CHENNAI: There has been no respite for Dr Sangeetha* from her tiring work schedule for more than a year now. The 26-year-old is among the many second year post-graduate students in the State’s government medical college hospitals, who have lost their sleep as they still don’t have any juniors to share their burden. The delay in the counselling for PG NEET 2021 has meant that these students, who are obliged to work in hospitals as part of the course, have a hectic life at the start of their careers.
“My emergency duty started at 7.30 am on Saturday and I finished around 12.30 pm on Sunday. My next shift starts at 6 pm. I am physically and mentally exhausted, and have lost my personal life. I don’t even have time to attend to my mother’s phone calls,” said Sangeetha.
Sangeetha said once during her first year, she started her duty on a Saturday and got relieved only on Tuesday evening. “This is still continuing. Even though I am in the second year, I still do basic works in wards, which are supposed to be done by first year students,” she said. First year PG doctors have to follow-up patients, admit them, take their history, check their blood pressure before surgeries, and get clearance from specialist doctors for the surgery of patients with comorbidities. Post surgery, they have to check on the patient’s condition, Sangeetha said.
Dr Keerthy Varman, a second year PG doctor at the Government Stanley Medical College Hospital, said, “Our work has only doubled since the pandemic. Now, non-Covid services have also resumed. Then there were the medical camps during floods, and Covid vaccination duty. We have to do all these.” The doctors rued that the busy hours have left them with very little time for their studies. “There is no time for our peripheral postings to other departments such as cardio-thoracic, where we learn their specialities. When will I study my lessons or learn new things when I am still busy doing routine ward works,” asked Dr Keerthy Varman. He added that they were compensating for about 2,000 PG first year students (including diploma) in government medical colleges, who are yet to be let in.
A second year PG student at the Royapettah Government Hospital said, “If juniors are there, they can take care of ward duties on the days we go for peripheral duty. But now if we leave and go for peripheral duty, no one is there to do routine works.” The doctors said they are still uncertain on until when the situation would continue. The PG counselling was temporarily suspended due to a case on the EWS quota seats, which is pending in the Supreme Court.
The doctors association had recently met Health Minister Ma Subramanian and requested the State Government to pressurise the Union Government, and request the Supreme Court to finish the hearing quickly and conduct the counselling. It had demanded contract extension for doctors recruited for mini-clinics, and posting them in hospitals under the Directorate of Medical Education till the first year PG students come. It had also asked for the service of Covid medical officers who were temporarily recruited during the Covid second wave, to compensate the manpower shortage. Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry has issued a plea to fast track the court hearing.