Updated: May 18, 2021 7:12:57 pm
“We’re worried. We’re scared. Why, you ask. We’re not scared of the exams. We’re scared for our life, our health and the lives of those around us. #muhsonlineexams #muhs,” tweeted Alisha Shaikh, a second-year medical student of Pune last week. Similar tweets by medical students are making the rounds to voice their concerns regarding offline examination for second and third year MBBS students under Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS). The exams are scheduled to begin from June 2.
“Considering the current scenario of increasing cases and unavailability of vaccines for students, there is a lot of fear and panic regarding offline exams. Additionally, we are constantly checking notifications and news to get some clarification. Earlier, the postponement happened just three days ago before the actual exam. This uncertainty is taking a toll on us, with many of the students and their families already battling the deadly virus,” Shaikh said.
Aditya Thorat, a third-year medical student from Ambajogai, said as the state was in lockdown till the end of the month, transit to respective colleges will not only be difficult but also expose them to the virus. “While distancing can be ensured in the exam hall, within the college campus and hostel rooms we have shared spaces such as restrooms and mess with resident doctors and interns currently on Covid duty. Maintaining distance will be a challenge here.”
A survey was conducted by student representatives of Association of State Medical Students Maharashtra — an undergraduate wing — which showed that students from private and government colleges either want an online examination or promotion on the basis of internal assessment.
“According to the data we received from answers from 4,000 students from 45 colleges, most are demanding for either an online exam or promotion. The controller of examinations of MUHS said since the university is under guidelines of National Medical Commission (NMC), they cannot hold online exams or promote. However, the current situation is not favourable to conduct exams offline,” said Atharva Shinde, regional representative of Vidarbha region and a second-year student of a medical college in Nagpur.
Shinde said most medical colleges, including his own, were overwhelmed with the number of patients. “A hospital will follow all necessary precautions, but there is still the possibility of contracting the virus as several seniors and interns have tested positive in the past. Most of us have not been vaccinated and are waiting for slots for older family members. So, if a student gets infected, they either have to appear for the exam in isolation or after six months, which is the supplementary. The student, meanwhile, cannot be promoted to the next class.”
Saurav Yadav, a third-year student of a medical college in Chandrapur, said 15 per cent students like him resided outside Maharashtra and if students reached the campus, there was no way of knowing who was infected. “I live in Delhi and it is not feasible as there are some containment zones here with strict restrictions, for which you need paperwork. The communicability of the new variant is so much that people are reluctant to travel by air and the next best option is train, which has a travel time of 22 hours. If you find yourself with symptoms and develop complications, there will not be much to do. The patient will be on their own.”
Commenting on the arguments made against conducting online examinations, Krishna Zanwar, a third-year MBBS student in Jalgaon, said many colleges conducted their internal assessment online where they had to upload scanned copies of their answers for evaluation. “Engineering and other courses have already conducted their final exams using software readily available. As far as medical colleges are concerned, this option has not been explored as they say online mode will create leniency.”
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