Supreme Court to hear plea seeking postponement of DNB Final Theory Exams
New Delhi: Pointing out the "unprecedented academic loss" due to their continuous work as frontline warriors during the COVID-19 pandemic, a bunch of doctors have moved to the Supreme Court demanding rescheduling of the DNB/DRNB final theory examination 2021.
The doctors have further referred to the pending NEET PG 2021 and PDCET 2021 counselling, and pointed out how this has resulted into acute shortage of resident doctors and has left the current residents overworked and underprepared to appear in the exam.
Thus, the doctors have further demanded that the examination schedule should be put on hold till post MBBS and Diploma candidates selected in terms of merit positions of the NEET PG 2021 and DNB PDCET 2021 join the affiliated colleges/ institutions.
It has been argued on behalf of the doctors, who are undergoing DNB training programme that even though it was the pandemic which messed up with the calendar of National Board of Examinations (NBE), now the students are paying the price as NBE is asking the doctors to appear for their final exam without any preparatory leave, "despite having 6 to 9 months of training tenure still left."
The doctors, who had secured admission in DNB courses in the DNB PDCET 2020 and NEET PG 2020, pointed out in their plea that, "Due to spread of covid pandemic the counseling dates were extended from time to time and admission process were completed by 30.09.2020. Immediately thereupon, the newly admitted medical post graduates were largely made to work in covid wards and ICU day and night because of rapid increase in cases."
Referring to how NBE compulsorily extended the tenure of candidates admitted in the year 2018 and 2019, by three months, the plea also pointed out how the e final theory examination scheduled in December, 2020 was rescheduled in March, 2021 and consequently, the results of the final theory examination was declared on 25.07.2021.
Further mentioning how the Formative Assessment Test, which usually is conducted at the end of first year of training, the plea stated that in case of the DNB candidates admitted in 2020, it was concluded within six months from the date of admission. After that, the deadline for thesis submission was extended by one month, till 30.10.2021.
In fact, owing to difficulties faced because of the covid 2019 pandemic and study loss, NBE had rescheduled the DNB/ DrNB final theory examination June 2021 batch to 24, 25, 26 and 27th August, 2021, mentioned the plea. Following this, "results of the DNB/ DrNB final theory examination June 2021 was begun to be published, only in 3 out of 29 subjects," the plea added.
Even though NBE changed its schedule in case of other batches due to COVID-19 pandemic, the same hasn't been done in case of petitioner doctors.
"That the Respondent No. 1 vide its extensions for the December 2020 and June 2021 batches acknowledged academic loss because of covid 2019 pandemic. However, in the case of the Petitioners and other qualified doctors eligible for appearing in the DNB/ DrNB final theory examination December, 2021; the Respondent No. 1 did not take into account the difficulties faced by them before publishing the schedule for DNB/ DrNB final theory examination for the December 2021," the plea stated.
"That it is evident from the fact that the Respondent No. 1 (the NBE) itself had to extend the timeline for course completion and final theory examination for the December, 2020 and June, 2021 batches, by three months. The online teaching programmes and academic training programme conducted virtually or offline during testing times were severely compromised as Petitioners and other DNB doctors had to serve for longer hours, in order to discharge covid duty in addition to the specialty specific duty," further pointed out the plea.
Thus, the doctors urged that similarly, the DNB final theory examination which is set to be conducted in December 2021, may also be rescheduled by three months to allow NBE "to complete admission of DNB doctors through NEET PG 2021 and PDCET 2021, allowing work distribution and enabling the petitioners and other DNB candidates to work as well as prepare for appearing in the DNB final theory examination since Respondent No. 1 (NBE) does not acknowledge or grant any preparatory leave for DNB doctors to prepare for exam, despite having 6 to 9 months of training tenure still left," added the plea.
The doctors have mentioned that even though they had qualified in January 2020, due to the pandemic, their admissions were concluded only by the end of September, 2020. And soon after the admission process was over, the petitioners along with other doctors had to join the COVID-19 workforce.
"The Respondent No. 1 (the NBE) conducted webinars as part of the teaching programme to enhance the knowledge and gain experiences but it failed to appreciate that even during conduct of webinars most of the doctors served their patients, both covid and specialty specific as enormous burden clocked on the healthcare system," pointed out the plea.
Seeking to postpone the examination scheduled for December 2021, the plea further added, "the Petitioners and several other DNB doctors were deprived acquiring skills and finding time for thesis and theory examination preparation. The extension in the schedule of examination as happened in the December 2020 and June 2021 batches, could afford an opportunity to the Petitioners and other DNB doctors, to acquire objective measures and train themselves properly for the examination. If such an extension is considered by this Hon'ble Court, no prejudice would be caused to the new batch getting admission based on NEET PG 2021 rank."
The petitioner doctors have urged the Supreme Court for the rescheduling of the exam on the following grounds.
1. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Petitioners, rendered their duties with full devotion as front line workers. As a result, their studies and training got hampered.
2. NBE itself extended the timeline for course completion and final theory examination for December 2020 and June 2021 batches by three months. Apart from that, the online training program was severely compromised since the petitioners and other DNB doctors had to serve longer hours and the conducting final theory exam in December 2021, when they still have 6 to 9 months of tenure left doesn't allow the doctors to prepare for the exam.
3. Even though NBE conducted webinars as part of the teaching programme to enhance the knowledge and gain experiences but it failed to appreciate that even during conduct of webinars most of the doctors served their patients, both covid and specialty specific as enormous burden clocked on the healthcare system.
4. The doctors were deprived of acquiring skills and finding time for thesis and theory examination preparation.
5. Due to legal complications regarding OBC and EWS reservation NEET PG 2021 and PDCET 2021 counseling have been put on hold.
6. As a result, institutes, where the Petitioners and other DNB doctors work, have not received junior batch of doctors, resultantly forcing the Petitioners and outgoing batch of doctors to discharge their duties too amidst discharging covid and specialty specific duties.
7. The petitioners have not claimed similar reliefs before any other court or Supreme Court.
Apart from the prayers for rescheduling of the exams and putting it on hold until the NEET PG and PDCET counseling process is over, the doctors under the umbrella of All India DNB Doctors Association (ADDA), are planning to approach NBEMS for timely declaration of results.