The Medical Council of India (MCI) had proposed to amend the screening test regulations, 2002, making it mandatory to qualify National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) to pursue foreign medical courses as certain medical institutions or universities of foreign countries have reportedly admitted Indian students without proper assessment or screening. The amendment has been approved by the health ministry. The new order specifies, “A common national entrance exam — National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) — has been made mandatory for admission to all medical courses in the country. Indian students can also pursue medical education abroad and have to qualify a screening test called Foreign Medical Graduates Exam (FMGE), for registration, to practice in India after obtaining primary medical qualification (MBBS) overseas.”
The result of NEET will be treated as the eligibility certificate for the medical aspirant, provided that the aspirant fulfils the eligibility criteria for admission to the MBBS course prescribed in the Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 1997. Since, the government did not have any control over the quality of medical education given to medical students abroad, this step is crucial. The government has a National Exit Test (NEXT), which is mandatory for students who want to practice medicine. Also, medical students are required to have a no-objection certificate from the government if they are planning to go abroad for medical certificates. However, in case they fail to clear NEET, they will not be given a no-objection certificate.
The decision will drastically impact the process of getting MBBS admissions in universities abroad. The admission procedure will be tougher than before, but the quality of students enrolling for MBBS in foreign universities will improve. Students who will be pursuing MBBS abroad will be much more focused from now onwards. Therefore, increasing the passing percentage of FMGE, that is mandatory for medical students to clear after completing their MBBS course abroad.
The step was much needed for maintaining the standard of the medical education among Indian medical aspirants as the students will require extra coaching and skills to clear the test. Medical practitioners have for long argued that EAMCET with its 50 per cent pass marks was more challenging than NEET’s qualifying criterion of 50 percentile. Thus, in a 720 mark NEET question paper, a student would require just 140 to qualify. The marks required to clear the test is quite low and if a student is unable to score the minimum required marks then he or she will not be considered eligible for practicing medicine in India.
The new regulation will increase the competition for students appearing for NEET this year, although. The unethical act of buying medical admission abroad with money will also be challenged by this step. Since, only those aspirants who have qualified the NEET can go aboard, it will also be easier for students to clear FMGE upon their return.
Depending on their merit or spending power, Indian students till now have been pursuing MBBS course across various countries. However, the quality of the medical practitioners, returning to India, has always been doubtful, apart from those students who got opportunity to study in some of the most elite foreign institutions on merit basis. The modulation will eventually improve the quality of doctors returning to India after pursuing MBBS from abroad as they will be judged on the basis of their capabilities from the very beginning. The medical skills and knowledge of these students will in turn increase the FMGE results.