It is not a hidden fact that India is in urgent need of health reformation. It has been in there for quite a while, but due to the onset of the corona virus-induced pandemic, the demand for the reformation has sped up exponentially. As a result, the barely stable health infrastructure of the country is collapsing every moment.
These days the heart-wrenching stories of families waiting for hospital assistance, in front of the hospital and on the road for their dying loved ones have unfortunately become a common occurrence. The story is not different for even those who were fortunate enough to be admitted to the hospital premises as almost all the hospitals big or small, rural, urban, or metropolitan cities are having an underhand against the coronavirus due to the shortage in technical and professional resources.
Thus, it is now very evident that it is about time that appropriate measures are taken to overcome the understaffing of these hospitals. For this role, elementary medical education (MBBS, B.Sc. Nursing, etc) is required to be emphasized. However, there are limited seats among the government medical colleges to provide the required education to all qualified students. Every year approximately 14 Lakh students qualify NEET exam mandatory to pursue any form of medical education. For these qualified students, there are just 75,000 seats available in the government medical colleges. Thus a huge chunk of students prefers to avoid the costly education in private universities and choose to study MBBS abroad, at a much more affordable cost for quality education and global exposure.
However, the recent Draft published by the National Medical Council (NMC) has managed to raise various questions, concerns, and worries among the students who are currently studying MBBS abroad or are planning to do so.
Let’s try to understand the proposal of the NMC Draft 2021 for FMGs, what it promises, or how it is concerned for all the students looking for MBBS abroad.
What is NMC ?
The National Medical Council (NMC), previously known as the Medical Council of India (MCI) is a regulatory body of 33 members with the purpose of regulating medical education and medical professionals in India. The NMC is responsible for establishing eligibility standards, granting recognition of medical qualifications, accreditation to medical schools, registration to medical practitioners, monitoring medical practice, and assessing the medical infrastructure in India.
What is NMC Draft 2021?
NMC has published a Draft on 27 April 2021 in regards to the Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs). The draft was published by the Undergraduate Medical Education Board, a sub-body of NMC, responsible for the primary level of medical education in the country. Since the document is a draft, the presented points are still open for discussion and improvements on the basis of student and expert analysis.
The draft proposes the eligibility criteria for the students who are opting for MBBS study abroad before and after their study to practice in India.
Key Features of NMC Draft 2021
1. Eligibility Criteria to study MBBS in Abroad
The NMC Draft 2021 suggests the students, who have done their schooling from India, and choose to study medicine outside the country must have studied Physics, Chemistry, Biology/Biotechnology as core subjects in the last two years of their schooling or during graduation after schooling. The students must have scored the minimum marks required for the application. Apart from this, the student should have a qualified NTA NEET(UG) exam conducted every year,
2. Eligibility Criteria for practicing medicine in India
In order to practice MBBS in India, the student must have completed their MBBS abroad from an MCI(NMC) approved university and the student must have followed the prescribed curriculum by the NMC. After completing their study overseas, the student must have qualified Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE), a screening test for medical licensing administered by NMC, conducted twice a year, until said otherwise.
3. National Exit Test (NExT)
The NMC will soon introduce the National Exit Test (NExT) replacing the existing FMGE. It will be the mandatory licensing exam for all the medical graduates of India as well as abroad. The NExT would be conducted in two phases as Step-1 and Step-2, the proposed plan is that the FMGs would be required to appear and qualify an additional paper at Step 1 of NExT.
The Experts’ Concerns
The educational leaders and medical field experts have started taking the current pandemic situation in the country as a lesson and have clearly presented their opinions in generating more doctors and medical staff in the country. As a result, these virtuosos are criticizing the NMC Draft 2021 due to various reasons like:
- The recent decision by the Indian judiciary system has allowed the eligibility of the students who have studied Biology as an elective subject for appearing and applying for medical study abroad. The said suggestion of the draft, the the students must have studied Biology as a core subject to be eligible for medical study is in complete violation of the court’s order.
- It is not possible for all the countries of abroad to follow the complete NMC prescribed curriculum as the universities are also responsible for the medical requirements of their native countries. Thus, most of the MCI approved universities follow the basic curricular structures for theoretical as well as fundamental subjects but the covered disease spectrum varies as per the region.
- The decision to introduce a common licensing exam for all the medical graduates from as well as outside India, was welcomed as it aimed to set the criteria for quality overcoming the categorisation imposed on the FMGs and providing a uniform standard of eligibility. However, the additional paper for FMGs has raised questions once again.
At the present time has reflected on our limitation regarding healthcare in our country. It is important that we produce more qualified and well-skilled professionals. Though establishing new universities, medical colleges and equipping them with the required resource is a tedious job, which might provide the desired outcome, but only after almost a decade. Now is not the time to wait for things to work out, instead, it is required to use the resources currently in hands of the country.