Thursday, July 06, 2006

Why do doctors choose to work at government hospitals?

The premier medical school and hospital in India AIIMS is under attack. It is proof that the reservation issue will not die a slow death as many would want it to. How can the Union Health Minister sack a top doctor at AIIMS? Why should Dr.Venugopal wish to even remain at AIIMS anymore. It is the government itself that forces people into the private sector and then they cry and lament that the best talents of the country, educated at tax payers expense, choose to leave the country. What incentives do highly efficient and intelligent individuals have to remain in a country that does not respect or reward intelligence and genius?

I would say all the doctors should simply take an oath not to work at government hospitals anymore, and join the private sector. Why should they waste their talents for the government? I am sure private sector pay is as lucrative and much more rewarding. If there are such incentives, why do so many medical students end up working at government hospitals? It is well known that government hospitals are ineffcient in India, and private hospitals such as Apollo do a much better job. Are there restrictions on starting a hospital or a clinic? Do interns have to sign some kind of a contract with government hospitals which effectively prevents them from seeking employment elsewhere?

It is a myth that individuals want to remain in government jobs because they can earn money without working. I do not believe we are a country of lazy people. Besides government jobs do not pay that much for the first 15 years or so; although, there is complete job security after that. What could be true is that, medical colleges are churning out poor quality doctors, who stand no chance in the private sector. Are medical colleges under pressure to pass every student that is in school? I do not believe that students are dull; however they may have lack of incentive to be good doctors. That is an unsatisfactory explanation because decent medical schools charge upto Rs. 20 Lakhs for admission, besides a yearly Rs.4 Lakh on tuition fee and living expenses. If an individual has to shell out so much money to be at medical school, he would naturally want to be a good doctor so that he can earn enough to pay off medical school loans and live comfortably. Why then do good doctors flock to government hospitals?

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