As the country is grappling with the second wave of COVID-19, the union government has decided to postpone the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (Postgraduate) known as NEET-PG for at least four months to make a large number of qualified doctors available for covid duties.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reviewed various measures to augment human resources for effective management of the COVID-19 situation and possible steps discussed include incentivising students and pass-outs of medical and nursing courses to join the pandemic duty.
"Decisions may include delaying NEET and incentivizing MBBS pass-outs studying for it to join the COVID-19 duty. The decisions may also include utilising services of final-year MBBS and nursing students," a government source added.
The medical personnel doing the COVID-19 duty may be given preference in the government recruitment and financial incentives as well, the source said.
The review meeting took place amid reports of healthcare personnel feeling overwhelmed in some parts of the country due to the surge in the COVID-19 cases, with testing facilities also being under a strain.
In an earlier review meeting with Modi, institutions like Army had highlighted that they had opened temporary hospitals and their medical staff is also treating civilians wherever they can.
The NEET-PG is a qualifying and ranking examination in India, for students who wish to study various postgraduate Doctor of Medicine, Master of Surgery and diploma courses, in government or private medical colleges in the country.
Some key decisions taken are:
• Those doing medical internships can be deployed for Covid duties under the supervision of the faculty. This would also be part of the internship.
• Final-year MBBS students can be deployed for teleconsultation and treatment of mild Covid cases
• Nurses, who have BSc or GNM qualification, can be deployed for ICU duties under the supervision of senior doctors and nurses. As students of MSc nursing, post-basic BSc and post-basic diploma are registered nurses, they can take care of Covid patients.
• Students, awaiting the final-year BSc and GNM exams, can also be deployed at Covid hospitals.
• Allied health workers can also be utilised for Covid measures, based on their certificates and training received.
• Also, services of final-year PG students as residents can be continued to be utilised till the next PG batch joins.