March 24, 2011

Delay in centralised DNB admissions causes concern

The centralised admission procedure, introduced for the first time for the three year diplomate of the national board (DNB) -- a post-graduate broad specialty course in medicine awarded by the Delhi-based National Board of Examinations (NBE), has left both applicants and hospitals in a state of confusion and anxiety. While opinion stands divided as to whether or not the procedure should be centralised, everyone is unanimous that the execution is inordinately delayed.

Though the marks have long been declared, no one knows what rank they hold yet, and what institute they can expect. Once the merit list is declared, all candidates are expected to make it to New Delhi for the counselling procedure. The confusion in filling up the online forms added to the delay since students were first asked to fill in their final year MBBS marks and subsequently asked to enter previous year's score as well. The applicants have also complained that the list of hospitals compiled for the candidates' perusal is not exhaustive.

The diplomate qualifications, awarded after an applicant has acquired the MBBS degree, have been equated with the post-graduate and post-doctorate degrees awarded by other Indian universities by the Union ministry of health and family welfare. The MD (doctor of medicine) and MS (masters in surgery) on the other hand are degrees awarded by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

In a major decision last year, the health ministry has approved the Medical Council of India's ( MCI) proposal to allow doctors with the DNB degree to teach just like those with an MD/MS degree.

The NBE's decision to centralise the admission procedure is aimed at bringing about a greater degree of transparency and fairness. Up to last year, each hospital would put up its own merit list and conduct an interview with the candidate. However, this procedure lacked transparency.

"The centralised admissions will bring about a greater degree of fairness in allocation of seats, and eventually do away with the system of paying donation to the hospital. However, the manner in which the entire process has been carried out so far leaves a lot to be desired. The DNB primary specialty exam was held in December 2010. We got our score in January. But the all-India ranking and date of counselling have not yet been put up. A notice on the website said it would be out on February 14 by 6 pm. But that has not happened. Also, the list of colleges and number of seats they are offering are not exhaustive," said Amit Kamat, an applicant who is looking at specialising in gynaecology.

Another candidate, who wishes to specialise in surgery, said: "Once the ranks are declared on the NBE website, everyone will be required to go to Delhi, rank-wise, for the counselling procedure. We may not get enough time to reach there, as the process is already delayed. Delhi may not be a convenient location for everyone and they could have offered a zone-wise centre."

Madan Hardikar, director of Hardikar hospital, which offers DNB seats for orthopaedics, said that the move to centralise admissions had been opposed at a meeting of various institutes, which had been called by the board.

On the other hand, Mahesh Tulpule, DNB teacher at various hospitals, supported the board's decision. "It will go a long way in bringing transparency in the system. Doctors can look forward to better working conditions as hospitals that ill-treat their staff will eventually fall by the wayside. The argument that applicants will be inconvenienced by having to travel to remote places does not hold good. Even in the entrance exams for the Indian Administrative Service, only the toppers got to choose their cadre. The same holds good with the Indian Military Academy. So why should the same not apply to medicine?"

S P Singh, chief executive officer of the Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital, said that the apprehension and anxiety accompanying this initial exercise were a given. "But, eventually, it will add value to the entire educational system and everyone will benefit. The logistics like a zone-wise assignment/counselling centre will eventually fall into place."


Bipin Batra, executive director of the NBE, said the declaration of the merit list had been delayed because the applicants, despite repeated extensions, had failed to submit their data marks systematically online. "Despite extending the last date to February 4, our office was inundated with faxes to entertain further changes. So, we have extended the date one last time to February 22, after which it should take our system at least 48 hours to compute the final merit list. So the merit list and the counseling dates are likely to be declared simultaneously around February 24. We have received a record 7,000 applications from all over the country," he said.

With regard to the anxiety surrounding the centralised process, he said: "Centralisation is happening for the first time in the case of broad specialty courses. For fellowship programmes, it has been on for the last seven years."

He said that zone wise counseling centres were not possible this time around due to logistical difficulties. "However, it will happen from next year."

Link: Original Article

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