Visakhapatnam: The National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) should not just remain as a gateway to MBBS/BDS courses but should also be extended for those medicos opting for post graduation and super-specialty courses too, suggest senior doctors. They pointed out that introduction of NEET at all levels of medical education – UG, PG and super-specialty – would help rein in malpractices by private medical colleges including sale of seats and also raise the falling standards of medical education.
Doctors state that while sale of each MBBS seat run into lakhs of rupees depending on the demand and individual private college concerned, PG and super-specialty seats are at times sold for Rs 1 or 2 crore apiece. The meritorious students most of who can’t afford such exorbitant rates lose out while the moneyed students who may not be deserving purchase the PG seats under management quota. Also, such post graduate doctors aim to earn back the money spent on their education in the private institute rather than serving the people, said the senior docs.
Dr B Ramakrishna, an ENT specialist with King George Hospital, said, “If NEET is extended to PG and super-specialty level, we can expect the same country-wide uniformity in syllabus and entrance exam for PG courses too. This would be convenient for the meritorious students and provide them enormous financial relief. Not many can afford to buy a PG seat in a private medical college by offering around a crore or more. Those who purchase the seat are more keen on getting back the money as soon as possible through their private practice or by working in some corporate hospital. They inevitably lack the social responsibility to serve the poor. NEET is needed to raise the standard of medical education in the country at all levels.”
Dr G Arjuna, surgeon and assistant professor at Andhra Medical College (AMC), too preferred the extension of NEET for all medical entrance exams right from UG to super-specialty as it will benefit a lot of people – students, parents and the medical faculty. “Students will have a chance to opt for any medical institute in India by just writing one entrance examination. This will ensure uniform syllabus, examination and evaluation pattern, thereby ensuring accountability and transparency in the highly professional course. The terrible burden that students and parents are subjected to by private medical colleges due to their lucrative business of selling medical seats ranging from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 1 crore will be curbed. The standard of faculty will also improve as they would have to compete on an all-India basis instead of just being confined to teaching for the state syllabus. However, whether it’s NEET or not, private coaching centres would flourish,” averred Dr Arjuna.
Besides, introducing uniformity and standardisation of medical education, if admissions to PG courses take place through NEET, certain malpractices by private medical colleges like conversion of convener quota seats into management quota can be prevented. Giving an example, Dr PV Sudhakar, head of the department of plastic surgery at KGH, explained, “Suppose there are four seats in Radiology (two in convener and two in management quota), some institutes resort to forcing the financially sober students to give up their convener quota seats just a day before the closure of the admission process by asking for several lakhs of rupees as course fees. When the student leaves the seat, the private institute converts this vacant convener quota seat into management quota and then sells it to someone who can afford to pay Rs 25-30 lakh. But if entrance to PG is through NEET, rules would be such that there won’t be any scope for conversion of seats into management quota. If any regular candidate leaves the seat last moment, it would go vacant.”
So, according to the senior doctors, for an overall change in the medical education system, NEET should be extended to PG and superspecialty levels.