MBBS doctors aspiring to pursue post-graduation will now have to compulsorily undertake a one-year rural posting before becoming eligible for such a course. In a major decision aimed at improving rural healthcare in India, the Government has decided to make it mandatory for all MBBS doctors to undergo one year rural posting to sit for post-graduation entrance examination. Highly placed sources in the Health Ministry told a news agency that Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad cleared a proposal in this regard and the Medical Council of India (MCI) is in the process of issuing a notification.
The decision will be applicable from the next academic session (2014-15) and all MBBS graduates seeking a post- graduate degree in medicine or surgery would have to work for one year in a village before they can take the PG entrance examination. The decision came after two years of deliberations, as the earlier proposal of increasing the duration of the MBBS course to include a rural posting for doctors was scuttled after stiff opposition. Doctors are unwilling to work in rural areas leading to people queuing up in city hospitals.
The Health Ministry and the country’s medical education regulator (MCI) has been toying with the idea of compulsory rural posting for doctors for quite some time to help improve medical facilities in the rural hinterland of the country. MCI sources said the posting would have to be located at any primary health centre run by the Government. “Those candidates who do not want to do a rural posting would be free to practice MBBS after they get their MBBS degrees following the internship. The MBBS course structure and duration will remain the same.
The only change is one year rural posting will be made the eligibility condition for those wanting to pursue MD and MS,” MCI sources said. Earlier, there was a proposal to increase the current duration of the MBBS course by one year and use the additional year for a village posting of MBBS students. The proposal was not found feasible as it meant that students would only get provisional MBBS degrees at the completion of their internship and final MBBS degrees only after the completion of a rural posting.
In between, they would not be allowed to practice medicine as they would not get a licence without their degree. The old proposal has now been modified considerably to allow the MBBS structure to remain unaltered and add a year of rural posting as a condition only for those candidates who want to take a PG in medicine or surgery. Every year, close to 40,000 students graduate with MBBS and most of them wish to pursue post graduation.
The move, skeptics say, may hit students’ zeal to go in for higher medical education unless suitably modified to reward them for undertaking a rural posting. MCI sources said MBBS doctors going for rural posting from the next year may be given financial incentives but that component of the proposal is yet to be finalised. Sources said they may be inducted into the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and a quantum stipend paid to them for such rural postings.