Graduates from the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programmes are a bitterly disappointed bunch as they have been preparing for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Postgraduate (NEET-PG) 2021 exam for a year now but the Central government announced it had been postponed to August 31, 2021, in view of the Covid situation. This is the second time the exam has been postponed.
On Monday, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) announced, “NEET-PG 2021 has been postponed for at least four months and the exam will not be held before August 31, 2021. Students will be given at least one month of time after announcement of exam before it is conducted. Medical interns will be deployed in Covid management duties under the supervision of their faculty, as part of the internship rotation.”
Further, the PMO stated, “The services of final year MBBS students can be utilised for providing tele-consultation and monitoring of mild Covid cases after due orientation by and under supervision of faculty. B.Sc./GNM Qualified Nurses may be utilised in full-time Covid nursing duties under the supervision of senior doctors and nurses. Medical personnel completing 100 days of Covid duty will be given the Prime Minister’s Distinguished Covid National Service Samman from the Government of India and priority in forthcoming government recruitments.”
Peeved at the Centre’s superficial promises, students said they are already on Covid duty, logging in as many as 60 hours a week on the job. They say they are already doing their duty regardless of papery tokenisms being held out by the government but would really like to get on with their career advancement examinations too.
Day in and day out, these students, also known as junior resident doctors, work in close contact with Covid patients, all the time being exposed to the risk of contracting the infection. So they find it strange that the government is citing Covid risk for these students when it comes to conducting NEET-PG, a key exam for their post-graduate studies.
Aman Gour, a junior resident doctor said, “We have completed our MBBS degrees for a reason. It is our professional duty to perform Covid-19 duties. We are already working in hospitals as our NEET-PG exam was postponed so, the Central government does not need to superficially show it will give us some National Service Samman or promise a government job if we fulfil Covid duties for 100 days. We do not want any ‘Sammaan’, we are already performing our duties regardless of these peripheral promises.”
Virti Sharma, another junior resident doctor said, “It is ironic to see that the government postponed NEET-PG exam in April for the safety of medical students. And now, suddenly, the Central government itself is pushing us to go perform Covid duties for a minimum of 100 days. Where has the concern for our safety vanished? We could have appeared for the three-and-a-half hour exam because anyway we are risking our lives and working in hospitals every day, monitoring Covid-19 patients.”