Save the Doctor

Who Knew?
Charite Hospital Hosts Annual Teddy Bear Clinic
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 08: Medical student Marie Beer helps a visiting child to diagnose the child's teddy piglet at the Teddy Bear Clinic at Charite Hospital on May 8, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. Charite Hospital hosts the annual Teddy Bear Clinic days and invites children from Berlin day care centers to bring their injured teddy bears for fictitious examinations, x-rays, surgery and healing as a way for small children to become acquainted with a medical environment. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

In India, 40,000 medical students graduate every year. However, in order to gain specialization before employment, they must compete for a mere 12,000 available post-graduate seats. This means that instead of going out into the field and meeting the huge dearth of healthcare professionals required in the country, a large chunk of graduates stay at home for a year or more to meet the stiff competition at entrance exams. They are unable to earn or provide desperately-needed medical services in the country, and depend on their parents to sustain them through their period of unemployment. A substantial proportion of these students also move out of the country to obtain specialization, contributing to the 'brain drain' of medical resources in India.

"Since huge numbers of doctors are studying at home, there is severe shortage of specialists in India. No other course takes so long to establish which includes studies, training plus waiting time. So the only solution is to increase the PG seats on par with UG seats," says Dr. Alexander Thomas, VP, AHPI, voicing concern that as senior doctors in the country retire, there will be a severe shortage of specialist doctors and surgeons to take their place.

The nation-wide movement 'Save the Doctor' launched collaboratively by medical students' representatives, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Association of Healthcare Providers India (AHPI) aims at influencing policy makers and medical institutions to increase the number of seats available for post-graduate specialization in the country.

To provide some perspective, here are some figures from the USA:
Undergraduate medical seats available: 19,000
Post-graduate seats available: 32,000.
In India, undergraduate medical seats available: 45,600
Number of graduates every year: approximately 40,000
PG seats available: 12,000 (actual figures are 22,000 but only 12,000 of these are clinical subjects of interest)

Dr. Devi Shetty, well-known heart surgeon and Treasurer of AHPI commented: "It is a sad plight that nearly two lakh young doctors in our country, at the peak of their youth, spend quite a few years in coaching classes mugging multiple choice questions rather than treating patients and learning the art of healing. These doctors, under the right circumstances, can significantly improve the quality of healthcare."

In a country where every ten minutes a woman dies giving birth and child mortality rates are highest in the world, this is a campaign that deserves fullest support. For more details, visit the site, share with your friends and be part of the movement.