MBBS graduates pursuing postgraduate (PG) studies will soon have to compulsorily serve one year in villages before they get their PG degrees. In a move meant to address shortage of medical practitioners in rural areas, the BJP Government has asked the Medical Council of India (MCI) to change the existing three-year medical PG course to accommodate within its duration a year-long mandatory village posting for medics pursuing PG.
This decision is in contrast to the one taken by the previous UPA Government which had made one-year rural posting for MBBS graduates an eligibility for writing the PG exam. The BJP Government, after discussions with stakeholders, has decided to shelve the previous regime’s recommendation of either considering the village posting a precondition to write the PG test or extend the MBBS duration by a year to accommodate the said village posting period.
“All stakeholders resisted the previous decision. We have brainstormed on the issue and decided that a medical student while pursuing PG must spend a year in villages. We have asked the MCI to accept this recommendation,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan today told The Tribune on the sidelines of his presentation on 100 day achievements of the BJP regime.
Health Minister said the compulsory rural posting move be rolled out as early as next year. He also said there was “no move to extend MBBS duration as suggested earlier”. The previous Government’s decision to make village posting for docs a precondition to write the PG test was shot down on grounds that medical graduates found it difficult to concentrate in villages while being preoccupied with the thought of clearing their PG test.
"We decided that it was better to have MBBS graduates spend a year in rural areas when they are already enrolled for PG. We have accordingly asked the MCI to tweak the PG courses and create space for year-long rural posting. We have even allowed the flexibility to serve the rural posting in two phases of six months each," said government sources.
India produces 50,000 MBBS graduates annually and has 25,000 primary health centres across the country. The statistics bear out the fact of doctor shortage in rural areas.
Out of 50,000 MBBS graduates, around 25,000 annually go in for PG studies. The government feels it can have a doctor in each of the PHCs only if it can tap the 25,000 PG students for village postings annually.
The issue of mandatory rural posting of medical graduates has been debated for a long time without results.