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Tamil Nadu is facing a serious shortage of medical specialists, particularly surgeons. The situation may not improve as many postgraduate doctors are not willing to be trained to become specialists. Nearly half the number of superspecialty seats in cardiac surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery and plastic surgery are vacant in government medical colleges. Twelve of the 77 non-surgical seats (DM) and 54 of the 112 surgical seats (MCH) are vacant. This includes more than 80% of seats in cardiac surgery and 50% in neurosurgery and vascular surgery. The deadline for admissions is 30th September, but the seats may not be taken as there is none left from the merit list. Two years ago, the state government fought hard with the Centre to increase the number of superspecialty seats in the state. The Vascular Society of India had said that 80% of limb amputations could be avoided if there were specially trained surgeons.
"We just don't have enough specialists in the country," said vascular surgeon Dr. N Sekar. Chennai has less than 30 vascular surgeons and other districts have less than 35. After MBBS, doctors do a post-graduation in a surgical or a non-surgical stream. In the three-year surgical course (MS) they have five options - general surgery, orthopedics, ophthalmic, ENT or obstetrics and gynecology. Students who choose general surgery will have to do another three year course to specialise in pediatric surgery, urology or surgical gastroenterology. "Most postgraduates have a job and a decent practice. They feel there is no need to study further," said a senior doctor. Students say one of the biggest reasons for the decline is the government bond. The government insists that student's pay 25 lakh as fine if they don't serve in government hospitals for five years. Last year it was 5 lakh and three years. "By the time I finish specialty, I will be 30. Why should I serve in a government hospital in an unknown village when we can earn better in a city? A large percentage of seats have been reserved for in-service candidates. This rules should be applicable to them," said a student. Administrators say the bond is because the government subsidises fee for these candidates. "Students pay less than 1 lakh for these courses against a few crores they pay in private colleges," said Madras Medical College dean Dr. V Kanakasabai. Senior academicians say young doctors now specialize not out of interest, but for better prospects. "Earlier cardiac surgery and anesthesiology were sought after. Today, 3rd August, 2012, it is radiology, because they feel there is less work and more money," said Dr. R Surendran, former head of surgical gastroenterology, Government Stanley Medical College Hospital.
Courtesy: Times of India
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