Rural stint conditional for MD-
A plethora of problems plagues medical care in rural areas of the state; not least on the list is a lack of doctors. Most doctors who sign up for work in state-run hospitals invariably quit, frustrated by poor working conditions and facilities.
The government, though, is taking iron-clad action. Earlier this week, it sacked 43 doctors who refused to show up for work, as reported by Mirror on Saturday.
Now, the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) had made it mandatory for Doctor of Medicine-Diploma (MD-Diploma) students to complete a one-year stint in rural areas before pursuing higher education.
Until now, students were allowed to serve out their bond — pledging that they would work in rural areas for a year — after completing higher studies.
But a circular issued by the DMER on August 6, puts an end to this practice. About 230 students would be affected, more so as the order comes after several students had appeared for entrance exams to higher education courses.
“Earlier, thanks to a court order which stated that no one could stop students from pursuing their education, students used to return later and serve out their one-year bond,” said Dr Santosh Wakchaure, president, Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors.
“Now, diploma students cannot secure admission for higher education unless they complete their one-year stint in a rural area. The DMER issued this order after social activist, Pournima Upadhay, filed a PIL against the lack of doctors in rural areas.”
Dr Pravin Shingare, director of DMER, claimed that the decision also stemmed from the fact that many students did not turn up to execute their bond. “Previously, they would sign an affidavit stating that they would return to serve out their bond after completing their education.”
But most students did not come back which is one of the reasons for this circular. We have also started imposing a penalty on them.”
MD-Diploma students are livid, claiming that instead of the DMER going after the few black sheep, it is punishing them all. Moreover, they say, it points to a failure on the part of the government to enforce the affidavit.
“The government took the affidavit lightly,” said a student from BJ Medical College. “Why don’t they punish the students who signed the affidavit, but did not show up for work? We are willing to serve out the bond, but we want to finish our education first in one go.”
Students fear that they would lose touch if they were to break their studies for a year. "How can one study for a competitive exam while working in a rural area?” wondered the student.
“Most of us have appeared for Diplomate of National Board (DNB) exams and are awaiting our results. We now have to go for counselling, but DMER is not releasing our certificates. Had they told us earlier, we would have sat for the exams in the first place.”
Another student from BJMC said, "This circular has been issued only in Maharashtra. Instead of asking us to serve in rural areas, the government should instead appoint those who have completed their MBBS.
This would not only serve the government’s purpose, but it would help rural folk too as a patient who requires a super-specialist would have access to one. Now they are simply referred to a district hospital. Why don’t they properly utilise the skills of these super-specialists?"