NMC likely to take a call on Ukraine returned MBBS students soon: IUSF
New Delhi: The National Medical Commission (NMC) is likely to take a decision regarding the future of the Ukraine-returned medicos, who had to leave their courses mid-way because of the war, within the first week of July.According to Indo-Ukrainian Student Front (IUSF), which represents around 18,000 Indian medical students who are enrolled in medical courses in Ukraine, the Apex medical body...
New Delhi: The National Medical Commission (NMC) is likely to take a decision regarding the future of the Ukraine-returned medicos, who had to leave their courses mid-way because of the war, within the first week of July.
According to Indo-Ukrainian Student Front (IUSF), which represents around 18,000 Indian medical students who are enrolled in medical courses in Ukraine, the Apex medical body has given such an assurance to them.
As per the Founder and National Representative of IUSF, Pulkit Pareek, NMC has told the Association, "The matter is under consideration in Commission. Decision will be uploaded in NMC website for public after finalization."
This comes after recently IUSF wrote to NMC urging the Commission to accommodate the Ukraine returned medicos in the Indian medical colleges.
"We request NMC to accommodate the Ukraine returned Medical Students in the Indian Medical Colleges," the association stated in the letter dated June 29, 2022.
Apart from this, IUSF also urged NMC to allow them "to do observation in Indian medical colleges" until the completion of the accommodation process. They also requested the Apex medical body for providing them with Transcripts, which is Compulsory for any International transfer.
"Please validate our online classes till the above process is going on. As the war is going on between Ukraine-Russia and it's not safe for us as Indian students to go there," further stated the letter.
"We request NMC to release Guidelines on Ukraine returned students as special situation requires special solutions," it added.
The war between Ukraine and Russia has put a question mark on the future of several Indian medical students, who are enrolled at different medical institutes in Ukraine.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that after rescuing the medical students stuck in war-hit Ukraine, now the Union Health Minister was contemplating the possible options for those students, so that they could complete their medical education in India.
Finally the Supreme Court directed the NMC for formulating policy within two months in order to grant temporary registration for those MBBS graduates who have completed their medical education abroad but were unable to fulfill the requirement of practical training in their parent institutes outside of India.
Crisis of Ukraine-returned medical students:
Even though this might solve the problems of students with incomplete clinical training, the crisis of thousands of Ukraine returned medicos does not end there. With NMC not recognizing online medical education, these students are unsure if their online classes would be taken into consideration when they apply for registration in India.
Recently MBBS students, who were evacuated from war-torn Ukraine, sat on a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar demanding admission to the country's medical colleges as a one-time measure.
They said there are approximately 12,000 students, barring those in the final year, and as there are at least 600 medical colleges in the country, each institution needed to accommodate only around 20 students.
No Uniform Guidelines:
It is true, some States such as West Bengal and Karnataka have taken a step forward for the process of including these Ukraine-returned medicos in the Indian medical colleges. Earlier, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee had said, "Altogether 422 students have returned from Ukraine to the state risking their career. We had asked the Centre to allow us to accommodate them at different colleges. But the Centre said they cannot help them. They are asking the students to go to Poland and Hungary. How can they spend so much money again?"
"A total of 23 sixth year medical students will be allowed to undergo internship at government medical colleges as per norms. At least 135 students — 43 fifth year and the rest fourth year — will be allowed to undertake Observing seat at different medical colleges," she had further added.
However, slamming such an announcement of the West Bengal Government, the NMC officials had earlier clarified that any decision regarding the Ukraine returned medicos must come from them. In fact they had clarified that even if the Ukraine-returned medical students undergo practical training in State-run medical colleges in Bengal, they would not be eligible for appearing in the FMGE screening test.
So, even though States are trying to include these medicos in the Indian medical colleges, there is no uniform policy from the Apex Medical body yet.
Referring to the situation, the Founder and National Representative of IUSF, Pulkit Pareek told Medical Dialogues, "They have been given temporary accommodation in Bengal and even Karnataka Government had given assurance to the Ukraine-returnees. However, such decisions have been taken at the State level only and they are not recognized by the NMC."
Problems regarding Online Medical Education:
Unable to go back to their parent institutes, thousands of medical students who came back from Ukraine are receiving education via online medium for the time being. However, they are unsure if these classes would be recognized by NMC, which had earlier clarified that online medical education would not be accepted.
Speaking about the matter, Pulkit said, "The situation in Ukraine is not stable yet. Although for the last one month it was better, now missile attacks have been started yet. So, even the parents are not convinced to send us back as no-one knows when the attacks might start again."
"The main problem with online study is that we are pursuing medical courses, where practical training is of prime importance. Besides, a major part of these students belong to villages and not the metro cities. So, they have to continuously deal with the network problems. I belong to Rajasthan, and sometimes the network service is not available for the entire state. This definitely creates problems for us. Besides, the parents are also worried regarding the future of the students, especially after spending so much on their education."
Referring to the issue of transfer to other European colleges, he mentioned, "We had also heard that the Government had been considering to transfer us to medical colleges in other European countries. However, it is NMC, which is the regulatory body and it can only operate on its guidelines that have been formed already."
"So, we had two options, either the Parliament passes a bill and allows special provision for us or the Supreme Court passes any directions in this regard. In fact, the Court had earlier issued directions to NMC regarding the clinical training of the FMGs. Later we came across a report which claimed the new guidelines would require the medicos to undergo two years of internship, the medicos will require to appear in NEET again. This would result in a situation where the duration of medical course would be of around 10 years," he added.
Pulkit also referred to other issues that have generated because of this ongoing crisis. Mentioning that some associations that claim to represent these Ukraine-returned medical students are collecting money for solving the problems, he added, "Taking advantage of the situation some people are trying to act on their political agendas. They are forming association, taking money from the students for organizing protests, registration of the association and creating posts. The money is being sent to their personal bank accounts and there is no governing body to oversee the situation. The students are also giving money in the hope of getting a solution of the crisis."
"Why do need to register if the situation resolves and the students get admitted to colleges?" he questioned.
Pulkit, who has completed his fourth year of MBBS further added, "Now our exams are over and the break is going on. However, by September, we need to know where do we need to go. Whatever the Government decides, it needs to take a call on the matter soon because the students are also extremely anxious about their future. If the NMC does not take a call they will be forced to take transfer somewhere else and when they will come back after completing their education, their degrees will be questioned.
While commenting on their future course of action, he added, "If the situation does not resolve, we might have to approach the Supreme Court and file a plea, since the situation of FMGs because of the war and Covid-19 are two different situations. So we need to file a separate plea. However, we hope that it does not come to that and we do not have to approach the court. We have our exams and studies as well and this will definitely create hurdles for our education."