Explained: Why some doctors want NEET-PG for 2022 delayed


MBBS graduates are agitating, and have also approached the Supreme Court, with the demand to delay NEET-PG for 2022 by six to ten weeks, as the counselling process for the previous batch has either just been concluded or is still going on. However, the National Board of Examination (NBE) — which conducts the test — has announced it will take place on May 21 and has started issuing admit cards.

After taking to streets to protest delays in 2021 NEET-PG counselling, why do some doctors now want the 2022 examination delayed?

Why are the students demanding a delay in examination?

MBBS graduates who have completed their year-long mandatory internship have to appear for NEET-PG to qualify for post-graduation seats. The number of students appearing each year is nearly three to four times the 42,000 seats available across the country. Hence, many end up taking multiple shots at the test.

The NEET-PG 2021 was severely delayed because of the Covid pandemic and litigations, as a result of which the counselling process began only in January this year. What should have been wrapped up in a couple of months is still ongoing – again because of litigations and procedural delays such as some seats being allocated offline but reflecting as vacant for the next round of online counselling, and consequently being allotted to two persons.

The counselling process is finally wrapping up. However, with just ten days remaining for the next year’s examination, students say they weren’t able to get a study break between the counselling process for 2021 and examination for 2022.

“In fact, the date for the 2022 examination is clashing with the dates for counselling for College of Physicians and Surgeons of Mumbai. It might also clash for some students from Rajasthan. Plus, since the process has been delayed for long and the resident doctors are already overworked, another two weeks should not make a difference,” claimed Dr Rohan Kishnan, president of the Federation of All India Medical Associations (FAIMA), which was one of the associations that went on a strike last year to expedite NEET PG counselling.

Why the delay matters

The post-graduate students, in addition to their classes, also work in the hospitals associated with the medical colleges as junior resident doctors as part of their training.

The delays in conducting the exams and counselling last year resulted in a gap in the academic calendar. The third year post-graduates, after their final exams, will take up jobs as senior residents. The second year students will move to third year, but those who were supposed to be in second year are only now joining in first year. With resident doctors being the backbone of the services provided in medical college hospitals, there will be a one-third shortage of manpower.

This shortage was the reason the over-worked resident doctors across India went on a strike December last year to expedite the counselling process.

Do some doctors oppose the move?

Yes. A large section of the resident doctors who participated in the protest last year feel that any delay will keep pushing back the academic calendar further. “It is time to reconcile the academic calendar now that Covid-19 has gone down. Plus, if the exam is delayed right now, what is the guarantee there won’t be a surge in Covid cases after ten weeks? Last year too, the exam was first pushed when Covid cases weren’t too high, and then it kept getting delayed because of Covid and court cases,” said one resident doctor,on condition of anonymity.

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Another said, “The delay in counselling process has largely been because of litigations by students. It was clearly stated in the guidelines before the counselling process that those who take up a seat in the second round will not be eligible for the mop-up round, but some students still did that and others filed a case. This led to long delays. Now, the students want to push it further? For what reason? If they applied in NEET 2021, they must have been studying the entire last year anyway.”

The examination for 2022 has already been pushed once from March this year to May since the counselling process was not completed.