Statistics of Indians pursuing under-graduate medical degree from foreign universities, required to complete their mandatory internship in India has shown a dip of 80% from 2005 to 2015. The National Board of Examinations has revealed the numbers stating that there is an 80% drop in number of Indian medical graduates, who are required to pass the compulsory screening test conducted by it.
As a result of which students are suffering as they cannot work as doctors and are not even graduates till the time they don’t clear the test. There are many students who have making desperate attempts to clear the test for long, even spending lakhs of money on coaching only to clear the screening tests.
The rule has been framed in the Indian Medical Council Act, 2001 under which Indian citizens who pursue their UG degrees abroad will have to undergo a one-year internship in any medical college recognised by the MCI. For this, they are required to pass a screening test which is held twice every year. The screening test is organised in English in June and December. The usual format is a 300 multiple-choice question, and a student is required to score a minimum of 50% to pass it.
There are few foreign medical graduates who opine that the test is very difficult. One student who completed his medical degree in Ukraine in 2012 implied in his statement that many questions are from the PG medical test level. There are also new questions every time which appears to be out of the MBBS syllabus. However, the students have never been able to challenge it as the test is conducted online and there is no question paper.
The foreign medical graduates students association also allege that this is purposefully done so that students don’t go outside to study from India. It is to discourage the practice so that students can study here in private medical colleges and pay the high fee. A foreign medical education costs Rs 25 lakh in comparison to what private college’s fee of Rs 1 crore.
According to a media report, the medical education standards abroad are as good as it is in India. “This is also done to ensure a high standard of doctors practising in the country,” says Dr GR Ravindranath, general secretary, Doctor’s Association for Social Equality (DASE), who also agrees that most students prefer foreign destinations because of the exorbitant fees private colleges here charge.
Another reason for this is that there are not enough medical colleges here, say doctors. “Every year around 6 lakh Indian students want to study medicine. But there are only about 412 medical colleges in the country, in which only about 52,000 students can study. For the rest, medical education remains a dream,” Dr Ravindranath added.
Dr K Senthil, president, Tamil Nadu Medical Council in addition implied that there are candidates waiting for as long as five-six years to clear their screening test. MCI is strict about this test and there is also a general belief that Indian medical education is better that foreign education.
The National Board of Examinations officials have denied these claims. An expert committee has submitted its report to the health ministry stating that 11 question papers from 2013-2015 indicate that 52.78% (questions) were of “low difficulty level” and 42.22% of moderate difficulty. While 47.27% were considered vital, 38.13% were termed essential, and 14.6 was “desired knowledge”
The National Board of Examination executive director Dr Bipin Batra said to TOI that the test had no negative marking and almost 90% of students who graduated in the last four years cleared the test in three attempts. Since 2002, at least 22,500 students have cleared the screening test. “The number of students clearing the test in the first attempt is low. That is because many of these students study in a different language. The public health priorities of that country are different from ours. Reorientation takes time but when they do that many clear the test,” he said.