The Union Health Ministry unveiled the draft Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill 2016 on December 29th 2016 (Thursday) according to which MBBS students will now be required to qualify the National Exit Test (NEXT) in addition to completion of five and a half year long medical course for becoming a doctor and obtain a Dr tag. The test is expected to create a level-playing field in medical education, increasingly becoming privatized.
A central government official said NEXT would improve the quality of medical education in the country and help benchmark students. It will be an outcome-based test that substitutes three tests, including NEET for postgraduate admissions, recruitment for central health services and the foreign graduate medical examination. 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.
Dr P Shingare, who heads the state's department of medical education and research, said NEXT is a good move and added that it will bring about standardisation. A professor said inspection by authorities can just rate the infrastructure of a college and only the outcome of NEXT can be a tangible parameter to determine the quality of that college. However, cardiac surgeon Dr Devi Shetty, a former member of the Medical Council of India, felt the draft's provisions are suitable for an economy of excess that has an adequate number of doctors.
Dr Shetty said that the brightest people should be allowed to pursue post-graduate studies. They are encouraged to take a break in their education when, ideally, they should specialize before they turn 30 years old. Dr Shingare said that 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 said that this is nothing but reduction in meritocracy. Reservation is already there at undergraduate levels and post-graduate levels. He questioned about the need to introduce another quota. He said the government should introduce the complete Medical Council reforms instead of such piecemeal efforts.
The bill also suggests that 50% seats in all government medical colleges should be reserved for Government/UT medical officers. The government has not yet finalized their decision on NEXT and it’s just a proposal. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) are asking suggestions and feedback from general public before they implement the MBBS exit exam (NEXT) and 50% quota in PG courses which must be furnished to the Ministry by 6 January 2017.