CHENNAI: With hundreds of super speciality medical seats remaining vacant even after four rounds of counselling, the Medical Counselling Committee is all set to conduct a special mop-up round 2 where there will not be any cut-off mark as a one-time measure. This comes at a time when applicants for MBBS courses are increasing each passing year.
There are 4,685 super speciality seats in India, of which 748 are still vacant. Tamil Nadu has 369 seats, the highest in the country, but only 89 of the 150 applicants have taken admission; the rest will be surrendered for All India Quota.
There are vacant seats even in the case of PG courses. This year, 1,456 seats were vacant after NEET PG counselling. Tamil Nadu accounts for 73 of these vacancies. Applicants and selection committee officials cite various reasons, including lack of scope, inadequate seats in popular courses, in-service reservation, introduction of NEET-SS, problems in transfer or choice of service location, high amount of discontinuation fees and the stiff bond amount for service candidates.
The courses that are deemed to lack scope have many vacancies. “Some of these specialities can’t be practised in small towns or even suburbs because only very high speciality hospitals will offer that. Cardiology, nephrology, neurology, urology, gastroenterology and some surgical seats get occupied but endocrine surgery, cardiothoracic surgery and other specified streams are not being offered in many hospitals. It is difficult to take up these courses that offer no assurance for the future,” said Jayant Kumar, a cardiology super speciality student.
“We will see a decline in the number of qualified doctors because of the fall in the number of doctors choosing super speciality courses. This is not good for the public healthcare system in the State,” noted Dr S Perumal Pillai, president, Legal Coordination Committee for Government Doctors.
Low demand for specialities in small towns: Med students
Officials from the selection committee of the Directorate of Medical Education agreed that the low scope of certain specialities is one of the main reasons students don’t opt for them.
“Certain courses, including the non-clinical one, don’t have much demand in all the cities or towns. Also, some candidates don’t want to be posted after several years of experience or are unable to move because of personal commitments,” said Dr P Vasanthamani, former secretary of the committee.
Candidates also say that many non-service candidates are unable to utilise the State government seats in super-speciality courses, as they get seats in other States but not in Tamil Nadu.
“Being a non-service candidate, I got a seat only in a hospital in Delhi. So, I am preparing for another year to secure a seat in Tamil Nadu itself. Even though reserved seats are vacant, the government is not ready to give them to non-service candidates,” pointed out Dr Joshua Nithian, a non-service PG student.
Having to execute a bond to serve the government sector or pay up Rs 50 lakh is another issue that the aspirants cite.
“The doctors who complete super-speciality courses should be posted as assistant professors. But they’re posted in other departments like general surgery because of lack of vacancies. If they refuse, they will have to pay the bond amount. This also discourages aspirants,” said a member of the Non-Governmental Service Doctors’ Association.
But officials said the government and people have the right to expect the specialists to utilise skills they acquired during their training for the benefit of the sick, poor and needy. The bond is to ensure that the services of trained postgraduate doctors are available, they said.
When asked, Medical Education Director Dr Narayana Babu said the trends and preferred courses keep changing over the years.
“Students want to take courses that offer some scope as per the current trend of advancements. Because of concerns over legal issues, they want to ensure that courses they opt for don’t pose any risk to them in future,” he said.