In a significant development in the medical education sector in the country, the Medical Council of India’s (MCI) Board of Governors (BOG) has approved the conversion of 2,120 postgraduate diploma seats to postgraduate degree seats from the academic year 2019-20. As per the notification issued by the MCI Board of Governors, the permission to convert post graduate diploma seats to degree seats is subject to the affiliation of additional PG degree seats by the concerned authority. The body has directed the respective institutes to obtain affiliation from the concerned affiliating university with regard to the enhanced intake capacity of the degree courses before admitting students.
Karnataka has got the highest number of PG degree seats under the conversion. In Karnataka, 470 PG Diploma seats were converted to PG Degree seats and it was followed by Tamil Nadu with 461 seats. Andhra got a total of 164 PG Degree seats, Assam 7, Bihar 13, Delhi 20, Gujarat 140, Haryana 13, Jammu and Kashmir 51, Jharkhand 13, Kerala 55, Madhya Pradesh 113, Maharashtra 275, Puducherry 15, Rajasthan 44, Telangana 177, UP 79 and West Bengal 10.
The decision to convert PG diploma seats into PG degree has been widely hailed by various stakeholders as they feel that it will benefit medical education in the country. They also observed that the move will help to produce more PG degree holders who are entitled to teach in medical colleges.
Eligible to teach
“The PG diploma holders are not eligible to teach in the medical colleges as per existing rules. PG diploma and PG degree students are doing the same job and getting the same experience. The only difference is that diploma is a two-year course and PG degree is a three-year course. PG degree holders can become teachers in the future, and it is recognized in the majority of the countries, but the PG diploma is not. The conversion of all PG diploma seats into PG degree seats will help to get more qualified postgraduate doctors,” said Dr Shivkumar Utture, President, Maharashtra Medical Council. He added that when there are more post-graduate qualified doctors, better treatment can be provided to patients.
The decision is also likely to address the issue of the shortage of PG degree seats. “Considering the number of medical graduates coming out of the colleges every year, a sufficient number of PG degree seats are not available for them. The PG diploma course was conceived a long time back with a vision to create more postgraduates. The course had many disadvantages, which include a shortened training and a lack of research-based curriculum, among others. They are also not entitled to teach in medical colleges. PG diploma holders don’t get many of the entitlements that PG degree holders get, due to the difference of one year. When new medical colleges come up, there will be increased demand for trained manpower and the present decision will help to address the issue,”said Dr Jayakrishnan A V, Chairman, IMA Hospital Board of India, Kerala Chapter. He added that the existing facilities are enough for training more PG degree students.
The PG diploma holders, who are not entitled to teach in medical colleges, have been demanding for a long time that they should be allowed to teach in medical colleges. However, the government and MCI did not agree. “There is a huge shortage of medical college teachers, and with the increase in seats, the issue can be addressed to some extent. Diploma holders will have to do an additional one-year course to become eligible to teach. Existing PG diploma holders should be provided an option to do their PG course,” said Dr. Alexander Thomas, President, The Association of National Board Accredited Institutions (ANBAI).
Meanwhile, Kerala, which has around 100 PG diploma seats in government medical colleges, has refused to surrender all its PG diploma seats and convert them to PG degree seats. The government cited a lack of reservation for government doctors in PG degree courses. “At present, government doctors have a reservation for PG diploma courses. But there is no reservation in PG degree courses, which will deny government doctors an opportunity to do a postgraduate course. The state government opposes the move due to this lack of reservation,” said Rajeev Sadanandan, Additional Chief Secretary, Health, Kerala. He further stated that reservation can be provided to government doctors only by amending the MCI Act.