Doctors will have to have a rural stint for a year before getting their masters degree in medicine. Beginning next academic session, doctors will have to undergo a mandatory additional one-year rural internship as part of their post graduate (PG) degree in medicine. At present, PG in medicine is a three-year course, which most doctors pursue to specialise in niche areas. It is learnt that health minister A Ramadoss has already cleared a proposal to make mandatory one-year rural internship services for PG. The Medical Council (IMC) of India is preparing the guidelines and the government is planning to implement the new rules from the next academic session. “After being cleared by the health minister, the proposal has been sent to the state medical councils. Once the guidelines are issued by the IMC, the states would have to mandatorily follow them. MCI is in the process of drafting the new guidelines,” a senior health ministry official said. When contacted, an IMC official said that the guidelines would be issued in some time. The new policy of extension of medical PG by an additional year would require an amendment to the regulations guiding the PG courses. Last year, the government had planned one-year mandatory rural internship in MBBS. However, following strong protests from medical fraternity the government decided to roll back the proposal. Medical fraternity was of the view that mandatory rural service in PG course is fine, provided the final degree given is also accordingly modified. Hence, the government has gone ahead with the idea of including an extra year in the PG programme. In countries like the US and Russia, students become doctors of medicine (MD) at the end of an eight-year course. The government feels that the move will help to partly fill the huge shortage of medical services in rural areas. India has a high infant mortality rate and inadequacy of doctors in many states. According to a recent government survey, Bihar and Jharkhand have just 0.48 healthcare professionals per 1,000 people while the norm is 2.25 for every 1,000 population. Rajasthan has 1.31 and Assam has 1.37 professionals per 1,000 people. In terms of hospitals, too, rural areas are far behind urban areas. According to recent planning commission report, India has shortage of around 6 lakh doctors. At present, PG in medicine is a three-year course. Government is planning to implement the new rules from next academic session. Extension of PG would need amendment to regulations guiding the PG courses. Government feels that the move will help to partly fill huge shortage of medical services in rural areas.