Government Vellore Medical College paramedical students protest against lack of facilities

Around 80% of paramedical students of the college hail from other districts. The lack of hostels compels them to find accommodation outside college premises
Protests ensue | (Pic: EdexLive)
Protests ensue | (Pic: EdexLive)

The paramedical students of Government Vellore Medical College and Hospital have raised numerous concerns regarding the lack of proper hostels, designated classrooms or lecture halls, restrooms and even professors, while all such basic facilities are afforded to the MBBS, nursing students of the same college, stated a report in The New Indian Express.

The Government Vellore Medical College and Hospital, Adukkamparai town, was established in 2005, and a total of six paramedical courses were introduced in 2018. At present, over 400 students are enrolled in these courses, which include, Medical Laboratory Technology, Accidental and Emergency Care Technology, Operation Theatre and Anesthesia Technology, among others.

Students enrolled in other mainstream courses given more preference? 
Despite the growth in popularity of paramedical courses, there still exists a severe infrastructure gap that separates students enrolled in these courses from other more mainstream courses. Moreover, paramedical students note that MBBS students are often preferred over them, leading to their classes being rescheduled to late hours in favour of the latter.

Currently, all lectures for paramedical courses are conducted in the general lecture hall, which is occupied on a rotational basis to accommodate other courses. Due to this lack of a designated space, paramedical students often find themselves roaming the premises during breaks in search of shelter.

Additionally, despite the Government Order (GO) limiting medical student working hours from 8 am to 11.30 am, paramedical students are forced to stay until 1 pm, and even take up 24-hour postings at times. "We are treated like a workforce rather than students," a student said.

Around 80% of paramedical students of the college hail from other districts. The lack of hostels compels them to find accommodation outside college premises, with rent ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 7,000 per month. The students also incur additional charges for food, gas, electricity, water and other basic amenities. Even when the students have to stay late for postings, they have to rely on food from outside.

Students express anguish
One of the students said that even safety is an issue during late postings. They also highlighted that during such nights, due to mounting expenses and hurdles in preparing food, students go without food at times. They observed that hostel students are better supported in every way they are not. Furthermore, they noted this inequality between the students gets reflected in the stipend structure too, with paramedical interns deemed ineligible for stipends while diploma nursing interns get Rs 700 on a monthly basis, and MBBS interns even more.

Another student expressed frustration at how most college faculty also engage in discrimination, with paramedical students often being shouted at, with lecturers stating that they are being paid only to instruct MBBS students. "We don't even have a convocation ceremony," the student added.

"Most paramedical students are NEET (National Eligibility Entrance Test) aspirants who scored above 550 (out of 600), but still we get treated very poorly. After introducing these courses, the government must follow through and ensure there is proper infrastructure to support the new students. This lack of support is causing us a lot of suffering," a student said.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, the Resident Medical Officer at the hospital mentioned, "This issue extends beyond this college, across the state, No provisions are allocated to paramedical students. Requests have already been submitted to the district administration regarding the matter."

The hospital's dean was unavailable for comments.

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