The introduction of the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill has raised concerns among medical experts and parents of medical aspirants. The Union Health Ministry had released the bill last week according to which an exit test (National Exit Test or NEXT) will be conducted for MBBS graduates in order to qualify for medical practice.
The amendments were introduced with a purpose of providing a level-playing field for government as well as private college students. The draft was open for feedback from the general public. Parents and doctors from Mumbai have opposed the decision.
Parents have questioned the validity of NEXT along with the 50% reservation in post-graduation seats for candidates who are part of government services.
A pediatrician from Nashik, Rajendra Kulkarni said that NEXT will only be a redundant exam as the colleges continuously assess the students on the basis of exams conducted throughout the course. He further added that the meritorious students will be discouraged to take up medical courses due to NEXT.
According to the draft, NEXT will replace the NEET PG for admission to PG medical courses. It has not been made clear as to what will happen to the students who fail NEXT. Doctors have also suggested that students should be permitted to take NEXT multiple times for admission to PG programmes.
Many parents and doctors accepted that NEXT will help in introducing uniform standards in medical education but were strongly against the 50% reservation clause as they exploit the merit-based admission clause.
50% constitutional reservations at both UG and PG levels along with 50% additional reservation for government medical officers, open category students will have less than 25% chance of qualifying, said Sudha Shenoy, parent of a medical student.
Experts also stated that it will increase the education timeline for the medical students as it will take a medical student 13 years to complete his education. These 13 years will include an MBBS degree, one-year for compulsory government service and an ME programme. The students will be demotivated by the length of the courses required to become a practicing doctor, added experts.