The Tamil Nadu Medical Students Association (TNMSA) is intensifying its protests against the Central government’s proposal of a one-year compulsory rural posting for MBBS graduates who want to pursue a postgraduate degree.

On Thursday, students of three city government medical colleges along with their counterparts in various districts wore black badges to classes to register their protest.

The Centre has planned to introduce rural postings from this academic year, citing a massive shortage of medical personnel in rural areas.

The students said they want permanent jobs in rural areas, not temporary postings. According to TNMSA, every year, 43,000 medical students passed out of 362 colleges across the country. This will increase to 50,000 in the next 10 years.

“If these doctors are posted on a temporary basis to rural health facilities such as primary health centres and community health centres, then the government will not find it necessary to appoint doctors on a permanent basis. This will deny permanent employment to doctors,” said S. Prasanth, coordinator of TNMSA.

He said medical students and house surgeons of Madras Medical College (MMC), Government Stanley Medical College and Government Kilpauk Medical College wore black badges to classes and as well as to hospitals. “Government medical college students in Chengalpattu, Salem, Coimbatore, Tiruvarur, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari have also joined the protest,” he added.

This is the second protest on the issue, the first being staged by students of MMC last month.

A final-year student of Stanley Medical College said posting doctors to rural areas was a welcome move but it should not be made compulsory. “It takes at least 12 or 13 years for a doctor to set up a practice of his own and establish himself in the community. If this one-year posting is introduced, it will extend this period further. If the government creates permanent posts however, it would benefit both residents of rural areas as well as doctors. The rural posting should be optional and doctors who take it up should be given additional marks in the postgraduate entrance exam,” he said.

Another student said if the duration of medical studies was extended, as it would be if the posting was made compulsory, it would make students from poor families and women less inclined to pursue an MBBS.

TNMSA demanded that the Centre withdraw its decision and urged Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to intervene in this issue. A meeting with representatives of all colleges will be held on July 21 to decide on the next phase of protests, a member said.

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