Don’t push us, incentivise rural work, say MBBS students
A month ago, the Medical Council of India (MCI) made it mandatory for all MBBS graduates to take up one year of rural service. MBBS students here gave a host of reasons why they are not eager to embrace the idea.
Medical students agreed with the experience of Nafisa, who studied MBBS in Hassan Institute of Medical Sciences (HIMS), Hassan, and took up rural work for one year in Kaniyur, Belthangady. She found the work satisfying and an “okay” salary.
But the work load was heavy; and transport was a big problem to the primary health centre (PHC) where she worked and safety was a concern during field visits. She said, “We can’t go alone. That is the main problem for women.” Due to lack of staff at the PHC (they would go for field work to deal with pregnancy, malaria and dengue cases), she had to do their work. Except basic investigation, there was no other facility available, so she had to refer patients to taluk or district hospitals. “Patient can’t afford and there is no transport. We feel helpless sometimes,” she said.
A doctor, who did not wish to be named, said he was paid Rs. 65,000 per month in a city hospital, and his doctor friends in international organisations were paid in lakhs (the salary is in dollars). He said, “After studying for 10 years, why should I work for half my salary in a rural area with no life? Let the government incentivise rural medical service.”
A final year medical student in Mangalore said that the government should send post-graduates to rural areas because MBBS doctors could do nothing without senior doctors and facilities.
The majority of doctors would opt out of rural service by paying the penalty, which, she said, is “a political moneymaking thing”. Two, the government should inform students, who are about to start the MBBS course. Telling students in the last year of MBBS about compulsory rural work is unjust. “Six and a half years, why study MBBS. At least, if we are told early, we can be mentally prepared,” she said.
Doctors will willingly work if they get good incentives such as academic credits, said Sudhir Prabhu H., Assistant Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Father Muller Medical College.
B. Unnikrishnan, Professor and Head of Community Medicine, Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Manipal University, Mangalore, said the government should provide proper facilities to ensure a decent quality of life including accommodation, besides credits in PG level. “With no medicines and no support staff, no manpower, no diagnostics, how can doctors work in rural areas?” he said.
R.P. Pai, Professor and Head of Community Medicine, Yenepoya Medical College, said, “Anything that is compulsory, that is forced on people — they will find a way to beat the system.” He said Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Wardha, has been very successful with rural service as they give priority to graduates with rural stint in PG seats.