The National Exit Exam (NEXT), the latest ‘test’ addition in the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill 2016, introduced by the Union Health Ministry may now have to be cleared by medical students before they can officially use the title of ‘ doctor’. The test is expected to help improve quality of medical education in India and to level the field of medical education, which is increasingly being transferred into private hands.
The most important contribution that this new introduction is expected make would be substitution of three tests, including “NEET for post graduate admissions, recruitment for central health services and the foreign graduate medical examination,” explained a central government official.
Calling it an outcome based test, the government official added that “The results of how students from individual colleges have performed in NEXT will be made public. If a college has over 90% students clearing the test, it will automatically act as an indicator. Students can make an informed choice while selecting colleges.”
The introduction of NEXT has been defined as a leveling exam, by Dr Pravin Shingare, Director, Medical Education and Research, Maharashtra who appreciating the move said, “How can we equate a student from X university with one from Y University? NEXT will bring about standardization.”
A professor commenting on this latest test introduction by the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill,2016, said an inspection was merely an infrastructural rating, the outcome of NEXT would be a tangible parameter so as to determine the quality of the college.
Dr Devi Shetty, a former member of the Medical Council of India, on the other hand felt the draft’s provisions were suitable for an “economy of excess” which has an adequate number of doctors.
However, Medical Officer reservation seems to have evoked the sharpest reactions from the medical fraternity.
“The brightest people should be allowed to pursue post-graduate studies. We are here encouraging them to take a break in their education when, ideally, they should specialize before they turn 30 years old, “said Dr. Shetty.
Dr. Shingare remarked saying, “In the last 20 years, 100 medical officers took up post-graduate studies every year. But none of these 2,000 doctors ever returned to the government system.”
Dr Gautam Sen, a former MCI member, in sharp criticism of the government move said, “This is nothing but reduction in meritocracy. We already have reservation at undergraduate levels and post-graduate levels. What is the need to introduce another quota?” He said the government should introduce the complete Medical Council reforms instead of such piecemeal efforts. “The bill has been cleared by Parliament. So why is the government still not introducing the entire bill?” he said.