NEW DELHI: A delay on the part of the government to decide on NEET PG examinations, deferred by over 7 months this year, has pushed nearly 2 lakh medicine graduates on the edge while also risking the potential crisis of resident doctors in medical colleges across India.
There is no clarity yet on when the examination, usually conducted for about 30,000 PG seats in medical colleges in January every year, will be held this year.
The examination, conducted by the National Board of Examination under the Union Health Ministry, was first deferred to April because of the Covid pandemic before being pushed further.
Later in April, when the devastating second wave of the pandemic hit the country, the government, following a high-level meeting by Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the test will not be conducted before August 31, which will allow final year MBBS students and interns to focus on clinical duties.
Students will also be given at least one month after the announcement of the exam before it is conducted, the government had said, adding that this will make a large number of qualified doctors available for Covid duties.
The idea was to utilise the final year MBBS students and junior residents to provide services such as teleconsultation and monitoring of mild Covid cases after due orientation under faculty supervision.
Several junior and senior resident doctors, however, now point out the issues this decision has created.
“Thousands of junior doctors had quit their work to prepare for NEET PG but the uncertainty around the examination is causing them immense financial and mental stress,” said Rohan Krishnan, a senior resident with a government hospital in the national capital,
He added that as most medical colleges are conducting PG final year examinations, while senior resident batches will move on, there will be no fresh batch of PG doctors who are the backbone of healthcare services in most government tertiary care centres.
“It indicates a complete lack of planning and farsightedness on the part of authorities and is highly frustrating for fresh doctors looking to pursue higher degrees.”
Manish Jangra, the founder of the Federation of All India Medical Association, said that resident doctors had written to top echelons in the Union government but to no avail so far.
“We are worried that if Covid cases start rising again, the examination will go indefinitely delayed and will lead to a complete loss of the year for thousands of doctors,” he said.
He stressed that the government should conduct the examination now when the pandemic situation is somewhat stable.