Abysmal pass percentages haunt DNB doctors
New Delhi: In a striking revelation, the result summary of the DNB/DrNB final theory exam has pointed out that less than 20 percent of aspirants have cleared the exam in specialities including Nephrology, and Orthopaedics.
The pass percentage in specialities such as Hospital Administration, Otorhinolaryngology, Paediatrics, Pathology, Surgical Oncology, and Emergency Medicine is also not so good as less than 40 percent of the total candidates have cleared the exam this year, the data published by TOI has revealed.
Diplomate of National Board (DNB) is a Post-graduation degree having an equivalent value to MD/MS degrees. Doctors get awarded with the DNB degree after completing their three-year residency.
The National Board of Examinations (NBE) is the governing body that runs these DNB courses and awards degrees to candidates after successfully completing their PG residency.
On the other hand, Doctorate of National Board (DrNB) is a post-MD/MS/DNB super specialty degree having equivalent importance with Doctorate of Medicine (DM) and Master of Chirurgiae (MCh) degrees. These degrees in medical and surgical super specialties also get awarded by NBE.
As per the data revealed by TOI in a recent article, the pass percentage is below 50 percent in several other specialties including Anaesthesiology, and less than 60 percent of people pass in specialties including Microbiology, Nuclear Medicine, and Pharmacology.
Apart from these, the pass percentage in CardioVascular and Thoracic Surgery is 65 %, 63.46 % in Cardiology, 68.16 % in General Surgery, 63. 64% in Medical Oncology, 65.32 % in Opthalmology, 62.50 % in Physiology, 65.96 % in Psychiatry, 66.96 % in Radio Diagnosis, and 66.13% in Radiation Oncology.
However, Specialties including Paediatric Cardiology, Medical Genetics, Clinical Haematology, Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Paediatric Surgery, and Neonatology have a 100 percent pass percentage.
More than 90% people pass in Urology, Neurology, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and almost 90 % candidate clear exam in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (89.86%).
If the pass percentage of December 2020 is taken into account, then there is a major drop in the number of people clearing the exam in case of Orthopaedics, where the pass percentage dropped from 31.84 to 17.98.
The pass percentage of DNB Paediatrics has been consistently low over the last three exams as in June 2020 around 43.44% candidates cleared the exam, in 32.41 % cleared in December 2020, whereas 36.15 % people cleared the exam in June 2021.
TOI adds that the doctors had received assurances that taking the hardship and disruption during the COVID era into account, consideration would be given while conducting the exams and evaluating them. However, the students claimed that looking at the pass percentages, it is quite obvious that not only the paper was unreasonably difficult, but the evaluation process had been harsh as well.
On the other hand, the NBE officials put the blame of poor results on the poor preparation of the doctors during the COVID times.
However, those pursing their specialization in Orthopaedics pointed out that if COVID was the responsible factor, then the results would have been poor in all the specialties. However, in specialties such as Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dermatology, General Surgery, Opthalmology, Radio-Diagnosis, and Psychiatry, the pass percentage has been quite impressive.
Speaking to TOI regarding the matter, a resident doctor in Orthopaedics said, "DNB orthopaedics is quite high up in preference and so only people with a decent rank in the NEET PG exam get the specialty. Hence, it can't be that more than 80% of doctors specializing in orthopaedics are poor students. If the poor result is attributed to substandard training at the institute, NBE is to be held responsible for giving accreditation to poor-quality institutions. However, this cannot be true because some of the institutes which have seen zero candidates passing are among the best."
Already, the president of the Association of National Board Accredited Institutions (ANBAI) and the head of the department of orthopaedics and spine surgery in Ganga Hospital, Dr. S Rajasekaran has reached out to NBE regarding the matter and has urged for reevaluation before publishing the results especially if there is an abnormally low percentage in any specialty.
"We have also made a strong plea that at least 50% of the examiners must be from NBE institutions," he told the daily.
Speaking to Medical Dialogues regarding the issue, Dr. Rohan Krishnan, the President of FAIMA said, "This issue has been troubling the young doctors and that is why DNB is taking a back seat over the period of time and if the Government or NBE doesn't do anything to rectify these problems, people will stop opting for DNB courses. Even less than 20 percent passing percentage in Orthopaedics is very shameful because in MD/MS the passing rate is above 90 percent. The training is done right because those are all accredited hospitals giving DNB training. There are two things that need to be considered for this. First, usually, the candidates do not get their own centers. Further, it is also very shameful that some of the senior doctors have prejudices in their mind that these doctors are not studying well and they are not good in their studies because they chose DNB after not getting MD/MS."
When asked the reason for such poor results, he added, "It is very easy to blame the doctors but it is not the correct way of thinking at all. Some doctors have their own reasons to opt for DNB courses. When on one part Government is saying that MD/MS is equivalent to DNB and on the other hand when the passing percentage cannot even be compared, it becomes very confusing. The Govt must take proper steps and we should think whether we need to re-check the accreditation given to the private hospitals for running DNB courses. The course needs three years to complete, the pass percentage is so poor and also the wage that the doctors get is far lesser than the MD/MS doctors. So, if nothing is done people will stop choosing DNB courses."