NMC to relook at draft PG regulations, allow improvement of NEXT score every year
New Delhi: The upcoming National Exit Test (NEXT), the gateway to PG medical admissions as envisaged by the National Medical Commission (NMC) will allow candidates to appear for improvement examination every year.
Even though the NEXT score will be valid for three years, candidates not satisfied with their scores will have the option to improve it by appearing for the test again the next year, Dr. M. K. Ramesh, the President of the PG Medical Education Board of NMC has recently confirmed while speaking to Medical Dialogues.
"Whatever score a candidate gets it will be valid for three years. If a candidate wants to improve they can sit for the examination in the next year," Dr. Ramesh recently told the team.
"The original score will remain and it will be valid for three years, if the candidates are happy with the score, they can retain that. Otherwise, they can always go for the improvement," he added.
The NExT, a common exit exam envisaged by the government to standardize medical education across the country, was proposed by NMC as a part of the bill passed in the year 2019. The exam is set to replace the NEET PG and FMGE exams.
The NExT exam would not only serve as a licentiate exam for those who have done MBBS in India as well as abroad but would also serve as a gateway to admission to the postgraduate broad-speciality medical education in the country. In other words, MBBS graduates will have to complete their final internship to earn the license for practising as a doctor in India. Besides, Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs) have to qualify through the exam after it becomes operational in order to get registration with State Medical Councils for practising as a doctor in India.
In addition, to get admission to MD, MS, DM, MCh programs, the doctors will have to qualify for the NExT instead of NEET PG once it initiates.
Recently, releasing one of the most explicit documents for conduction of MD, MS, PG Diploma, DM and MCh programmes at medical institutions across the country, the NMC issued the draft on Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations, 2021. One major feature of the regulations pertains to the selection of PG students mentioning the conduct of NExt, its score and continuation of NEET PG as the gateway for admissions to MD, MS, PG Diploma, DM and MCh courses in India.
According to the draft regulations, the common Final year MBBS exam, NExt will be the basis for admission to the postgraduate broad speciality courses in each academic year, once it becomes operational and till such time, the NEET PG examination will continue.
Moreover, the NExt score obtained by the candidates will be valid for a period of 3 years from the date the person has become eligible to be granted a license to practice as a medical practitioner, for admission to postgraduate broad speciality courses. After the expiry of the validity of the marks, the medico will have to appear again for the test and qualify to be eligible for admission to postgraduate broad speciality courses.
However, medical organizations such as the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had raised objections to several aspects of the Draft and in a Press Release, IMA had pointed out towards the lack of clarity regarding the NEXT exam and the need for attempts to improve the score towards PG medical entrance.
Calling the rules of allowing candidates write the exam only once in three years, IMA had earlier mentioned, "NMC is still in a dilemma and has not given any clarity on the proposed NEXT exam. However, this notification says when a student writes his exam, the mark he scores will be valid for three years and he can rewrite the exam only after three years. This is a great injustice step to the students. As it has proposed to conduct the NEXT exams in 2023, the NMC should come out with the pattern and type of examination after having wider democratic consultation with the student's body, faculty, States, and largest professional body IMA."
Since the NMC had put the draft in the public domain and invited suggestions on it, there were various suggestions from various medical associations on the regulations as well as the conduct on NEXT exam. A meeting was also held with the IMA officials including Dr. J.A.Jayalal (IMA chief) and HSG Dr. Jayesh Lele and the President of the PG Medical Education Board of NMC and they discussed at length about the objections and suggestions regarding the PG Draft Regulations.
The issues that were discussed include time-duration for the District Residency Programme (DRP), Dual Degree, Eligibility for Super Speciality courses, minimum stipend for resident doctors, NEXT exam, etc.
When the issue of the NEXT exam came to be discussed, NMC clarified that the candidates will be given the scope to write the improvement examination every year.
When the Medical Dialogues team contacted Dr. Ramesh, he confirmed it and said, "The original score will remain and it will be valid for three years, if the candidates are happy with the, they can retain that. Otherwise, they can always go for the improvement."
"NEXT is still in the process of being developed. With this, all the examinations including the licentiate exam, exit exam for MBBS graduates and exit exam for FMGs will be combined under NEXT. So, we are trying our best to frame it. It will probably come into force from 2023," he added.