Seats reservation proposal at PG level for doctors draws mixed response
50% reservation already exists in some states for medical officers, more quotas not needed, argue doctorseducation Updated: Jan 10, 2017 21:01 IST
Opinions differ on suggestions in the proposed Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill 2016 on reservation of 50% seats in postgraduate (PG) medical courses in government colleges by the state governments and union territories. This quota will be for medical officers in government services who have worked for three years in remote or difficult areas.
Some medical experts praise the proposal, others say it’s not required as 50% PG seats are already reserved for medical officers. To avail the quota, the Bill proposes that doctors give the national exit test at the MBBS level, get their PG degrees and then work in the remote areas for a minimum of three years.
Dr Arun Kumar Agarwal, former president, Delhi Medical Council is in favour of the 50% reservation, but feels it should not be combined with the exit exam. State governments already have a reservation of 50% seats in PG courses at government medical institutions to ensure a steady supply of specialists to various health posts in the state health services cadre.
Dr Bipin Batra, executive director, National Board of Examinations, feels the supply of medical specialists does not equal demand and the reservations will ensure that the state governments augment their specialist cadre. The scheme has been successful in some states and the changes proposed will provide a statutory framework for the same. “However, this does not alter the supply of total seats available for medical graduates,” adds Batra.
Will reserving 50% PG seats add to the shortage of PG medical seats in the country? It won’t compound the problem, says Dr Batra. This scheme only creates a new goal post, i.e. the medical graduates targeting this pool of seats will serve state medical cadre positions for three years.
“In simple words, rather than spending a couple of years in attending coaching classes the medical graduates can serve the country as medical officers and be eligible for the protected seats in the process. This is a welcome move considering the fact that nearly 100,000 MBBS doctors or 15% of medical workforce in the country is under or non employed for first couple of years of their graduation,” he adds.
Those against the proposal include Dr Manish C Prabhakar, president, Indian Medical Association Young Doctors’ Wing. He says another reservation category is not required as a majority of the states already have 50% reservations for postgraduate seats for medical officers. If any state government allows reservation of 50% PG seats for medical officers, then only 50% remaining seats will be available to the medical graduates.
“It will be detrimental to all medical graduates in general and for unreserved category students, in particular,” Prabhakar adds.
Medicine is a subject which requires skills and knowledge. The government must focus on improving medical education infrastructure, strengthening medical education regulatory bodies, improving health infrastructure in rural areas, making hospitals more secure and safe for the doctors, increasing PG seats, the government is making rural posting mandatory, he says.