Will we finally get rid of the ‘break’ system in medical education? An alternative proposed by the Vice Chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical varsity some time ago is back in consideration now.

As per current practice, medical students who have failed the first year, have to wait six months to continue in the same year. In one voice, students have protested this system. The alternative proposed by VC Mayil Vahanan Natarajan will allow the students to continue their studies in the subsequent year, but the student can take the next year’s exam only if he or she retakes the previous year’s examination and gets through.

“Candidates become mentally depressed that they cannot go on to the second phase of study unless they pass the exam. I suggest that those candidates who have failed the first professional examination of the MBBS degree course may be allowed to progress to the second phase of training, but be permitted to appear for Phase 2 examination, only after passing the Phase 1 tests,” Dr. Mayil Vahanan had said in his note.

This is being welcomed unanimously. M.Kamaraj, of the Tamil Nadu Government Medical Students Association, says, “This is exactly what we are looking forward to. It will be a huge relief for us. As it is, MBBS is a five year course. If they allow students who fail to carry over their papers, as in the norm with collegiate education elsewhere, it will be great.” Currently, the break system is in place only in the first and final year of education. Students are protesting only the break in the first year, as they recognise that in the final year, one will have to clear all papers before proceeding on to the house surgeon phase.

“The break is very demoralising for a student, especially those in the first year. These people become a separate batch, not in the first year, not in the second, and they find it difficult to integrate themselves with the crowd,” Kamaraj adds. Doing away with the break system is undebatably the best way to go, he opines.

It is a welcome move, indeed, according to G.R.Ravindranath, Doctors Association for Social Equality. In fact the carry over system is being followed in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh among other states, he says. “But the question is, do we need Medical Council of India approval to change the status quo? Or can the University go ahead and implement it without MCI approval?”

Whatever the case, Dr. Ravindranath urges that it is important to implement it as soon as possible, in order to be of benefit to all batches of students.

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