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National Exit Test 2023 for medical students to be likely conducted by AIIMS, health ministry nod awaited

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The National Medical Commission (NMC) has sought the Union health ministry’s approval for the National Exit Test (NEXT) to be conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi this year, ThePrint has learnt.

NEXT has been envisaged as a single examination to replace the final year MBBS examinations in medical colleges across India, the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for post-graduate seats (NEET-PG), and the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) — the licentiate test for those who complete their MBBS abroad, to practice in India. The first NEXT exam is likely to be held later this year.

“The NMC has written to us asking for allowing AIIMS to organise this year’s NEXT and a decision will soon be taken after weighing the options,” a senior official in the medical education division of the ministry told ThePrint.

As of now, the final year MBBS examinations are conducted by respective colleges, while the NEET-PG and FMGE are conducted by the National Board of Examinations (NBE), under the director general of health services in the health ministry.

Senior functionaries in the health ministry told ThePrint that the NMC was first considering getting the NEXT organised by the NBE.

“However, it was found that the examination body may not be in a position to conduct a test like NEXT, which is going to focus more on clinical learning of MBBS students rather than just the theoretical parts,” said a second official in the medical education division of the ministry on condition of anonymity.

The official added: “AIIMS, on the other hand, maybe in a better position to organise the examination as its standard of test is considered high and [it] is capable of conducting simulation-based tests.”

When contacted, Dr M Srinivasan, director of AIIMS, New Delhi said that a final call in this matter was to be taken by the ministry. “But we are in a position to take the responsibility,” he told ThePrint.

ThePrint also reached NMC chairman Dr S. C. Sharma over phone for comment. The copy will be updated once a response is received.

Doctors’ associations have meanwhile raised concerns about this year’s NEXT, flagging issues like different timings for MBBS completion in colleges across the country and the possibility of those who did not clear NEET-PG last year being allowed to sit for NEXT this year.

According to government estimates shared with ThePrint, nearly 75,000 students are expected to sit for NEXT this year. The exam is likely to be held in two parts — one which will test students on theoretical knowledge and the other which will test their clinical skills — officials said.

In a letter sent to all medical colleges on 26 May, the NMC had asked the institutes to share details regarding the completion of the final year MBBS course, saying that it was required to finalise the date and regulations related to this year’s NEXT. ThePrint has a copy of the letter.

Some representatives of the bodies that represent doctors, meanwhile, said that it may be an uphill task to pull off the single examination, which will double up as the final year graduation test for MBBS students, as well as rank them for post-graduate seats in various medical colleges.

“I see the political will in the government to get NEXT started from this year itself, but it is going to be quite a challenge, because the timeline of final year MBBS course completion varies widely across the country and even the states, especially since the academic disruption caused by the Covid pandemic,” said Dr. Aviral Mathur, president of the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association.

Dr. Rohan Krishnan, chairman of the Federation of All India Medical Association, also said that there was major confusion on whether those who have not cleared NEET PG last year will be allowed to appear in NEXT this year.

Students can appear for the NEET-PG more than once.

Krishnan added: “We do not know yet whether this year NEXT will be held only for final year MBBS examination or will also be held as a replacement for NEET-PG.”

“It would help if the NMC comes out with all the details related to this year’s NEXT in order to answer the uncertainties around the test,” he further said.

Source by : The Print

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