THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Students and doctors alike are opposing the quality check proposal of the government in the form of the National Exit Exam,(NEXT), for undergraduate medical students. It is being seen more as an attempt to impose three year’s of compulsory rural service (CRS) rather than a quality check on those who pass the MBBS course. Voices of opposition were seen all across the state of Kerala.
“If the Center is truly concerned about the quality of medical education, then it would not have proposed short-term courses like Bachelor of Rural Health (BRHS) Service which will produce half-baked doctors and the proposal to allow AYUSH doctors to prescribe drugs used in modern medicine,” said Dr P Jathin, President of Kerala, Medical Post Graduates Association.
“We have strong objections against the amendments being made in the MCI Act for this purpose. Once we successfully complete MBBS course, the government is now saying that we have to undergo one more test to practice, which is not justified,” he said.
Medical Council of India (MCI) state representative,Dr K Mohanan speaking about the association’s opposition to the government proposal said,” At the last council meeting, there was stiff opposition to the proposal. It is an absurd decision since this was proposed at a time when the eligibility test for those who are completing MBBS outside the country was scrapped. He, however, welcomed the idea of NEXT for admission to post graduate courses and compulsory rural service.
Terming the exit exam as a stupid move on the part of the government, State Secretary elect, IMA, Dr N Sulphi said “Students are screened at various levels – pre clinical and clinical – through qualifying exams and final MBBS exam and rigorous one year internship. Why did the Centre think that they don’t have standards after these exams? If at all the standards have fallen, the government and MCI are responsible as they allowed the mushrooming of medical colleges without minimum standards.” He felt maintenance of standards of education would be better accomplished by going in for a common examination for government and private medical colleges.
The medical fraternity is also in opposition to the allowing of 50% quota for doctors working in health services for postgraduate courses.
In Kerala, the public service exams conducted for posts in Directorate of Health Service and Directorate of Medical Education happen once in a while. Thousands of MBBS doctors – who are willing to join the government sector – are unable to join because of the inefficient PSC recruitment system. A major portion of PG seats available will now be taken away from these MBBS doctors, added Dr Jathin.
Speaking of recruitment of doctors at the existing 87 rural health centers of Kerala, Dr. Jinesh, a health activist said 2,850 students complete MBBS course every year in the state, and it would be a difficult task to depute them for compulsory rural service.
Meanwhile, the state unit of the Indian Medical Association has also come out in opposition to the introduction of NEXT as the qualifying exam for MBBS graduates as doctors and to secure registration for clinical practice.
The government proposed NEXT could be a benchmark for students and is meant to take the place of NEET for postgraduate medical admissions, recruitment for Central Health Services and the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE).The IMA in a statment to the press on Tuesday, called it an unfair measure, as it was meant to sit on judgement against students who were coming through the national qualifying NEET test and had also completed their MBBS course as set by the Medical Council of India.
The Association stated that by promoting NEXT as an examination to test medical calibers, the government was turning away from the existing realities of infrastructural delays, faculty shortages and lack of academic facilities.
It said that a strong agitation against the Centre’s proposal would be organised by bringing together the entire medical fraternity as well as students. It plans to submit a mass petition signed by medicos in Kerala to the Centre on January 11, stated the Medical Association