New Delhi: In 2020, the NMC passed an order that in-service doctors with a specified number of years in rural service will be given an incentive of 10-30% marks in the NEET PG exam. To initiate this, several states have converted this incentive of marks to a certain reservation in state quota seats for in-service doctors with a pre-decided minimum duration of rural service. Experts say that this reservation is in favour of in-service doctors but could be disadvantageous for general NEET PG.
Various routes opted by states
Dr Sanjay Teotia, joint director, medical and health, Lucknow, says, “MBBS students who are unable to get adequate marks in NEET PG choose the state services route. In Uttar Pradesh (UP), MBBS students must go through five years of state medical services, including a minimum of three years of rural service for them to become eligible for the state-specific reservation.” UP follows the original guidelines of NMC and provides eligible candidates with an incentive of 20% marks over their NEET PG scores, he adds.
Dr Sanjay Kumar, member secretary of the state admission committee, Government of Haryana, says that the state currently has 40% of reservations for eligible in-service doctors. Maharashtra has recently joined this group by offering 20% reservation for in-service doctors.
Puducherry does not offer any reservations for in-service doctors, says Dr Z Zayapragassarazan, professor and head, Department of Medical Education, JIPMER, Puducherry. “We value the services provided by in-service doctors and agree that they deserve consideration. However, there is no research on how this step affects general students. Each state needs to make the reasons behind their respective policy public to remove any ambiguity.”
A senior official from the Ministry of Health, on the condition of anonymity, says, “All India Quota for NEET PG admission is based on merit. The reservation for in-service doctors is only for state quota seats. The intention behind this reservation is noble, as it encourages more MBBS students to practice in rural areas, which are currently suffering in terms of available medical services.” However, there are doubts about the sincerity with which doctors perform their rural service, as many take this route only to become eligible for the reservation, adds the official.
To ensure that in-service candidates continue to serve as government doctors after they avail the reservation, UP asks candidates to sign a ten-year bond. “These specialised doctors must serve for ten years with the state government medical services. This ensures that the state’s rural medical services are benefitted through the reservation,” adds Dr Teotia.
However, general candidates for NEET PG are suffering in terms of the limited number of seats that are available to them after these added reservations. For example, in Haryana, after removing the in-service reservation, along with the other constitutional reservations, general category candidates are left with minimal seats.
“Candidates who are eligible for the in-service reservation have two routes to qualify NEET PG. In addition to applying under the reservation, they are also eligible for general category seats. This further reduces the number of seats available for general category candidates,” says Dr Kumar.