Exit exam for MBBS students is necessary, say experts
NEW MOVE Will NEXT guarantee quality healthcare and better doctors in the country? WHAT’S IN STORE
The exit exam for medical students at the MBBS level proposed in the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill 2016 is essential, say health education experts. A draft of the bill prepared by the health ministry recommends the MBBS exit exam, combined counselling at the undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate levels and reservations of up to 50% postgraduate (PG) seats for medical officers.
Section 10E, to be added to the Indian Medical Council Act 1956, proposes a uniform national exit test (NEXT) be conducted for all medical institutions at the undergraduate level. NEXT will replace the uniform entrance exam at the postgraduate level. Suggestions on the feasibility of the draft were invited till January 6.
An exit test is “an essential tool for meeting the basic objectives of quality and safe physicians for the society,” given the vast diversity of medical institutions in the country offering medical education of variable standards, says Dr Bipin Batra, executive director, National Board of Examinations.
The test is likely to be at the level of an MBBS final exam to assess the basic knowledge and skills of a medical graduate.
According to Dr Arun Kumar Agarwal, former president, Delhi Medical Council, the concept of an exit exam was mooted about six years ago to improve the quality of fresh MBBS graduates in India.
He is also of the opinion that this exam should replace the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) as well as the Foreign Medical Graduates Exam (FMGE) as the candidates should not appear for such examinations more than once during the MBBS phase.
Asked about the likelihood of an exit exam replacing the existing exams or entrance tests, Dr Batra says, “It will be an ideal scenario if one exam in the early phase of internship is used as the exit test and the performance is used as a grading tool for ranking medical graduates for entry to PG residency programmes.” The same exam can be applicable for foreign and Indian medical graduates. The United States Medical Licensing Examination administered by Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates is a similar test used for licensing as well entry to residency programmes for domestic as well as foreign medical graduates.”
There will be no impact on foreign medical graduates if the exit exam is introduced. There will be no change for their licensing requirements. “Currently, they write the FMGE screening test, which in all likelihood will be subsumed as the exit test, bringing parity between the Indian and foreign medical graduates,” adds Dr Batra.
Implementing NEXT will also put pre-PG coaching institutes at an advantage, say doctors. Will that be a good thing? Not likely, says Dr Manish C Prabhakar, president, I ndian Medical Association Young Doctors’ Wing. Instead of churning out better doctors, India will produce more of medical graduates with less clinical skills because of the burden of too many exams.
Only 2,700 to 3,000 vacancies exist in primary and com- munity health centres in rural areas, while more than 60,000 MBBS graduates clear the exam every year, says Dr Prabhakar. “Therefore, majority of the students will spend time in coaching classes or in the library or studying at home; in a country where the doctor-patient ratio is already so low. NEXT is an indirect way to pressurise the doctors to go for the rural postings,” he adds.
The proposed bill also seeks to introduce common counselling for UG and PG medical students. This includes 15% all-India quota seats at the UG level and 50% at the PG level, which will be conducted by the Directorate General of Health Services. Counselling for remaining seats including private colleges and private/ deemed universities at both levels will also be conducted.
National Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Technology already have common counselling.
Experts say such a concept for medical students will be a good idea. Medical graduates across the country have applauded the Central government’s proposal to conduct common counselling and the Delhi Medical Association has also supported it, apart from the Supreme Court upholding it.
Academic experts believe UG, PG and super specialty levels candidates need counselling to allay their anxiety about participating in multiple seat allocation processes conducted at institution or deemed university levels. “It will also ensure fair play and equity of access of seats to all aspiring candidates on a common platform,” adds Dr Batra.
It will be ideal if NEXT also doubles up as the NEET PG i.e. one national level for exit of MBBS and entry to PG, he adds. The wastage of seats due to multiple admission processes running concurrently and variable criterion used for admissions will be minimised and boost chances of candidates getting admission only on merit.
A s D r A g a r w a l says, “Common counselling is the only solution, otherwise there will be lot of confusion among students. It will also help those seeking admission at the PG level.” Birla Institute of Technology and Science ( BITS), Pilani, declared as deemed-to-be university under Section 3 of the UGC Act, is inviting applications for its entrance test. Admissions to all the integrated first degree programmes of the institute at its Pilani, Goa and Hyderabad campuses for the academic year 2017- 18 will be made on the basis of a computer-based test BITSAT-2017.
Admissions will be conducted for BE, BPharm and MSc programmes in various specialisations. For all courses except BPharm, candidates should have passed the Class 12 examination from a recognised Central or state board or its equivalent with physics, chemistry, and mathematics and adequate proficiency in English.
For admission to BPharm, candidates should have passed the Class 12 examination from a recognised Central or state board or its equivalent with physics, chemistry, and biology and adequate proficiency in English. However, candidates with physics, chemistry and mathematics can also apply for the pharmacy programme.
O n l y s t u d e n t s wh o a r e appearing f or t he Class 12 examination in 2017 or who have passed Class 12 in 2016 are eligible to appear in BITSAT-2017.
The three-hour test consists of four parts. Part I : physics; Part II: chemistry; Part III: (a) English proficiency and ( b) logical reasoning; and Part IV: mathematics or biology ( for BPharm candidates). All questions will be objective type ( multiple choice questions); each question with choice of four answers, only one being correct choice. Each correct answer fetches three marks, while each incorrect answer has a penalty of one mark.
There is no time limit for individual parts of the test. The candidate can go back and change any of his/her answers among the 150 questions. Deadline to apply for BITSAT-2017 is March 6, 2017. For more information on the test and the application process visit http://www.bitsadmission.com/ Re s u l t s o f the Common Admission Test ( CAT) were declared earlier on Monday and as many as 20 candidates scored 100 percentile. Akshay Mehndiratta, Rahul Sharma and Yash Choudhary are among those who got the perfect score. How did they prepare for the test?
S h a r i n g h i s s t r a t e g y, Mehndiratta, an I I T Delhi alumnus, working with EXL Analytics i n Gurgaon as a consultant, says he managed to achieve a perfect work-life balance with studies. “I regularly took test series and mocks over the last one year. My focus for the last four months was on improving my weakness in the verbal ability section. I didn’t get nervous on the test day and kept calm. I kept telling myself that CAT is not a test of knowledge but a test of aptitude,” he says.
Mehndiratta cleared CAT i n his second attempt and is hoping to make it to IIM Ahmedabad. While giving the test, his target was to attempt 31 questions in verbal ability, 25 questions in data interpretation and logical reasoning and 29 questions in quantitative ability. “But the idea was to attempt them with accuracy.”
For another 100 percentile scorer, Yash Choudhary, a final year student of electrical engineering at the College of Engineering, Pune, acing CAT was all about practice. “This was my first attempt at CAT and I am delighted that I got a perfect score. I took about 45 mock tests in the last six months before the test. My plan for the test day was to first identify the doable questions and focus on them till the end of the paper even if it meant leaving some questions unanswered. Data interpretation and quantitative ability were all about practice and quant was very scoring. I scored 99.9 in verbal ability, 99.86 in data interpretation and 99.96 in quantitative ability,” Choudhary says.
Delhi’s Rahul Sharma feels getting 100 percentile was all about handling the pressure with ease. Sharma, who works with management coaching centre Career Launcher, has a PG diploma in management from IIM Ahmedabad and took the test for the third time. “My idea was to believe in my plan and focus on the test series. The test had no surprises and was on the lines of CAT 2015. But I was well prepared for any changes this year,” he says.
An exit test is ‘an essential tool for meeting the basic objectives of quality and safe physicians for the society,’ say experts.