to the information bulletin for nEET PG 2023, those students who complete their internship by March 31, 2023, are only eligible to appear for the exam. However, students complain that delays in the academic session cropped up due to COVID-19 last year, hence, their internships started late, and would not be completed by the cut-off date. Thus, their requests for extension.
"It is not our fault that there was a delay last year. These are administrative issues," says Dr Raghunandan R, an aspirant from Tagore Medical College, Chennai. Agreeing, "It is not our responsibility. Conducting the exams and starting internship posting is the college's responsibility," says Dr Sakshi Singh, an aspirant from Heritage Medical College, Varanasi, and National General Secretary of IMA MSN.
The students are also concerned that if they lose a year, they will lose touch with the syllabus. "Internship is the time when we are well-versed with the subjects and appear for the exam easily. It will be difficult to revise everything after a year," says Dr Raghu. Additionally, the aspirants state that there will be double the number of competitors next year, with the piling up of new interns and repeaters.
"A bulk of the 2017-18 batch, along with those who did not make it in 2021 would apply for the exam," Dr Prashant said. On the other hand, Dr Ragini Sharma, a student from MANC (Maulana Azad Medical College) Delhi, informs that students who will indeed be appearing for NEET PG 2023 this year will be very few. "They will also be disadvantaged because as most of the top scorers are being rendered ineligible this year, their merit would be questionable," she added.
The students point out yet another problem with the arrangement, which pertains to the technical difficulty colleges will face in admitting the PG batches. There would arise situations when colleges will have to admit two simultaneous batches. Even the professors would find it difficult to teach if this happens, the aspirants observe.
Dr Ragini explains how this may happen: In our college, we usually have 3 PG batches. With delays due to COVID-19 last year, only one batch was admitted in March, while the next came much later in November. Now, if we appear for the exam in March 2023 and join as another batch, it will be problematic.
"Due to this possibility, we were expecting the NEET PG 2023 exam dates to be revised when they were initially announced. However, that didn't come off," Dr Ragini adds. "Since only one batch was admitted in March, there was a heavy workload last year. Despite that, we continued our studies with the posting. It is very frustrating to know that we are not even eligible," she said further.
When do the students need an extension?
The internship completion date varies for different states. While it ends on May 31-June 2 for students in Tamil Nadu, it ends in April for Uttar Pradesh candidates, but in late July for students in Bihar and Odisha. A major group of students are asking for an extension till May 31, the cut-off date of last year. However, Dr Prashant opines that again some students would be left out with it. Therefore, he favours July 31 as the ideal date.
The IMA from several states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, New Delhi has written to the NBEMS and other authorities to extend the cut-off date. Students too have approached authorities of their colleges to write to the exam conducting body. However, no change has been made so far.
"The government has communicated that it is not willing to extend the date since doing so would advance the NEET PG Counselling dates. The government doesn't want to delay the Counselling. But it is not an individual's problem or any individual college's problem. So, the government should take note of it," said Dr Raghu.
"NMC (National Medical Commission) should consider the situation and also how it is affecting the students' mental health. We are confused about our next step. On one hand, we are losing a year and on another, we are continuing to work our internships while studying. If the date is not advanced to make everyone eligible, should we stop preparing? We cannot decide. And there is so little time left to prepare!" said Dr Lakhan Prakash Gupta, President of Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (Aligarh Muslim University).