Over 1,850 resident doctors across Gujarat will not be able to appear for their final year examinations before August 15, 2020, as the state government “cannot spare them from Covid-19 duty”, according to the health department.
In a letter dated May 25 to the Chairman of the Board of Governors in Supercession of Medical Council of India (MCI) and Niti Aayog member, Dr Vinod Kumar Paul, Additional Secretary, health and family welfare department, VG Vanzara, requested to conduct postgraduate examinations after August 15 on account of the prevailing situation of Covid-19 pandemic.
Resident doctors have been doing Covid duty across government-run hospitals, with several of them having contracted the infection already.
Confirming about the letter, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, Vanzara said, “The written communication was done following a telephonic conversation with the principal secretary health and family welfare department, Jayanti Ravi.”
According to sources, MCI has agreed to the suggestion over telephone, though a written confirmation is yet to be received. The communication was followed by several rounds of consultations and deliberations between deans and faculty members of various state universities.
The move by the state health department came after an MCI circular on May 22 to all states to conduct exams before June 30.
The Indian Express has learnt that the decision not to conduct exams in June or July was taken by the state government as the resident doctors are sharing the Covid workload and several of them have tested positive for the infection.
“Conducting exams is not possible since so many resident doctors have turned COVID-19 positive. Also, before exams, the residents need to be given at least 15 day preparatory leave, which the state government cannot afford at this point of time where they are involved in Covid duty at various hospitals…,” said a senior official of the health department on condition of anonymity.
Normally, the postgraduate exams for junior residents are held from April second half till May second week, at the end of their third year. These are the only exams that are conducted during the entire three-year postgraduation.
Another factor that has led to the delay in clearing junior residency for degree doctors is non-availability of cases for their clinicals. In addition to the four theory papers, the practical or clinical examinations are to be conducted on cases or patients — one major and two minor.
“The practicals cannot be conducted on Covid-19 patients, so we cannot help,” said a resident doctor while another at Civil Hospital Ahmedabad. When the junior residency is not completed, they cannot appear for senior residency, which is a one year specialisation for junior residents after clearing MD or MS course.
There are eight state and trust run universities and one deemed university in Gujarat offering MD and MS courses.