Every undergraduate medical student has to complete a period of compulsory rotatory internship to get the MBBS degree. Each student is provided with a stipend during this period. ‘Intern’, according to dictionary, is a student or a recent graduate usually in a professional field who works for a period of time at a job in order to get experience or in the field of medicine it is the person who works in a hospital in order to complete training as a doctor.
But in practice it is not clear if the internship period is considered a training period or if the interns work like regular hospital employees. Because if they are considered as trainees, then their stipend is like a scholarship and if they are considered equal to employees, then they must be paid a good amount as salary from which they can pay their tax. It seems that in reality neither is practised and the interns are exploited in some hospitals.
Recently, Dr Soham D Bhaduri, in an article published in India Medical Times, highlighted how MBBS interns at some hospitals in Maharashtra are being paid a measly sum of Rs 6,000 a month. And as if that’s not enough insult to the talent of a budding doctor the interns are also being forced to pay a professional tax from their meagre stipend.
Internship is the most important period of the medical career, the year in which the fresh minds are moulded and prepared to enter the world of healers. The interns work 24×7 with only one-day leave in a month according to the Medical Council of India (MCI) regulations. During this period, they manage the outpatients, emergencies and inpatients in the absence of senior doctors apart from assisting them and learning and gaining experience simultaneously (not to mention the PG exam preparation). No doubt, they work hard and tirelessly to come out as competent doctors.
The authorities should therefore sympathetically consider the concerns of young MBBS interns and do the needful to stop levying professional tax on their meagre stipend. Senior doctors and leaders of medical associations can also help the young medical graduates and prospective members of their medical associations at the time of their need by giving moral support and raising this issue before the appropriate authorities or in whatever way they think right.