The National Medical Commission (NMC) has announced that the duties performed by the medical interns, who are working to manage the COVID- 19 crisis, will be considered as compulsory internships. This decision has been taken after the PM meeting held on 2nd May 2021.
According to the decision, the medical interns will be grouped in different departments for varied durations. Initially, they will perform duties for two months in general medicine (including psychiatry); then 15 days in emergency or casualty, and finally, they will perform duties for two months in community medicine.
Note: The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Postgraduate (NEET PG-2021) has been postponed by another 4 months due to the second wave of COVID-19 in the country. The exam will not be held before 31st August 2021. The authorities have assured that the students will be notified about the NEET PG 2021 exam date at least one month before the examination is conducted.
Amid the rise of COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed various measures to augment the medical personnel for the management of medical facilities in the country. According to the Prime Minister Office (PMO), many necessary decisions were taken to significantly boost the availability of medical staff in COVID-duty.
The review meeting was held due to the rising number of COVID cases, the shortage of medical staff, and the strained testing facilities.
COVID Internship for Medical Students and Other Key Decisions by the PMO
- A government press release stated – “A decision was taken to postpone NEET-PG for at least 4 months and the exam will not be held before 31st August 2021. Students will also be given at least one month of time after the announcement of the exam before it is conducted. This will make a large number of qualified doctors available for Covid duties”.
- Final year MBBS students (broad as well as super-specialities) will be deployed under the supervision of faculty for teleconsultation and monitoring of patients with mild COVID symptoms.
- Medical staff members who have completed a minimum of 100 days of COVID duty will be prioritized in future government recruitments. Also, they will be given “Prime Minister’s Distinguished Covid National Service Samman”.
- B.Sc./GNM (General Nursing and Midwifery) qualified nurses will be utilised as full-time nursing staff under the supervision of senior doctors and nurses.
- The medical students/professionals sought to be engaged in Covid related work will be suitably vaccinated. All health professionals thus engaged will be covered under the insurance scheme of the government for health workers engaged in fighting COVID-19.
Arguments Against and In Favour of COVID Internships for Medical Students
Much of the medical staff is in favor of appointing MBBS students for the COVID duty. According to them, students who have finished their training in various institutions across the country can be considered as an additional help to work in COVID ICUs for a year.
However, others who are against it are of the opinion that it will just increase the burden for existing doctors. The doctor fraternity is suffering burnouts, mental fatigue, while being exposed to the continuous risk of getting infected. Under such circumstances, managing their own duties and supervising the interns will just add up to the stress.