July 6, The IMA has opposed the National Exit Test (NExT), saying it is not possible to implement it in the current scenario until the National Medical Commission (NMC) ensures uniform standards of education across medical colleges in India.
The NMC last week issued the NExT (National Exit Test) Regulations 2023, stating that the exam will be held in two phases, with the NExT Step 1 and NExT Step 2 exams being held twice a year.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has appealed to the central government to intervene and instruct the NMC to reconsider the proposal for NExT, hold detailed discussions with stakeholders and address all concerns before attempting the implementation of NExT for Indian medical college students.
In a gazette notification, the NMC said that NExT shall form the basis of certifying the eligibility of a medical graduate to register to practise the modern system of medicine in India and therefore, serve as a licentiate examination.
It will also form the basis for determining the eligibility and ranking for the purpose of admission of those desirous of pursuing further postgraduate medical education in the country in broad medical specialities and therefore, serve as an entrance examination for admission to courses of PG medical education.
In a statement, the IMA said nearly 50 per cent of the total medical colleges in India were started just 10-15 years and the standards of such colleges cannot be compared to those with well-trained teachers and established systems.
“That too AIIMS conducting NExT will be detrimental to the students of newly started medical colleges. A minimum common standard of education should be ensured prior to uniform examination by periodic assessment and upgradation,” it added.
The IMA further said creating an exit test for a medical licence for Indian medical graduates is “mocking at our own system”.
The doctors’ body said it is certainly required for foreign medical graduates since the NMC has no control over their standard of education, it stated.
The IMA further pointed out that a licensing exam and a PG entrance exam can never be the same as their purposes are entirely different.
A licensing exam should assess the lowest minimum standard while an entrance exam would assess the best merit among students, it said.
“If at all a central exam is being conducted for licensing, the set of questions should be different from that for PG entrance,” the IMA said.
“It is mentioned that the testing will be based on high-quality MCQs. This is an injustice to the underprivileged sections of society especially in rural areas of the country who wouldn’t be able to practise medicine in spite of getting entry into MBBS courses, following the norms set up by the state and undergoing courses in colleges approved by the NMC. MCQ testing would not be the ideal method of testing the skills and acumen of the students,” it stated.
The IMA further said India witnessed a surge of new medical colleges due to the central government’s willpower and commitment and in the last six-seven years, more than 300 new medical colleges have started.
A national exit test for a licence to practise will defuse the entire effort of the central government of opening up all these new medical colleges, it said.
The NExT for licence will lead to frustrated medical students on the verge of becoming doctors but denied a practice, which would discourage aspiring students from joining medical colleges over uncertainty, the doctors’ body said.
Ultimately, all new medical colleges would be deprived of students and forced to close because without establishing a uniform medical education standard, a common national exit exam for licensing had been forced upon the students, it added.
The statement said the IMA and its medical students’ network are deeply concerned about NExT being inflicted unilaterally on the nation.
“The whole exercise of NExT has been a grossly one-sided affair without listening to the legitimate concerns of the medical students and the profession. IMA rejects NExT in toto for its anti-students content,” the association said.
“Under these circumstances, we appeal to the central government to intervene and instruct NMC to reconsider the proposal for NExT,” the statement said.
Source: PTINational, News