Medical students frustrated as problems continue

Pranita Roy
Sunday, 19 May 2019

The issue of reservation has once again put students of our country in the lurch. If the expensive medical education, less number of seats in post graduation and super-specialisation wasn’t enough to develop a healthy competition among students to get seats in the best government medical college, now, a 16 per cent Maratha quota under socially and economically backward class (SEBC) category has been added to the issue. 

The issue of reservation has once again put students of our country in the lurch. If the expensive medical education, less number of seats in post graduation and super-specialisation wasn’t enough to develop a healthy competition among students to get seats in the best government medical college, now, a 16 per cent Maratha quota under socially and economically backward class (SEBC) category has been added to the issue. 

This is likely to ignite a debate among students over the deserving and undeserving candidates for medical education. The recent chaos in postgraduate medical admission for MDS and MD courses have put an over 3,500 PG aspirants of open category in a fix. 

What happened?
After Maharashtra Assembly had passed the 16 per cent reservation of Maratha community under SEBC category in November 2018, all educational institutes were directed to make the required changes in the admission process. As the PG medical admission had started in October 2018, this provision was incorporated by Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) in March 2019.

The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court had overruled the application of 16 per cent Maratha reservation, which was hailed by Supreme Court as well. Followed by which admission made in Round I and II inclusive of Maratha quota were cancelled. This irked the Maratha community. To pacify them, the State government has now passed an ordinance stating to amend SEBC Reservation Act 2018 to give protection to the applied candidates.

The State government has also assured to reimburse the fee amount of those affected open category students who have got admission in private medical colleges.

Ordeal for PG aspirants
On a condition of anonymity, a doctor questioned whether professional courses like Chartered Accountancy (CA) have reservation? While PG aspirants of the open category have asked when all students become doctors after completing MBBS and come on the same pay scale or stipend, then why does anybody require reservation?

One of the candidates from Wardha who has secured the 88th rank in the state merit list has been forced to take admission in a private medical college in the paediatrics department, whereas she wanted admission in dermatology course in King Edward Memorial Hospital and Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College in Mumbai. 

“I don’t want any scholarship from the government. I want what I deserve. I didn’t struggle and study hard to get admission in private colleges and deemed universities. I had to compromise on the subject because there were no seats in dermatology. But according to last year, the number of seats have been increased in government colleges and the rank I have received would have easily got admission in any good government medical college,” she said.

“Competition for admission in government medical colleges has always been fierce. The reason being it has a huge number of patients compared to private medical colleges where there is a dearth of patients. Government hospitals are generally overloaded with patients and there we get hands on experience in the surgical field and treating the patient directly. This helps us to become a better doctor,” said another student from an open category on the condition of anonymity who has completed her MBBS in Maharashtra Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (MIMSR) Medical College in Latur. 

”Whereas, in private medical colleges, these opportunities are very less because the number of patients is less and only senior doctors are allowed to treat them directly. Juniors only assist. Therefore we lack in getting exposure,” she added. 

While the SEBC quota has not only affected the open category students but also those from SC/ST, VJ/NT categories. NT has only two per cent reservation. Therefore, it is anyway difficult to get admission through this quota. But many candidates from NT category work hard to bring merit higher than an open category candidate and take the open category seat. However, this year, that chance also looks slim because already candidates of the open category are struggling to get their deserving seats, said a student who is of NT category from Latur and has secured 1,209 ranks in the State. 

Last year, candidates of this rank had sought admission in MD Anaesthesia, MS ENT, MS Surgery in government medical colleges and this year, there are no chance to get a seat in these streams, he said.

Lengthy curriculum, less opportunity!
Experts from the medical fraternity have opinionated that this will cause to brain drain and discourage candidates to take up medical education.

Secretary of Indian Medical Association Dr Suhas Pingle said that medical education is one of the lengthiest curriculum in the country. A student spends as many as 12 years in completing medical education from undergraduate course to compulsory internship, post graduation to super specialisation. So if a candidate has to compare, he/she is technically earning in thousands at the age of 29 years old whereas their peers from engineering and MBA backgrounds may be earning in lakhs of rupees.

Doctors have also stated that already many meritorious students are opting for courses other than medical education because of the total investment and returns from it. Nevertheless, those who don’t get admissions in medical colleges here opt for 
foreign institutes. Pingle cited an example of a decision taken by Raj Narain, the former health minister who had ordered to provide admission in two batches in a gap of six months when the number of students seeking admission in general science and inter-science stream was increasing. 

Pingle said the government should think about a solution to this chaos. In 1984, when private medical colleges were being established, the fraternity has strongly opposed privatisation. This only leads to commercialisation and the ultimate sufferers are society, said Pingle. However, the government should increase the number of seats in Government medical colleges to resolve this problem, he stated.

However, Dr Nitin Bhagali, a medical expert, opined that an increase in seats will be a burden on the infrastructure. “Before increasing the seats, we should consider if there are an adequate number of professors available to teach. Our quality of education will be affected by if only seats are increased and  infrastructure is not improved. Moreover, no education should endorse reservation. Education should be provided strictly on the basis of merit,” he said.

Bhagali highlighted that India has one of the best medical care and education facilities. “We should instead think about developing our medical education which can attract students from foreign countries also. We have the potential. Instead, our students have been going to abroad for education because of an unsupported system. Currently, not a single foreign student apart from Indian origin NRI studies medicine in India,” he said. Doctors have expressed fear that this will slowly create a dearth of doctors in the country.

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