In 2019, the Government of India passed the National Medical Commission Bill (NMC Bill 2019), wherein, the entire regulation of medical education and practice will undergo a complete overhaul. Currently, the Medical Council of India is the body responsible for regulating medical education practice. With the implementation of the NMC Bill, the MCI will be replaced by the National Medical Commission, once the Bill is passed in Rajya Sabha.
Among the changes that have been proposed under the National Medical Commission Bill 2019, all MBBS graduates will be required to sit for an MBBS exit exam, aptly named, the NEXT or National Exit Test. Here is all that you need to know about NEXT and its effect on medical education and practice.
What is NEXT-National Exit Test: Exam Details for MBBS
As per the NMC Bill 2019, NEXT or National Exit Test will be a common exit exam conducted to promote meritorious medical students to practice medicine in their respective fields or even pursue higher education. As part of being an exit exam, NEXT will also be the common gateway to attain a licence to practice medicine across India.
One of the common issues witnesses in India comes from the fact that many illegal practices and unqualified doctors practise modern medicine in the nation. With the implementation of the examination, all MBBS students will be required to sit for the exit exam, clear the exam and gain their licence to practice medicine.
With the proposal in the last few phases of approval, it is inevitable that witness medical aspirants, especially MBBS aspirants, across India to be frightened by the changes that will be brought in once Bill is passed. However, the government claims that the changes will only promote the enhancement of the medical industry of India. NEXT is just one step among many to ensure improvement in the industry.
With the current draft of the National Medical Commission Bill 2019, the objective seems to be enhancing the quality of MBBS graduates across medical institutes in India. Through NEXT, the Centre’s goal is to combine both the MBBS exit exam and the MBBS licentiate exam into one Exit Test. This will qualify the MBBS graduates to both practice medicine across India and pursue higher education.
Three years from the implementation of the NMC Bill 2019, the Exit Test, NEXT, will be operational, thus replacing NEET-PG examination in the process as well. This decision had been made in one of the recent amendments of the Bill. The exit exam will be conducted at the MBBS level and may even consist entirely of MCQ-based exam pattern. However, one cannot assume that the subjective-type questions will be done away with, after the implementation of the exam.
It is important to note that the examination is still at the approval stage and changes can be made, as the Rajya Sabha is yet to pass the Bill. Therefore, the opinions stated in the article are purely based on the information currently available regarding the NMC Bill 2019.
Overview and Objectives of NEXT
Keeping in mind the statements made above, here are some of the objectives of NEXT exit ema for MBBS. We will also talk about the changes that will come under the new exit and licentiate exam which will become mandatory for MBBS graduates to clear, in order to be deemed as qualified doctors.
Through NEXT, the Centre plans to produce a more qualified and skilled batch of MBBS graduates in India. With the help of introducing a much deeper understanding of concepts and enhancing the skills with reference to problem-solving in the final MBBS students. A more practical aspect will be brought in through the examination as well.
Apart from being an exit test for MBBS students in India, NEXt will also cater to aspirants who completed their MBBS from abroad but wish to practice medicine in India. Earlier, such candidates were to sit for Foreign Medical Graduate Exam or commonly known as FMGE. With the implementation of the Bill, it is expected to see FMGE be replaced by NEXT as well.
Recent Amendments state that the examination will also be the common denominator for granting admissions to the postgraduate medical courses in India, subsequently replacing NEET-PG.
Along with being an entrance, licentiate and screening test, a common counselling process will also be conducted under NEXT for admissions to MBBS and PG medical courses in India.
Among some of the other changes that have been proposed with NEXT for MBBS graduates, it has also been proposed that MBBS graduates who clear the exam will be required to work for 3 years in a rural or tribal area. Further, those planning to pursue an MD/MS or any PG medical course following their MBBS degree, candidates will further be asked work for another 3 years in similar difficult areas, in the specialisation chosen by them.
What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of NEXT?
With the implementation of the National Medical Commission, there are bound to be some pros and cons of the step. The major aim of the entire National Medical Commission Bill 2019 was to improve on the functions where the MCI lacked and most importantly reduce the corruption present under the Council. Therefore, the Centre has taken steps to not only reduce corruption but also streamline the entire process of regulating the medical industry. Here are some advantages and Disadvantages of NEXT.
