India’s medical education regulator is for the first time proposing to make it mandatory for MBBS students to complete their MBBS course within 10 years of taking admission. This, said top officials in the National Medical Commission (NMC), is aimed at removing non-serious candidates from the field
Aruna V Vanikar, president of the undergraduate medical education board at the NMC, told this newspaper that the proposal is part of the draft on the National Exit Test (NEXT) that is being sent to the Union health ministry for approval.
NEXT is the final year national level MBBS exam that will also be used for scoring students for PG courses in medicine. It is set to be held from 2023.
“Though it is not a regular feature that medicos take very long to complete their degrees, there are many instances across India like this, which include foreign medical graduates as well,” said Vanikar.
“Some universities even allow students to drop years and resume later after a gap.”
“The duration of MBBS course without internship is 4.5 years, so under no circumstance should a candidate take more than 10 years to complete the degree,” said Vanikar.
This will also mean that the regulator will not fix an age cap for candidates. Anyone who takes admission at any age can pursue the course within the specified period of time.
The minimum age to take admission in MBBS, however, is 17 years.
It has been open-ended till now
At present, once candidates get into MBBS through the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), there is no year limit to complete the basic degree.
National Exit Test (abbreviated as NExT) is a proposed examination for all MBBS students in India that is required to pass the final year and obtain a license to practice medicine. Admissions to postgraduate courses will be based on the merit of a candidate in NExT. Introduced by the National Medical Commission Bill 2019, NEXT will also serve the purpose of Screening Test for Foreign Medical Graduates who are now required to qualify Medical Council of India Screening Test (Foreign Medical Graduates Examination or FMGE) and will for admission into postgraduate medical courses. In January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also introduced the draft National Dental commission Bill that also called for National Exit Test after BDS for dentists in India.