‘MBBS graduates should have the right to opt for higher studies’

Vice-Chancellor of Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) K.S. Sriprakash has underlined the need to redefine the policy on mandatory rural posting at a public health centre (PHC) for one year for MBBS doctors.

Speaking at the Graduation Day ceremony at the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Dr. Sriprakash said incentives should be given to those who opt for rural posting. “Anything done out of compulsion is not going to help. MBBS graduates should have the right to opt for higher studies,” he said, adding that there was a need for the government to work out a policy without imposing a penalty clause on students.

To a query on how the government should address the issue of shortage of doctors in rural areas, Dr. Sriprakash said that as there were very few vacancies in Primary Health Centres, the issue could be addressed by motivating doctors to serve in rural areas by providing them good infrastructure and accommodation. “Only 50 per cent of the MBBS graduates pursue higher studies, so the rest can be encouraged to opt for rural service, but imposing penalty on those who don’t is not democratic,” he said.

At present MBBS graduates have to serve in a rural area compulsorily for a year or pay penalty of Rs. 1 lakh. And, as per the new rules, students from 2012 batch onwards will have to pay a penalty of Rs. 10 lakh if they do not serve in a rural area for a period of one year after their graduation, Dr. Sriprakash added.

Several graduating doctors said they would rather pay the penalty than opt for rural posting. Sphoorthi Pai, a new graduate, said she was interested in pursuing her higher education rather than serving in a rural area compulsorily for one year. Seconding her, Suraj Muralidhar, another graduate, said he would be better “prepared” to serve in a rural area after his post graduation. Earlier, the former Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde, who was the chief guest at the Graduation Day ceremony, urged the young doctors to do their jobs diligently and serve those in need.

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