Common PG medical Counselling: What NMC guidelines say and why doctors are opposing it
New Delhi: There will now be common counselling for PG medical admissions across the country which will be held by Centre, the recently released draft of "The Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations, 2021" by the National Medical Commission (NMC) has stated.
The move has, however, met opposition from many in the medical fraternity as well as respective states who have stated that the move will undermine the role of states in the PG medical admission process and would negatively affect the healthcare system of the country as healthcare is still a state subject.
Medical Dialogues had recently reported that in an attempt to standardize Post-graduate medical education in the country, the NMC released the draft regulations clearly specifying that NExT would be the gateway to PG medical admissions including those at AIIMS, PGI Chandigarh and other Institutes of National Importance (INI).
The guidelines specify common counselling for PG medical courses which will be conducted wholly and solely by MCC, DGHS. Earlier, the counselling was done to the AIQ 50 per cent by MCC, DGHS and 35 per cent govt, 15 NRI/management quota medical seats by the states.
DGHS to hold Common Counselling for PG medical admissions
Section 11 of the Draft Regulations describes the concept of Common Counseling for PG medical admissions. It states that the Directorate General of Health Services, operative under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare would be the responsible authority for the counselling of all the seats of PG medical admissions. With this, all the States would possibly lose their control over the 50% State Quota seats and these seats would also be controlled by DGHS instead.
Section 11.1 clearly mentions:
"There shall be a common counseling for admission in all Medical Educational Institutions to all Postgraduate Broad -Specialty courses (Diploma/ MD/ MS) on the basis of merit list of the National Exit Test and to all Postgraduate SuperSpecialty courses (DM/MCh) on the basis of merit list of the National Eligibilitycum-Entrance Test."
It clearly indicates the fact that after the implementation of NExT examination, there would be no INI-CET exam, and the admission to AIIMS would also be regulated by the "Common Counseling" process as proposed by NMC, the Apex medical education regulatory body.
"The Designated Authority for counselling for all the postgraduate broad specialty seats in the country for eligible institutions under the National Medical Commission (both the 50% All India Quota seats of the contributing States and the 50% State Quota seats including all applicable reservations) shall be the Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India," states the Section 11.2 of the Draft.
Further, Section 11.3 mentions:
"The Designated Authority for counselling for all the Postgraduate SuperSpecialty seats in the country for eligible institutions under the National Medical Commission shall be the Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India "
The guidelines also specify the timeline for PG medical admission in the country.
The common counselling point has met objection from the Indian Medical Association (IMA) as well as several states who are seeing this as undermining the roles of States which might result in their lessened interest in the subject and this might ultimately affect the overall PG medical education.
Speaking to Medical Dialogues regarding the matter, Dr. J A Jayalal, President of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) said, "We are totally opposing the new NMC guidelines. Earlier, 50% states were reserved for the States and now these seats would be controlled by the Centre. It will affect the public health system prevailing in each state. Even after running a medical college, paying the staff their salaries, and maintaining the institute, what interest would the States have if they have no control over the admission process? They will stop maintaining the institutes, and would lose interest in getting NMC recognition as well."
Language barrier is another major issue as pointed out by IMA. Discussing the matter in detail, Dr. Jayalal said, "Coming to another state to pursue medical education would be difficult for a student as the student would have to always face the barriers of language and social custom. Also, if the students are studying in their own state, they would be naturally empathetic and compassionate towards the people of the locality. However, this won't happen if they are studying in a different state it would be difficult for them to develop the same kind of empathy for people.
This is one of the major problems that the healthcare system is facing- the lack of community connection, which could only get developed if the students are studying in their respective states."
Tamil Nadu Government has also opposed this move and in a letter to Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandavia, Stalin said, "The draft regulations intend to undermine the role of States in Post Graduate Medical Education, since their role in the admission of students under their own State quota is sought to be unilaterally removed."
"The Union Government and the National Medical Council need to appreciate the fact that it is only the States which have heavily invested their own resources to create most of the PG seats," added the letter objecting to centralization of State's powers.