Mandatory rural service for medicos will benefit all
Successive state governments have been trying to connect young medicos and rural health centres for quite some time.
The Kerala government decides to assign postgraduate medical students, from government and private colleges, to rural hospitals for a period of three months. Rural service for them is being made mandatory for the first time, as per the stipulation of the National Medical Commission under the District Residency Programme. Over 1,300 students of the 2021 batch from 29 medical colleges will be posted at 78 rural hospitals. That includes taluk-district-general hospitals, mental health centres, women and children hospitals, TB centres and the state public health laboratory.
If implemented well, the initiative will make an immense impact in the health sector. The health department believes that postgraduate medicos’ services in rural hospitals will upgrade these hospitals and benefit the patients. Also, the service of specialist doctors at rural health centres could contain the rush to city hospitals and medical colleges. Above all, the decision is perceived as providing an opportunity for PG students to get hands-on experience running peripheral hospitals. It would also expose them to various issues related to the common person.
Successive state governments have been trying to connect young medicos and rural health centres for quite some time. But the plan has never been implemented due to resistance from the medicos as many think rural postings are difficult compared to working in city hospitals. As expected, a section of young medicos has also come up with reservations this time. While some complain about a need for more clarity regarding the guidelines, some are apprehensive about accommodation in remote locations. The health department, however, insists that the apprehensions over the lack of facilities are misplaced as most villages in the state have all the basic facilities available in towns. Peripheral experience would be of great help to budding medical professionals. Apart from providing more hands-on experience for the young doctors, it will also be a test of their service-mindedness—a quality that is integral to the medical profession. The government, on its part, must address the concerns of the students so as to ensure that such a future-oriented move doesn’t fall apart. At the same time, it should not cow down before the pressure from the medical fraternity and must implement the scheme for good.