Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Foreign Medical degree is proving costly for Indian Students: Only 21% passed FMGE
NEW DELHI: The obsession of earning a foreign medical degree is proving costly for Indian students. Thousands of newly-anointed Indian doctors, who completed their medical degrees abroad, are failing en masse for the past four years in clearing the mandatory screening test that allows them to practice in India. Only 21% (around one in five) students who received foreign medical degrees and appeared in the screening test qualified this year.

In 2011 and 2010, only 26% medical students qualified, while the corresponding figure was only 16.2% in 2009.

Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Friday that the test has been prescribed to ensure that "citizens of India who obtain medical qualifications from universities or medical institutions outside India have acquired adequacy of knowledge and skills as per MCI (Medical Council of India) norms and to ensure that such students have secured proper standard of medical education in foreign countries."

Data released on Friday shows that 14,476 students appeared for the test in 2012, with only 3,150 clearing it. In 2011, 13,270 students appeared and 3,576 cleared it. In 2010, 10,115 students appeared for the test — conducted by the NBE ( National Board of Examinations) — and only 2,680 passed muster. And, in 2009, 6,262 students appeared for the crucial exam and just 1,017 cleared it.

Azad said, "The existing policy entails that an Indian citizen possessing qualification from any medical institution outside India has to qualify the test for getting provisional or permanent registration with the MCI or any state medical council." He added, "The test is conducted by NBE and has proved to be effective in maintaining the standards. There is no proposal to review the existing system of screening tests."

India recognizes post-graduate medical degrees from only five countries — Australia, Canada, the UK, the US and New Zealand. Doctors from these countries are exempted from taking the test and are allowed to practice in India. Similarly, screening test rules were amended last December, allowing exemption of a person seeking provisional and permanent registration if s/he holds an undergraduate medical degree from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US.

India has been mulling the idea of doing the same with students who have finished medical education from Japan, France, Germany and other European nations. "This move will see a large number of Indian doctors return to India for good. Many will come on sabbaticals for a short stint in teaching or even practice in public or private hospitals. India is facing an acute shortage of doctors and we are trying to remove all barriers for Indian doctors to return home," a ministry official said.

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