Untrained medicos afraid of Covid duty

City COVID-19

Want supervision when they work in the wards

Kolkata: Final-year medical and nursing students are not confident about serving in Covid-19 wards as they lack hands-on experience. They want supervision during duty hours and workshops to be held before they can work in the wards.

A final-year MBBS student of the Calcutta Medical College (CMC) informed The Observer: “MBBS is more about identifying the disease than its treatment. We have least experience in treating patients; we might end up doing more harm than good.”

On May 3, the Centre said final-year MBBS students, along with students of BSc Nursing and general nursing and midwifery (GNM), can be deployed to attend to Covid patients to tackle the shortage of medical staff. They will be paid an incentive, and get priority in regular government recruitment on completion of 100 days.

According to an Anandabazar Patrika report, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has said 10,000 hospital beds will be added soon to tackle the Covid-19 surge in the state. She wants to deploy final-year medical and nursing students after getting a nod from medical experts.

Final-year GNM students of the Calcutta Nursing Training Institute (CNTI) have been verbally asked to be prepared to serve in Covid wards. Tapasi Basu Mullick, principal of CNTI, said: “We had to send details of the final-year students to the West Bengal Nursing Council following an order from the ministry of health and family welfare. Though they did not clearly mention any reason, still we are preparing our students mentally for the worst-case scenario.”

A final-year student of CNTI said: “We have very little practical exposure. We were at home for the entire year attending online classes. How can we handle the pressure of a Covid-19 ward?”

A final-year GNM student from the RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences said: “We know that we have to treat Covid-19 patients either today or tomorrow, but for that we need proper supervision as all of us lack experience.”

Medical infrastructure in West Bengal is poor and many doctors and nurses have tested positive. “In such a condition, I don’t think seniors will get time to supervise the juniors. It might lead us paying a heavy cost,” said a final-year MBBS student of CMC.

The West Bengal government has begun deploying final-year medical students of some colleges for its telemedicine service. It will pay no incentive.

Dipanjan Koley, an MBBS student of Nil Ratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, said: “We got a notice through our college which suggested the entire batch work in the telemedicine service from this week.” The batch of 250 students has been divided into groups of 25. Each group is asked to serve for a week. Thereafter, the same order will be repeated.

The Observer reported on May 4 that the Karnataka Association of Resident Doctors condemned the Centre’s decision to deploy final-year medical students in Covid wards. They accused the government of making doctors scapegoats.


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