In a significant order, Tamil Nadu has lifted the restriction on the intake of students for internship at government medical colleges as a one-time measure to handle COVID-19.
“We have decided to rope in the foreign medical graduates [under the Compulsory Rotatory Residential Internship or CRRI] as part of the measures to strengthen the health workforce to manage the situation,” Minister for Medical and Family Welfare Ma. Subramanian told The Hindu .
The decision will pave the way for about 500 foreign medical graduates to join the health workforce. They have been waiting for internship, having completed their degree at foreign universities and cleared the qualifying examination conducted by the National Medical Commission.
The decision followed a proposal sent by the Director of Medical Education (DME), who underscored the urgent need for measures to contain COVID-19 cases that had reached “alarming proportions” with increased mortality.
The DME requested the government for permission to issue no-objection certificate (NOC) for the CRRI to students of other States, private colleges and other universities and foreign medical graduates without any ceiling.
The proposal was to relax the Tamil Nadu Medical Council’s stipulation that medical colleges issue the NOC to foreign medical graduates and students of other States after ensuring that the admission under the CRRI did not exceed 10% of the MBBS seats allotted by the National Medical Commission.
The DME said he should be permitted to issue the NOC to foreign medical graduates to undergo the CRRI at government medical colleges without obtaining the NOC from the Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University since the processing fee collected by the university was a “huge financial burden” on the students. The DME suggested that the fee be reduced to ₹2 lakh.
Under the existing fee structure, the foreign medical graduates seeking admission to the CRRI have to pay ₹5.5 lakh to get the NOC from the Dr. MGR Medical University. The DME also sought the lifting of the restriction on the internship by students of private and foreign medical colleges at seven government medical colleges — Madras Medical College; Stanley Medical College; Kilpauk Medical College, Chennai; Madurai Medical College; Mohan Kumaramangalam Medical College, Salem; Coimbatore Medical College; and Tirunelveli Medical College.
Acting on the proposal, the government authorised the DME to issue the NOC without any ceiling. The restriction on the intake of interns at the seven government medical colleges was lifted for this year only. But the fee structure was not changed as the order asked the authorities to follow the present procedure for fee collection.
Since the order doesn’t change the fee structure, the foreign medical graduates have appealed to the government to consider a total waiver of the CRRI fee at both government and private hospitals and increase the quota for them.