According to data from the Union health ministry, fewer doctors are training to become surgeons, whereas, non-surgical courses such as cardiology, endocrinology, etc. are surging with young health professionals.
In the academic year 2018-19, 189 of the 2,029 seats in the super speciality courses remained vacant.
Of the 189 unfilled seats, 168 belonged to the four main surgical disciplines of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery (CTVS), paediatric surgery, plastic surgery and neurosurgery. In 2017-18, 290 of the 571 seats that remained vacant, belonged to these four surgical disciplines as well.
According to Dr NN Mathur, Principal of Vardhman Mahavir Medical College, the trend is a largely market-driven. An increase in the incidence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease and cancers has caused rising demand for endocrinologists, nephrologists and medical oncologists. There is more demand for interventionists as there are more patients there. Same goes for other disciplines, added Dr Mathur. Dr VK Bahl, dean of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, said, “This trend is seen not just in India, but also in developed countries. Another reason for not choosing surgical disciplines in the West, and which will soon catch up in India too, is that threat of being dragged into medico-legal cases, which is higher for surgeons.”
Inadequate infrastructure is as another reason for doctors moving away from surgical disciplines. According to Dr Pankaj Solanki, former Presiden, Federation of Resident Doctor’s Association, Delhi, which is the national capital has only a handful of government hospitals with the required infrastructure to carry out surgeries. Doctors, usually end up referring their patients to other hospitals for surgeries, which can be really frustrating for a surgeon.