Maharashtra stares at shortage of junior doctors

As the results of the National Eligibility and Entrance Test for postgraduate medical admissions (NEET-PG) remain on hold because of a pending court case, public hospitals across the state are staring at a massive shortage of junior doctors from May.

An ongoing battle in the Supreme Court between private medical colleges and the Medical Council of India over the conduct of a common entrance test has kept nearly a lakh medical students, including 8,000 from the state, on tenterhooks.

With the court vacation starting from May 13, students are now worried about losing the whole year.

Pravin Shingare, the in-charge director, Directorate of Medical Education and Research, said that the state would be short of about a third of the usual number of resident doctors.

"Usually, the fresh batch of students joins college from May 2 in the state," he said. "As the admission process is on hold, around 1,200 resident doctors will be missing from hospitals."

Another official said that even if an interim order were to come before the court vacation, it would take over a month to process the entrance test results and complete the counselling sessions.

NEET-PG was conducted by the National Board of Examinations (NBE) in November. The results were to be out by the end of January, but it was withheld because of the pending court case.

"Some of us have already begun preparing for next year's NEET-PG," a student from a Thane medical college said. "One of my friends has given up hope and has joined a private hospital. I have been doing nothing for six months. I am not even sure if I should take up a job in a private hospital. If the order is passed, I will not be able to leave the job without giving notice."

If the court at least allows the NBE to declare the results, students will get an idea on their position, claimed the student.

Another student said that bookings for postgraduate seats in several private medical colleges happen a year in advance. "Students have to pay a token amount in advance and the balance is paid at the time of admission, but the introduction of a common entrance test has thrown all these plans out of gear for private colleges," the student said.

For several thousands of students this year's PG entrance test was a roller coaster ride. While some claimed that they got to know about the pattern of the exam only a month before it was held, others claimed the difficulty level for the online test was not constant throughout the testing period, making it an unfair process.

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