The National Medical Commission (NMC), the apex body regulating medical education and medical professionals in India, has announced that the National Exit Test (NExT) will now be mandatory for all MBBS graduates and foreign medical graduates who want to practice medicine in India.
NExT will make sure that MBBS graduates have participated in mandatory practical internships and have the theoretical knowledge necessary to practice with the respective State Medical Councils.
Dr Aruna Vanikar, NMC’s President Under Graduate Medical Education Board, said that this will ensure that only qualified doctors get a chance to practice, which is not the case at present.
This new norm shall be implemented from 2023 once the Union Health Ministry and the Indian Government have approved the same.
She further said that NExT will be a mandatory test for both Indian and foreign medical graduates who wish to practice medicine in India. This will bring transparency, uniformity and accountability, within the medical field. Currently, each state medical university has its own norms while conducting medical examinations, who patterns often vary.
The implementation of the National Exit Test (NExT) will be based on the NMC Act 2019. The exam will include Step 1 and Step 2 - Step 1 will be a multiple-choice theoretical examination in which all students will appear simultaneously and Step 2 will be based on practical knowledge gained during internship.
Only after clearing Step 1 can students start their clinical clerkship or internship in the colleges from which they have graduated.
Those who do not clear the NExT exam will be allowed to retake the test. However, the duration of their MBBS course and clearing NExT should be completed within 10 years from the date of taking admission to MBBS.
Dr Aruna also said that NMC has decided to use NExT scores for students intending to take up postgraduation medical courses such as MD, MD, DNB, etc. This decision has been made keeping in mind that many students immediately start preparing for the postgraduation entrance exam NEET-PG and skip the crucial fieldwork.
The examinations will be conducted at the levels of state health universities, centres of excellence or standard medical education centres where previous facilities do not exist. Successful candidates will be added to the state or national medical register and each doctor will have their own unique identity. Hence, foreign medical graduates (FMGs), after being certified as medical practitioners where they’ve obtained their medical degrees from, will have to spend 15 to 18 more months to be qualified as registered medical practitioners in India.
Also Read: Is NEET Compulsory to Study MBBS Abroad?
She added that tough steps should be taken to save public health and the future of India. These include the capping of fees in all institutions with the support of Central and state governments, institutions, philanthropists and stakeholders in order to make medical education more humane and worthy.
However, Dr Vedprakash Mishra, Pro-Chancellor, Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Science, Nagpur and the former chairman of MCI and Postgraduate Medical Education Committee, highlighted the concern of NMC on Indian students going abroad for MBBS and its proposal to remove the age bar for entry to MBBS and lowering the fees for MBBS at government medical colleges in India.
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