It seems everyone is talking about us again and history shows that whenever this happens, we end up with more work and less life. On May 20, 2012, newspapers reported that the government had proposed to include a year of rural posting in the MBBS curriculum in a bid to improve rural health services. A year later on June 21, 2013, newspapers were once again abound with news claiming that the government was finally done with ‘loading of its guns’ and the ‘rural sentence’ will soon be passed. All MBBS graduates from 2014 onward, who aspire to study further will have to complete one year rural housesurgeonship in order to be eligible for PG entrance. Those who wish to set up practice after MBBS itself (which is quite a minimal fraction) are free from this rule. The Government and MCI are also considering financial incentives for students, however that “component of the proposal is yet to be finalized”.
Let us face the ground realities now. Health ministry statistics show that there is more than 60% shortage of general doctors and more than 80% shortage of specialists in rural India. As doctors, it is our primary duty to treat the diseased and help the needy. Medicine is not just ‘another profession’. If we do not step up to help the government in furthering the welfare of our villages, how can we expect to sustain them and continue building our ‘Dream India’ on their shoulders?
To those of my friends who are too repelled by the idea itself, with the question “Why should we do this after so much hard work?” evident in their expression, I would like to point out that if this is their reaction, we can’t actually expect our specialists to turn up in villages. As an undergraduate student myself, I am not oblivious to the fact that a lot of hard work and money goes into getting a MBBS degree (especially if you are studying in a private college). Personally, I would never consent to go and practice charity in a village. However, a year is not much to ask for and that too just after our graduation. It will not only provide us with more time to study for PG entrance but also allow us to hone our professional skills under senior doctors. Not to forget that such an arrangement with continuous influx and efflux of doctors will help us drastically improve healthcare in rural areas. It could also be an eye-opener for many of us leading to greater participation once we complete our specialization.
No doubt many modalities like financial incentive (or rather I should call it ‘salary’), due consideration for those who have raised loans to study, quality assessment and enhancement in education to make sure that UGs are able to deliver required services, etc. need to be addressed by the government, in all, it is best we have.
It is just like symbiosis, a dynamic equilibrium and we should embrace it as part of our duty towards the nation, the society and as citizens of a democracy for the people, of the people and by the people. It appears to be the only amicable solution to this long-standing deterrent of our system.
Source of statistics and news quotes: TOI