Fresh push for optional exit exam after MBBS
New Delhi, June 1: The apex medical regulator is preparing to recommend to the Union health ministry a common exit examination for medical graduates across the country, but the test will initially be optional, primarily offering a quality stamp to those who take it.
The Medical Council of India (MCI) has adopted a five-year-old controversial plan to introduce the exit exam to compensate for the diversity in the quality of medical colleges.
"Our academic sub-committee, executive committee and general body have accepted the plan. We're now in the process of recommending it to the health ministry," Ved Prakash Mishra, the chair of the MCI's academic sub-committee, said. "The exam will be optional to begin with," he added.
The MCI had first proposed such a test in 2010 to ensure uniformity in the standards of MBBS degrees, as reported in The Telegraph on September 4, 2010.
But the plan had encountered opposition, with sections of doctors and some medical institutions questioning the need for an additional test when all colleges functioned under the regulations of, and were approved by, the MCI.
"We don't like this plan to impose a new exam on doctors," said Gokilambal Rangayan Ravindranath, general secretary of the Doctors' Association for Social Equality, an NGO.
"Clinical skills can't really be tested through a single examination," Ravindranath added. A better way of seeking uniformity would be to add faculty and infrastructure in medical colleges deficient in these, he said.
But the MCI is keen to introduce at least an optional exit exam. "We have a common entrance examination for MBBS seats but at the exit point, we have no checks at all," said Chingelput Varadapillai Bhirmanandham, vice-president of the MCI executive committee.
But not all in the MCI agree. ", We need to ask, do we really want to add another to that burden The MCI has proposed that medical graduates who opt to take the exit examination and clear it will receive their registration (license to practise) from the MCI, and would not need to seek registration from state medical councils as most medical graduates currently do.
But some doctors caution that registration under MCI or state medical councils makes little difference because India currently lacks the regulatory mechanisms to keep checks on doctors registered in one state practicing in another.
"I would strongly advocate the plan of a mandatory exit examination," said G Pradeep Kumar, professor of forensic medicine and former dean at the Kasturba Medical College, Manipal (Karnataka). "Doctors registered in one state can even now easily practice in another."
The results of rigorously-conducted mandatory exit examinations, Kumar told this newspaper, would also help the health sector, medical education regulators, as well as consumers identify high quality medical colleges. " Doodh ka doodh or paani ka paani ho jayega (the truth about some medical colleges may come out)."