With just over six months left for the next academic session to begin, MBBS faculty members are concerned about the scarcity of time to complete the first-year syllabus for the incoming batch of students.
It is turning out to be a long wait for students who appeared for the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET-UG) 2021 as the National Testing Agency (NTA) has not announced results yet.
Dr Amit Gupta, professor, AIIMS Rishikesh, says that students are losing out on the precious time of their life as they sit idle waiting for the results.
“NEET aspirants have no idea about the result declaration. They are anxiously looking forward to knowing their fate as they invest several years into the preparations. Delayed results also mean that students will have lesser options to choose from at a later stage. The applications for most foreign universities are already closed for this session. They are not left with any alternative than waiting,” he said.
The six-month delay that students are facing due to coronavirus will not be compensated and it will be reflected in their medical education, says Dr Tejpal Singh, professor at the department of SN Medical College, Agra.
“Along with administrative and academic responsibilities, faculty in medical institutes also have to fulfil clinical duties. With coronavirus and dengue, doctors have been under a lot of work since last year. It is impossible to complete the first year syllabus in just six months and if we provide the required time, then the future exams and sessions are likely to be delayed. It is a double-edged sword for faculty members,” Dr Tejpal says.
Dr Satyendra Singh, professor of physiology at the University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, says that the batch of 2021 was supposed to join a couple of months ago but it seems unlikely that students will be able to finalise admissions before the end of November.
“In 2019, the National Medical Commission (NMC) came up with an ambitious competency-based curriculum, but we have not been able to implement it in our classrooms because of the perpetual delay. Policymakers did not consult the academics regarding the timeline of the exams and how it could impact institutes, faculty members,” he says.
Singh adds that the burden on faculty members is increasing and it will continue to be that way even as the batch of 2022 joins in. “If there is no delay next year, students will join courses by May. So, practically faculty members will have to focus on two batches that would be in the initial stages of their course. Physiology and anatomy are basics of MBBS where we cannot afford any compromises, otherwise, it would become difficult for students to keep up with the syllabus later,” he adds.
The only silver lining, says Dr Gupta, is that those who fail to clear the medical entrance exam this year and plan to take another shot at it will have to wait for a lesser duration. “If students decide to take NEET 2022, then they might have to wait for only another six months and their whole year would not be wasted,” he adds.
Students are also looking at other avenues due to the delayed NEET results. G Kishor, a 17-year old NEET aspirant from Andhra Pradesh, took the exam along with other state entrance exams. He managed to qualify the AP EAMCET 2021 and decided to go ahead with the counselling process instead of waiting.
“There was only one thing that went into my mind all the time – what if I don’t clear NEET? Then I would not have any options left. Hence, I decided to sit for state counselling and gave up on my dream of pursuing an MBBS. I will now be joining a biotechnology course,” says Kishor, who completed class 12 this year from Narayana High School in Vijaywada.
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