In the realm of medical science, progress is undeniable. From life-saving drugs to cutting-edge robotic surgeries, the field continues to reach new heights. Each year, aspiring minds undertake the rigorous NEET entrance test, aspiring to join the elite ranks of medical professionals. Yet, the path to becoming a doctor is laden with financial hurdles.
Undoubtedly, medical education stands as one of the most expensive pursuits in India. The exorbitant costs, running into crores, make it an unattainable dream for many. The financial strain particularly impacts the dreams of those from middle-class and economically challenged backgrounds. Despite brilliance, the scarcity of funds often shatters their aspirations.
Traditionally, medical education was perceived as an avenue for the affluent. The progeny of doctors, inspired by their parents, naturally lean towards following in their footsteps. The economic advantage of senior doctors, with higher salaries and allowances, facilitated the continuity of this trend.
However, recent government regulations in Punjab have disrupted this narrative. The prohibition of government doctors running private practices while on duty has led to resignations and a preference for private clinics among senior doctors. The costliest government medical university in Punjab, Baba Farid University, and Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, add to the financial burden.
During conversations with medical students, a grim reality emerges. The journey to becoming a doctor is strewn with hardships, leading some to mental distress and even substance abuse. The exorbitant fees, especially in Punjab, coupled with an underdeveloped health system, create a discouraging scenario for prospective students.
Students report facing immense pressure from professors, potential ragging incidents, and a lack of awareness or negligence from college managements. Government hospitals, overloaded with the responsibilities of junior doctors, add to the stress. The relentless 24-hour duties and demanding post-graduation studies paint a challenging picture.
If this trend persists, the future of medical education looks bleak. The heavy financial investment required may deter both students and parents from considering medical studies. Driven by the need to recoup substantial expenses, some doctors resort to practices that lead to public mistrust.
The reduction in fees from four lakh to nine lakh in 2018 only partially addresses the issue. The overall cost, including hostel expenses, still reaches a staggering fifteen lakh. Limited seat availability exacerbates the problem.
A concerning revelation comes to light through studies showing a spike in suicides among students undergoing medical coaching, emphasizing the pressing need for mental health support. To address the challenges, governments should focus on recruiting doctors with competitive salaries, ensuring their well-being and reducing financial burdens.
In the quest for a healthier society, it’s imperative to acknowledge the trials and tribulations faced by those pursuing the noble profession of medicine.