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In government colleges, undergraduate seats in last five years went up by 53 per cent, while private medical colleges registered a 21 per cent increase. Representational image

Despite HC order, TN medical students from China denied internship

The Tamil Nadu Medical Council has refused to allow students — who studied medicine in China  — to complete their Compulsory Rotatory Residential Internship (CRRI) in the state.

On Tuesday (October 26), the aggrieved students, about 1,000 of them belonging to the 2015 batch who studied medicine in various institutes in China, staged a protest in Chennai against the Tamil Nadu Medical Council’s decision.

After the COVID outbreak, many of them returned to India and completed their 5th-year second-semester course online.

When the state medical council refused to give them permission for internship, the students thought of going back to China. The colleges there, however, cited COVID restrictions to suggest they complete their internships in Tamil Nadu hospitals only. For this the students had to first register with the Tamil Nadu Medical Council, which told the students that they are not eligible since they appeared for the last semester exam online.

“The medical council asks us to return to China and complete our studies (meaning to repeat the semester). The other state students from our batch could enrol for internships in their respective states, but we are still unable to register ourselves here,” said Avinaush, one of the students who completed his medical graduation in China.

“Even if we go to other states to complete our CRRI, the Tamil Nadu Medical Council has told us that it is not going to allow us to practise medicine in the state because we wrote the last semester exams online,” said Avinaush.

“Some of the students who stayed back in China and wrote their exams online were allowed to do CRRI in Tamil Nadu. In this case, the medical council has taken the passport entry and exit duration into account,” he said.

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The aggrieved students had approached the Madras High Court earlier this year. In its September 20 order, the Court has directed the medical council to allow students to take up internship in local hospitals. As a middle path, the HC suggested that in order to compensate for the online study and exam, the students can be made to do internship for 14 months instead of the mandatory 12 months.

“Despite the order, the medical council is refusing to give us permission to take up the internship. It is not responding to our queries on whether it is going for an appeal or not. We even passed Foreign Medical Graduate Examination but now we are at a dead-end,” said another student.

The Federal got in touch with the Tamil Nadu Medical Council president Dr K Senthil, who said that online exams cannot be taken into account since there are chances that the students may have cheated.

“For argument sake, they may claim that their friends and fellow students who stayed back in China too have written the exams online. But we cannot verify it because we haven’t received any information about it from any of the institutions in China. These students are staying in India for the last 21 months and we don’t know if the institutes in China are still conducting online classes,” said Dr Senthil.

The medical council president said that they spoke to Indian students who stayed in China during COVID. “They said they wrote the exams in the offline mode. Albeit we are unable to cross check the claim. Since they stayed back in that country, we guess they could have written the exams offline,” said Dr Senthil.

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Even in India, MBBS students were unable to attend classes for five months. When the situation improved, the students attended physical classes for five months and got their degrees, said Dr Senthil, adding that the state medical council will follow the norms set by the National Medical Commission.

“The students instead of fighting with us for doing internship here should have asked our governments to help them return to China and complete their studies. But they are trying to get through the backdoor using this as an opportunity,” Dr Senthil added.

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