The National Medical Commission (NMC) has made the District Residency Programme (DRP), a three-month internship at a district hospital mandatory for all MD and MS students from this academic year. This is a first-of-its-kind initiative for NEET-PG students to work in rural setups and treat patients. While the NMC may be well intended, it needs exhaustive ground research by state medical councils before rolling out the internships.
A senior official from the Ministry of Health, on the condition of anonymity, says that the DRP will be advantageous on various levels. “While students will get trained to treat patients related to their specialisation in a rural backdrop, they will provide expert medical services in regions that are devoid of advanced medical facilities,” says the official.
Addressing seat specifications
The official adds, “State steering committees are being formed, which will need to do exhaustive research and define the number of PG students across state medical colleges and hospitals who will need the DRP. Since this is a teaching internship, the next step will be to figure out the number of positions available in various NEET-PG specialisations across district hospitals where these students can get adequate training in this three-month period.”
A national steering committee is also being set up to oversee the details being mapped out by the state steering committees. “The national steering committee will look at the details such as ensuring that all PG students get internships. The students can get internship in their state or in other states which has vacant seats” says the official.
Challenges for students
Dr Sanjay Kumar, member secretary of the state admission committee, Government of Haryana, says that a compulsory three-month internship will enhance the quality of medical facilities in rural areas. “However, a lot of work needs to be done at both the state and national level before these internships can be made mandatory,” he adds.
In addition to being a time-consuming task, state steering committees foresee various other challenges that need to be addressed. “Providing a DRP to all PG students in their preferred region may not be possible. Allocating them to internships in other states might be counterproductive as that will require knowledge of the local language. The students will have to understand the cultural difference that might eat up their academic time,” says Dr Kumar.
“State steering committees will also need to ensure that the departments where the MD, and MS students go for the DRP have qualified seniors to provide them with adequate training. In the absence of training, this will reduce to mere formality where students will spend three months and return without any educational benefits,” adds Dr Kumar. Further, accommodation and other facilities need to be ensured in the allocated regions for all NEET-PG students, especially female candidates before they can be sent for the internship, he says.
Source: Times of India