CHENNAI: Chasing some dreams can be expensive, especially when it comes to joining private coaching centres that churn out the so-called ‘achievers’. For Fiddu (she prefers to be known by her nick name), getting an MBBS seat was at the top of her wishlist while studying in school. One national-level test, NEET, stood between Fiddu and her wish. 

A government school student in Chennai, she could not dream of getting expensive private coaching before appearing for the test. She had hoped to get selected for the free residential coaching arranged by the state government. “I was told that only two students from my school will get the chance. I wasn’t one of them and was very disappointed,” she says.

Not giving up easily, her parents borrowed Rs 15,000 from relatives to sign her up for a one-month NEET crash course at a private institute. “I could not get a seat in government medical college with my score. So I joined an arts college,” she says. A few weeks into the course, she received a call letter from the Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University for counselling to BSc Physician Assistant course, an allied health services course.  

Subsequently, she joined a government medical college in the city for pursuing the course. Soon she realised that when one door closes, another one opens. “I have gotten a job offer at a popular government hospital in the city, but I may also search for job abroad,” Fiddu says. Not just Fiddu but a few other NEET aspirants too told TNIE that they found greener pastures outside the MBBS field after they patiently waited for other opportunities. 

Fiddu’s classmate Mehrunisa says she cleared NEET in 2018 but still fell shy of the eligibility score for government medical colleges. “I secured 102 marks, when 94 was the cut-off. I was happy that I cleared NEET, but only private colleges were willing to admit me. My family would never be able to afford the fees they demanded,” Mehrunisa says.

“While preparing for NEET, I thought it was everything. My parents who never even sent me to a friend’s house for stay over, sent me for the government’s free residential training for a month. That is how I cleared NEET,” she says. It took time for Mehrunisa to realise that life was full of opportunities.

“There are always other options. I was determined to work in the medical field. The government has announced all students from the 2018 batch will get a job,” she says adding that she is also planning to apply abroad after graduating.

“Before even seeing the doctor, patients will approach me for diagnosis,” says Fiddu proudly adding that broadening her options helped to find a career she loved.

Similarly, a former NEET aspirant Sai was obsessed with the test at one point in his life. “I loved science, particularly biology. During NEET preparation, I used to study three to four hours and take at least one mock test daily. I used to collect free resources from coaching centres and even got selected for the government’s free training. Even after giving the test twice, I did not get a medical seat,” he says.

 Sai says people sometimes speak ill of a person who attempts an exam many a time. Those talks last only for a short time and people then move on. “The rejection took time to heal. Then I decided to get practical and joined for a biotechnology course. I will pursue post-graduation and enter forensics field or apply for a Central government job,” he says and jokes, “Who knows, maybe now I will become an Income Tax officer and take some corrupt doctors to the task.”

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