PG medical students to mandatorily have 3-month rural stint to strengthen grassroots healthcare – Times of India

Specialist doctors need not be a rarity in the rural sector going by the recent mandate that makes it compulsory for postgraduate medical students pursuing MD/MS to undergo a compulsory 3-month stint at district hospitals. This is the new directive which will be followed in the curriculum starting from 2020-21 session.

The district residency programme for PG students has been introduced under the new medical education regulations. As part of their 3-year PG programme, students will be posted in a district hospital in their third, fourth or fifth semester as a ‘district resident’, the government gazette notification said.

“The recent mandate was never a part of the PG medical programme except for students of Community Medicine. This is unlike the MBBS course where students have to undergo the mandatory rural and community specialist postings in their third year,” Dr Vinod K Paul, chairman, Medical Council of India (MCI) and NITI Aayog member tells
Education Times.

The stint will give the future specialists exposure to the district hospitals thereby learning about the needs of the grassroots. “The speciality residents (PG students) will strengthen the services at the district hospitals as they work with a team led by local specialists,” Dr Pal adds. Highlighting that there are close to 38,000 PG students across the country and around 1300 district hospitals, the recent mandate, if systematically planned, will ensure continuous availability of around 6-8 resident specialist doctors in each district hospital and around 9,000 PG doctors serving in the villages at any given time.

Though the norm was developed in 2019 and approved by the Central Council for Health & Family Welfare for further implementation, it will be even more useful in times of the Coronavirus where the shortage of specialist doctors and frontline healthcare professionals are acute.

“The 3-month stint is part of a long-term planning to provide training at ground level and expose the residents to common day to day clinical situations. Since the spectrum of clinical problems is different at the district level in comparison to medical colleges, PG students will be exposed to a wide range of clinical settings,” says Dr Sudhir Kumar Jain, director professor, Surgery, and head consultant laparoscopic, general and urological surgeon, Maulana Azad Medical College.

The candidates undergoing the training will have to demonstrate satisfactory completion of their residency programme since it will be a key pre-requisite for them to appear in the final exam of their respective PG course. “There may not be marks to assess the students but a logbook-based completion system as seen with rural internship for MBBS,” says Dr Aqsa Shaikh, associate professor, Department of Community Medicine, Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Jamia Hamdard.

The onus of allotting the students to the district hospitals will rest with the state government and it will be based on needs mapping and a transparent system for equitable distribution of medical human resource.

“While the three months programme is unlikely to be a magical wand, it will help meet the deficiencies in General Medicine, General Surgery, Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Paediatrics, Anaesthesia in the rural sector to some extent. PG students will also learn to manage with limited resources as part of their ground level training,” Dr Shaikh informs.

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