NEET PG 2022 which had been originally scheduled for March 12 has now been postponed by six to eight weeks. Doctors had been protesting for months for the conduction of NEET counselling. Meanwhile, the issue of the EWS reservation quota in the medical seats was also a concern.
Now, NEET PG 2022 has been postponed to May 21 while NEET counselling began on January 27 for the earlier batch. Here’s why the NEET counselling and NEET PG 2022 were delayed and how it affects India’s healthcare system.
Why Were Doctors Protesting Against the NEET Counselling Delay?
Medical students need to appear for NEET PG if they are planning to specialize in subjects such as surgery, general medicine, or gynecology after completing their MBBS. NEET PG usually takes place in January but the Covid-19 pandemic caused continuous delays after which the exam was conducted in September 2021 last year.
The NEET counselling process is supposed to begin immediately after the exam so students can choose their stream and college. This process was delayed as well because of pending cases in Supreme Court regarding the reservation quota in medical seats for the economically weaker sections (EWS).
Due to the delay in both the NEET PG exam and the NEET PG counselling, medical students couldn’t start off their college courses. This resulted in a one-third short-fall of doctors across India leading to country-wide protests.
This is because while the senior medical students in the colleges were moving on to join jobs as senior residents, the fresh batch of PG medical students who are supposed to work as junior doctors in the hospitals associated with their respective colleges for training purposes was still unable to join.
Why was NEET PG 2022 Delayed?
Doctors who have completed their MBBS usually appear for NEET PG two or three times to get a seat for PG admissions. India has around 45,000 PG medical seats but more than 1.5 lakh candidate apply for them each year. This means that many ends up not being able to secure a college or stream of their choice.
So, if NEET PG 2022 was held on March 12, and the counselling for the September 2021 exam was not completed by that time, many wouldn’t be able to appear for the exam.
Moreover, after completing their MBBS, doctors need to complete a one-year internship before they can appear for NEET counselling. Due to the postponement of the final exams in many universities, those interns wouldn’t be able to complete their internship till around May-June 2022.
This is why NEET PG 2022 was delayed by six to eight weeks to May 21, 2022. The first round of the state NEET counselling process began on January 27 after Supreme Court gave a decision on the quota issue.
How the delay in NEET Counselling and NEET PG Exams will Affect the Healthcare System
“The year 2021 will go down as the only year in Indian history when no PG medical admissions have been completed since the counselling was put on hold,” says Dr. Nachiket Bhatia, CEO of DBMCI.
“Due to the Covid pandemic, the NEET PG entrance exam which is usually held in January was finally held on September 11, 21 and the results were declared in October,” he adds.
The delay in PG counselling has resulted in a shortage of 42,000 resident doctors in the country at a time when the healthcare system is under severe pressure as they brace themselves for the third wave of the Corona pandemic.Dr. Nachiket Bhatia.
The delay in both the NEET counselling and the NEET PG exams affects the healthcare system of India by causing a doctor shortage.
“From the students’ perspectives, the NEET counselling decides the next steps for their medical careers. Even the slightest delay leaves them undecided between their specialization of choice or the next best alternatives,” explains Gerald Jaideep, CEO, Medvarsity.
The delay in the counselling period and in NEET PG 2022 makes many doctors put their careers on hold.
“Therefore, our healthcare infrastructure has fewer specialists to address the growing demands of the healthcare burden in India,” he says.
There is also a case of added burden in medical colleges due to these delays.
This undue delay first on account of the pandemic and now on account of the quota dispute has resulted in a unique situation where the next batch of MBBS students will take their NEET PG in March 2022,
Dr. Nachiket Bhatia.
“This means that within three months of each other two batches of PG students i.e around 90,000 students will be in the system. This is going to add tremendous pressure on the teaching faculty who are already dealing with a 1:3 instead of a 1:2 ratio,” he says.
Thus, he says that this would be a tough year for medical students and doctors as both batches would try and cope with the pressures of the residency, the third wave of the pandemic, and the academic pressure of keeping up with their studies.
There are already several reports of mental trauma, depression, stress, and burnout being faced by resident doctors. It remains to be seen how this challenge of managing two academic batches so close to each other will be managed by the medical education system,Dr. Nachiket Bhatia.
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