Why Andhra Pradesh is offering huge salary hikes to medical educators in tribal and rural areas

For medical colleges in tribal areas, the government will provide an additional allowance of 50 percent of the basic salary, while for remote rural areas, it will provide an additional 30 percent.

BySumit Jha

Published May 18, 2024 | 3:00 PM Updated May 18, 2024 | 3:00 PM

Why Andhra Pradesh is offering huge salary hikes to medical educators in tribal and rural areas

As the upcoming academic season for medical studies approaches, the governments of the southern states are planning to start new medical colleges. These institutions will be established primarily in rural and tribal areas to serve the local populations.

Andhra Pradesh, in particular, plans to open five new medical colleges in the 2024-25 academic year and an additional seven in 2025-26.

However, the state faces challenges in hiring faculty for these colleges, as many are reluctant to work in rural and tribal areas due to a lack of basic resources.

The National Medical Council (NMC) requires institutions to ensure a certain number of faculty members before granting permission to start a new medical college.

To attract faculty to rural and tribal areas, the Andhra Pradesh government has increased incentives in addition to the basic pay for new hires.

For medical colleges in tribal areas, the government will provide an additional allowance of 50 percent of the basic salary, while for remote rural areas, it will provide an additional 30 percent.

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New medical colleges and allowances

The Government has sanctioned five new medical colleges in Paderu, Pulivendula, Adoni, Madanapalli and Markapur to start in the academic year 2024-25.

The Director of Medical Education further said that the government has sanctioned new medical colleges in Piduguralla, Penukonda, Amalapuram, Bapatla, Palakollu, Narsipatnam, and Parvathipuram with plans for them to commence operations from the academic year 2025-2026.

“Accordingly, recruitment has been conducted for fill these vacancies. Despite continuous efforts made to fill teaching faculty positions, a large number of vacancies remain unfilled,” said the health department.

The health department further added that the Director of Medical Education has asked to issue orders to provide an additional allowance of 50 percent of the basic salary for teaching faculty in the case of tribal and remote rural areas, and 30 percent in other areas, as an incentive to ensure faculty positions are filled according to NMC norms.

“Government after careful examination of the proposal, hereby sanction 50 percent of basic pay as incentive in the new medical colleges of tribal and remote rural areas and 30 percent in the new medical colleges for other areas as allowances as detailed below for filling teaching faculty positions in the new government medical colleges for providing better health facilities to the people of tribal and remote rural areas as a special case,” said the government in it’s order.

After the order, the staff of the five medical colleges in Paderu, Markapur, Parvathipuram, Piduguralla, and Penukonda, which falls under tribal belt, will receive a 50 percent allowance on their basic salary/

The medical colleges in Pulivendula, Madanapalli, Adoni, Amalapuram, Bapatla, Palakollu, and Narsipatnam, which fall under remote rural areas, will also get a 30 percent allowance.

“The above allowance is only applicable to the teaching faculty, who are already working and who are going to be recruited as and when recruitment is being taken up in the said medical colleges,” said the government.

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New recruitment notification: Assistant Professors

After the government announced the increment, they also issued a notification for the recruitment of Assistant Professors in Broad Specialties in Phase-II Government Medical Colleges through Direct Recruitment and Lateral Entry on a regular basis under the control of Director of Medical Education, Vijayawada.

There are a total of 29 posts vacant, and the candidates can apply from 18 May to 27 May 2024.

Recruiting and retaining qualified faculty is more challenging for rural medical colleges due to the lack of housing, security issues, and doctors’ preference for urban postings.

Urban medical colleges, in contrast, attract more out-of-town talent and have a larger pool of local applicants. However, there are also benefits of having a rural institute.

“Rural medical colleges offer students hands-on experience in community health and exposure to issues faced by underserved populations, providing a unique learning environment,” said Dr Jaswant, a member of Andhra Pradesh Junior Doctors Association.

“Urban medical colleges may not offer as much direct community engagement and rural health exposure in their curriculum,” he pointed out.

“Additionally, rural medical colleges can become centres of excellence for research on rural health issues and innovations to improve healthcare delivery in remote areas as most of the Indian population stays in rural areas,” he said.

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‘A welcome move’

“But, for a doctor, it’s a difficult decision. After spending 12-13 years earning an MD, MS, or DM degree and becoming a specialist, it’s understandable that one might leave a place with no facilities and low incentives compared to peers.

Jaswant said, “people who choose to stay in such areas are often seen as either very committed or avoiding city life for personal reasons.”

He said that doctors seek good services for their families, including quality schools for their children and adequate health services for their parents. Unfortunately, in tribal areas, such amenities are hard to come by. Good schools for children are scarce, and specialty hospitals for the elderly are nonexistent, he further said.

“Even traffic police constables receive extra allowances when standing in the sun; similarly, we should also receive such benefits. Many rural centres lack basic amenities like bathrooms, forcing doctors to walk long distances,” Jaswant noted.

He also pointed out that security issues and delays in postings by the Directorate of Medical Education exacerbate the already daunting work conditions in rural areas.

“Professors often have to take on additional responsibilities, such as calming angry patients, talking down suicidal callers. Attracting out-of-town talent is also difficult due to the lack of affordable housing in rural areas,” Dr Jaswant said.

He said that previously, the government increased allowances for teachers, and now they are calling for similar measures for medical faculty in rural areas. “This is great news for the applicants,” Dr Jaswant said.

He also pointed that there is no clear career trajectory for a doctor working in a rural area.

“You might be doing the same job at 60 that you were doing at 35. This issue is particularly pronounced in non-clinical courses like microbiology, physiology, anatomy, pathology, and biochemistry,” Dr Jaswant said.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)