One-year rural posting is mandatory for MBBS graduates who wish to apply for postgraduation

The Centre’s move to make a one-year rural posting mandatory for MBBS doctors who wish to pursue postgraduate studies has evoked a mixed response from students and doctors in the city.

In the past, proposals for compulsory rural practice have faced stiff opposition from medical students across the State. Nearly five years ago, the Union health ministry had proposed to extend the duration of the five-and-a-half-year MBBS course by an additional year to make rural posting mandatory. This was withdrawn after protests.

A government medical college student said the latest proposal was just in a different form. “The Centre has said we can begin practice after receiving our degree but are eligible for the PG entrance exam only on completion of a year’s rural posting. This will definitely discourage many students from taking up medicine. This will also pose a difficulty to first-generation learners who look to start earning at the earliest to support their families,” he said.

Kavin Kumar, coordinator of Tamil Nadu Medical Students Association, said the move was aimed as a cost- and job-cutting measure.

“At least 40,000 doctors pass out every year in the country. Most of these doctors will aspire for a PG degree. By posting us to rural areas, the government need not worry about filling the existing vacancies and can simply manage with MBBS pass-outs year. The State government should issue a statement opposing the Centre’s move,” he said.

Doctors in Tamil Nadu do not shy away from working in rural areas, however, he said. Recently, the Directorate of Medical Services recruited more than 2,100 MBBS doctors through the medical services recruitment board.

“At least 75 per cent of these postings are in rural areas. We give one mark for one year of rural service in the PG entrance exam,” an official said.

Working in rural areas would provide increased exposure, said another medical student. “I am familiar with diseases in the urban population. We see more cardiac problems and cancer here, while villagers face problems of infectious diseases. It will definitely give me a better exposure,” he said.

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