Lack of opportunities in terms of jobs and financial stability in certain pre and para medical specialisations causes disinterest among students, leading to the vacant seats. The Ministry of Health is taking proactive steps to bring these seats under the ambit of ‘clinical’ so that post completion of the degree, students become job ready.
Clinical streams remain the favourite among NEET PG aspirants while certain pre and para-medical streams like Pharmacology, Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, and Microbiology are not preferred, says Dr Abhinav Arun Sonkar, professor and head of surgery, King George’s Medical University (KGMU), Lucknow. “These streams offer the opportunity only to become a faculty member or get into research. Unfortunately, both of these have lost their charm today,” he says.
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Exhaustion of available faculty posts across government and private medical colleges, along with limited financial growth in these profiles has affected students’ outlook towards them, he adds.
Dr Sharath Rao, dean, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal, says, “Around five years ago, we had close to 130 PG seats, of which around 20 seats in certain specialisations remained vacant. Today, the overall number of seats has increased to 223, but the same number of seats in the same streams are still vacant. Thus, there is need to alter the demand and supply ratio to bring about a change.”
Dr B Srinivas, ADG (medical education), Ministry of Health, says that in addition to pre and para medical PG seats in Pathology, Anatomy, Forensic Medicine, Preventive and Social Medicine, among others, certain courses that offer students a diploma also do not get many takers. “To make the less favourite PG seats more attractive, a clinical component needs to be attached to them so that they are no longer classified as pre or para medical seats but come under the ambit of clinical seats,” says Dr Srinivas. The government and National Medical Commission (NMC) are taking proactive steps in this direction and hopefully a change will be seen in the next couple of years, he adds.
Educators offer few other solutions to the issue as well. Dr Rao says, “The NMC has rules regarding the minimum faculty requirement at any medical institution. The desirable faculty number is 20% more than this number while the aspirational faculty number is 30% more than the minimum requirement. In pre and para medical fields, a possible change can be to bring the minimum faculty number and desirable number at par so that the overall faculty positions in these streams can be increased by around 20-25%.” This will automatically affect students’ interest in them.
Another step can be to popularise the MD PhD programme in these specialisations, adds Dr Rao, wherein after completing the PG, students have a 2-year job confirmation as a PhD scholar. “This will add to the attractiveness of these streams, while students will be better qualified to become teachers and researchers once the course is complete as they will be PhDs in their chosen streams,” he says.