Surgery losing its glory as medical students choose other me
Dermatology, Obstetrics and Paediatrics among sought after courses.

Since the age of six, Dr. S Karthikeyan had watched his father rush out of home at odd hours for emergency surgeries and be showered by praise and gratitude for saving a life. For long, he thought the scalpel was like a magic wand. But with just a few weeks left for him to choose his specialty, the young doctor is sceptical about the scalpel.

“Surgery slices away family and personal time and brings lesser money,” said Dr. Karthikeyan, who graduated from a Chennai-based medical college in 2017 and is due to appear for his postgraduate entrance exams.

Over the past five years, several young doctors are choosing medical streams as they feel surgery has lost its glory. In 2018, only 12 of top 100 students chose surgery as career during online counselling by Directorate General of Health Services. Similar trends have been observed during admissions for Tamil Nadu government quota medical seats for a few years now.

Academicians confirm that the best of the students today opt for MD medicine rather than surgery. Sometimes to ensure surgery seats don’t go vacant college managements lower fee structure to lure students. At SRM Medical College, for instance, there are 15 general medicine seats compared to eight in surgery. While the tuition fee for general medicine is ~40 lakh per annum, they reduced the fee by ~5 lakh a year for students opting for surgery. “The colleges hike fees when they know there is demand. The seats are so few and the competition so tough that students join without protest. They know job opportunity for general medicine is huge,” said Dr. G R Ravindranath, general secretary, Doctors Association for Social Equality.

The most evident divide is seen in super specialty courses in government and private colleges, in which up to 100% of seats in courses such as cardiothoracic surgery are vacant. Students who choose surgery either remain general surgeons doing small throat, abdominal surgeries or emergency surgeries. “Popular courses in surgical specialty now are gastroenterology, oncology and urology. Although we have doyens in cardiac surgery, many students don’t opt for it now because several cardiac procedures are now done using minimally invasive procedures,” said Dr. C V Bhirmanandam, vice-president, Medical Council of India.

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