Advantages of NEXT for MBBS
Increasing the Number of Qualified MBBS graduates:
With the use of one exit exam, medical colleges in India will be able to produce skilled and qualified MBBS graduates. As per statistics and report, India produces nearly 60,000 MBBS graduates every year. Which, even though seems to be a lot, the doctor to patient ratio still remains high. Moreover, there is a lack in the number of qualified and skilled doctors who do make a difference in society. By introducing one common exit exam for all MBBS graduates, the government will be able to regulate the quality of MBBS graduates.
Uniformity through One Exam
Adding to the point above, introducing one exit, licentiate and screening exam will allow only those graduates with the practical and theoretical skill to operate in day to conditions of India. However, the process of bringing in uniformity among MBBS graduates will take time.
Quality Enhancement of Medical Facilities
As part of the exit exam and overall requirement to be a doctor, and as mentioned above, each MBBS candidate will be required to have worked for 3 years in rural and tribal settings. Currently, the medical facilities available in rural and more remote areas of the country lack the necessary medical facilities. Through NEXT, it is possible to improve the conditions of the remote settings and enhance the health care facilities for each citizen of the country.
Removal of Unnecessary Paperwork for Foreign Students
Earlier, any foreign MBBS graduate who wished to pursue his/her career in India was required to sit for an MCI screening test, also known as FMGE, which has been known to include a sea of paperwork.
Build an International Recognition
Once the exit exam is operational, it is expected to see India follow the medical regulations and medical development as seen in international countries. One of the major objectives of NEXT and NMC Bill 2019, in general, is to enhance the overall medical industry in India. Thus, also helping India become a global competitor in terms of medical services offered.
Disadvantages of NEXT for MBBS
While one can sing praises of the new development in the field of medicine, each coin has two sides. In other words, the National Exit Test also encases a few disadvantages.
Rise of Expensive Coaching Centres:
As is the case for various national-level exams, especially in the field of Medicine and Engineering, a rise in innumerable coaching centres will be inevitable. For instance, there are thousands of coaching centres for JEE Mains. While on one hand, it offers students the opportunity to crack the difficult examinations. On the other hand, coaching centres are able to charge impractical and unfair coaching fees, which those who are interested in crack such exams, will avail the facility. Thus further exploitation of the students can be witnessed over the years.
Overall Increased Duration of Medical Education
As mentioned above in the objective and overview section of the article, MBBS and PG medical graduates will be asked to work 3 years in rural/tribal settings, thus increasing the overall duration of education in medicine. However, the bright side is that the decision has not been made final and changes to the same can be made before implementing the NMC Bill 2019.
While this may be a doubt more than a disadvantage, the proposal of implementing NEXT three years after the NMC Bill 2019 is approved, can still lead numerous loop-holes and faults in the implementation process which can negatively affect the objectives of the exam.
Will NEXT be Successful?
While the National Medical Commission Bill 2019 is still in the process of approval and sit at the Rajya Sabha for the same, it cannot be assured that the entire step will either fail or succeed. As per the promises that have been mentioned in the NMC Bill 2019, one can also hope that the implementation of the Bill is successful and is able to remove dearth and flaws of the Medical Council of India.
Being a standardised test, which will be conducted in medical colleges across India, it will be a task for the conducting body to regulate and ensure that no hiccups are witnessed. More importantly, that the exit exam is able to reach to the proposals and goals set under the NMC Bill 2019. As is the case with everything, the results through the process may seem insignificant. However, it is important to see whether the Bill is able to meet its goal and proposals, giving it the time it needs.
Nonetheless, one cannot ignore the doubts, worries and distrust that the stakeholders hold with regards to the implementation of the bill. In 2017, over 6 medical colleges in Malabar held protests against the NMC Bill 2019. Stakeholders claim that the implementation of the Bill is a sign of Government questioning its own protocols with regards to undergraduate teaching in medicine.
One can only assume and contemplate the effects of the changes, whether positive or negative, with regards to the National Medical Commission Bill 2019. What are your opinions on the changes proposed through NEXT and NMC Bill 2019?