Objections raised to NMC’s district residency programme

Amid opposition from a section of postgraduate medical students, the Department of Health appears keen on the National Medical Board’s mandatory three-month district residency program for postgraduate students at regional hospitals.

In a circular issued a few weeks ago, the Director of Medical Education asked deans of government medical colleges to set up a committee under the academic cell to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the program, appoint a node official and submit details.

In the communication, the Management stated that the National Medical Board mandated that all MD/MS students rotate for three months in district hospitals or district health system as part of the program in the third or fourth or fifth semester. . This was a prerequisite for appearing in the final exams. Candidates accepted for the 2021-22 academic year must start the program from the third, fourth or fifth semester, that is, from next February.

The Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association (TNMOA) has opposed the program and asked the state government not to implement it. He said shortage of doctors in district and peripheral hospitals in various parts of the country was the reason behind the proposal, especially in north India. But that was not the case in a State like Tamil Nadu. TNMOA stated that the postgraduate curriculum should be aimed at training doctors in medical university hospitals in a particular specialty, where they would see more cases and perform complex procedures. There could be no gap in this specialized training with working in district hospitals where the facilities are less than in a tertiary care center. This would jeopardize the specialized training that graduate students undergo. TNMOA said the program was implemented for all States. Instead, States should be given the opportunity to decide whether or not to implement it based on the existing situation.

PS Kiran Kumar, secretary, legal wing, TNMOA, said, “In Tamil Nadu, we have already had enough exposure working in government hospitals and primary health centers, and we have a deep understanding of the district health systems and how they function. National Medical Boards he says, graduate students are aware of the functioning of district health systems. Making it compulsory to appear in the final exams is the main issue. The states have no say.”

A graduate student said some institutes have started collecting basic details such as date of admission and place of birth, while committees have been set up in other institutes. “Some graduate students in departments with long working hours and heavy workloads welcome the program, believing it will give them a break from the routine, while the rest are against it,” he said.

If the program is implemented in Tamil Nadu, which has made progress in social and health infrastructure over the last four decades, it will be a retrograde step, said P. Saminathan, president of the Association of Service Doctors and Graduates. “The graduates of the service already have the experience of serving in the countryside for three years. The National Medical Board’s claim that the program is to provide practical experience to rural health graduates is wrong because it will lead to a three-month deficit during the skill-upgrading period,” he said. An official said the program would be implemented on a rolling basis at the end of the first year.

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