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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 April 2024

Doctors' body urges National Medical Commission to stall exit test for graduates

The Indian Medical Association asked the apex medical regulatory authority to stall the plan to introduce NEXT until adequate technical, faculty and other support infrastructure are in place in all of the country’s medical colleges

G.S. Mudur New Delhi Published 07.02.24, 06:53 AM
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India’s largest body of doctors has opposed the apex medical regulatory authority’s plan for a national exit test (NEXT) for all medical graduates, saying such a test would be unfair given the non-uniformity of medical college infrastructure across the country.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Tuesday asked the National Medical Commission (NMC) to stall the plan to introduce NEXT until adequate technical, faculty and other support infrastructure are in place in all of the country’s medical colleges.

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The NMC, the regulatory authority for medical education and practice, plans to introduce NEXT, an exam that graduates from all medical colleges and universities across India will need to pass before they practice medicine or pursue postgraduate courses.

The IMA has written to the NMC that uniform standards of medical education across all academic institutions do not currently exist. “Testing the entire country with one test would not be feasible,” the IMA has said in the letter to NMC chairman B.N. Gangadhar.

“Using the same exam to test the basic minimum requirements for licensing and the highest standards for postgraduate entrance assessment is completely illogical,” the IMA said. “NEXT cannot be conducted both as a licentiate exam and as a PG entrance exam as the focus of the licensing exam should be on assessing the minimum standards required while that of the PG exam should be to select the most meritorious students.”

The IMA has pointed out that 349 medical colleges across the country had received notices from the NMC in 2023-24 for deficiencies in faculty and 40 medical colleges had been derecognised over the past two years.

IMA national president R.V. Asokan said it would be unfair and unjust to impose a single nationwide exit test in a country where the quality of education in medical colleges is likely to vary widely.

“The NEXT effectively imposes the burden of ensuring a uniform quality of medical education on the students,” Asokan told The Telegraph. “The burden should also be taken up by medical colleges — all medical colleges need to ensure they have adequate resources for quality education.”

The IMA has also expressed concern that the proposed multiple choice question format for NEXT will decrease the attention and interest of students in classes and clinics while in medical colleges and drive them to coaching centres to prepare for the test.

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