As many as 60 junior resident (JR) and senior resident (SR) doctors quit the prestigious Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) every year within a few months of joining their programme.
Data provided by PGIMER show that out of a total of 350 seats every year for junior residents spread over two sessions, one beginning in January and the other in July, 40 to 50 seats fall vacant because of doctors quitting within the first three months of the session, an attrition rate of about 12 to 14 per cent. Among senior residents the attrition is higher, at about 20 per cent, with up to 30 out of 150 quitting every year.
According to a senior PGI official, the vacant seats are then filled in the next academic session of the institute. “If the seats fall vacant in one of the sessions, we add the same number to the next session,” said the official.
The attrition increases the workload at the already short-staffed speciality hospital that caters to the entire northern region, with patients coming from as far away as the North-East, apart from the surrounding states.
“It might increase the workload on some people,” Dr Subhash Varma, dean PGI, told Chandigarh Newsline. “But, from time to time, we keep addressing such issues and arrange alternatives including providing some house jobs for a limited period.”
The PGI administration cites two reasons why doctors leave the five-decade-old institute for other opportunities.
“They either get the specialty of their choice at another institute or sometimes they get admissions closer to their hometown. For example, a student is interested in radio diagnosis and is allotted a different stream in PGI. After some time, the same students get the radio diagnosis seat in some other college, so he would definitely prefer that one,” Dr Varma said.
The PGI resident doctors add their own reasons to this.
“Getting a better specialty is one of the factors. But several other reasons are there which force a resident to prefer other option,” said Dr Seran Kumar Reddy, president, Association of Resident Doctors, PGI.
Each day, he said, the number of patients is increasing, but the number of residents at the institute is the same.
“Earlier the residents used to work for 10-12 hours a day and now the same person is working for 14-16 hours because of the huge rush,” Reddy told Chandigarh Newsline. “There are 1,400 residents and only 700 hostel rooms. When female residents don’t get hostel facility inside the campus for first six months, they have to look for an accommodation outside the hospital. So security also becomes a concern for them. These reasons also contribute to departures.”
Dr Savita Malhotra, former Dean PGI, accepts that there are not “adequate” facilities for resident doctors at PGI. But she insists that it was not the reason for leaving PGI.
“I accept the living facilities are not adequate at PGI. I always feel bad about it and when I was there, we tried to do everything that we could. But I am not sure how many people leave for the reason that they don’t have good facilities. PGI offers best teaching across the country,” she told Chandigarh Newsline.
Dr Varma doesn’t agree that lack of facilities forces residents to leave PGI. “It is a personal perception. There might be some people, who can’t adjust to the facilities here, but I think most of the people are used to the existing facilities here. If you have 15 per cent residents leaving, 85 per cent are staying back here,” he said.
The PGI’s faculty association believes that the administration can improve the infrastructure facilities for the resident doctors. “As a faculty, I think stress is there among the doctors. But at the same time, when they get a specialty of their liking at a different college, they prefer that option,” said Dr T D Yadav, president, PGI Faculty Association. “To prevent such situations, PGI could work to provide the best and improve the infrastructure, including food facility for the residents.”
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