The Kerala government has decided to not extend the compulsory internship of the 2015 batch of MBBS students in the state beyond the one-year period, after the latter protested on social media. This comes after a meeting with the Kerala House Surgeons Association or KHSA, after which the government decided to give permanent registration to house surgeons who have completed their mandatory one year of internship. They will now be appointed to non-academic Junior Resident (JR) posts with the prescribed salary.
An order to this effect was issued to all Government Medical Colleges after a high-level meeting with the Chief Minister and the Director of Medical Education (DME). The DME also requested that the postings be announced after consulting with the KHSA officials and government medical college principals after factoring in the duty hours prescribed for the Junior Resident post, the working pattern of each college, as well as the number of house surgeons each college has.
As part of their course, all MBBS students are to undergo one year of compulsory internship where they work as house surgeons. This is called the Compulsory Rotatory Residential Internship and is part of their 5.5-year course.
However, the state government had considered extending the tenure for the 2015 MBBS students whose internship had begun from April 14, 2020, by three more months. This was because they expected a shortage of house surgeons in the stateâ€™s medical colleges, as the 2016 MBBS students are yet to write their exams, which had been postponed along with other university exams last year.
In the meeting on Saturday, the government also assured that the final year exam of the 2016 batch MBBS students will be conducted on time. Students of the new batch can become house surgeons and take up the compulsory internship only after finishing their final exam.
â€œWe started the house surgeoncy programme when COVID-19 hit the country. Apart from regular postings, we did additional COVID-19 duties too. For hours, we worked inside PPE kits. We did 48 to 72 hours of duty. We also worked in fever clinics and COVID-19 ICUs. All these showed our social responsibility as there were no economic or academic benefits for us from these COVID-19 duties," Nibu John, a house surgeon in Kottayam Medical College, had written on his Facebook page.
The final exams for the 2016 batch have been scheduled for May 2021, while the house surgeons of the 2015 batch completed the internship programme on April 14, 2021.
The decision by the Kerala government is seen as a victory to the KHSA strike. The KHSA therefore announced that it will discuss with the principals at the college level to withdraw the current strike, create a posting order, and that all colleges will be on duty by Monday.