The health ministry is actively considering introducing a national exit examination for medical professionals to make sure they are suitable to practice as doctors.
It will be a qualifying examination in each discipline of health to be cleared by doctors who want to practice in more than one state. It will evaluate the outcome of training and the proficiency attained after the completion of graduate or post-graduate medical courses.
At present, medical students can practice anywhere in the country immediately after graduating from any part of the country and registering with Medical Council of India (MCI) or state medical councils.
Students acquiring medical degrees from institutions outside the country, however, have to clear a screening test conducted by the national board of examinations to become eligible for MCI or state council registration.
Now, the government plans to extend the screening to students graduating from Indian medical colleges as well.
Health ministry officials said the move was in tune with the provisions of the proposed bill on National Council for Human Resources for Health that call for screening tests to determine worth of medical grads before issuing them licences to practice as doctors.
Indian Medical Association (IMA), however, is strongly against the exam. “This is absolutely uncalled for. There is already a screening test to admit students. Any student who clears MBBS from any university is competent to practice. Exit exams will only create more confusion and shortage of medical professionals,” secretary Dharam Prakash said.
Health ministry officials countered, saying the exam would ensure maintenance of standards in medical profession. “Even though the syllabus for medical education is the same for all boards, the quality of education varies from states and colleges. There is a need for some standard below which a medical student cannot be allowed to practice,” an official said.
Given the shortage of doctors in the country, the ministry is thinking of restricting grads with poor grades to their respective states. “There will be a cut-off mark set at minimum standard. For instance, students getting below 50% may be allowed to practice only in the states from where they have passed out,” the official said.