THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the Centre sticking to its proposed National Exit Test (NEXT) for medical students and replacing Medical Council of India (MCI) with National Medical Council (NMC), medical students in the state have shot off letters to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Health Minister J P Nadda urging them to revoke the decisions.
Students of around 20 of the 34 medical colleges in the state have written to the trio via the Indian Medical Association-Medical Students’ Network (IMA-MSN) which is coordinating the agitation. Some students have sent individual letters, IMA-MSN state chairman and State Action Committee chairman R Sabari Nath said.
“Students of the other medical colleges will send letters within a week,” Sabari said, adding they were also planning an agitation against Centre’s adamant stand.The students’ letter read: “As per the proposed National Medical Commission Bill, Chapter 4, students are forced to write a licentiate examination, NEXT. The proposed test is expected to be a multiple choice question (MCQ) examination which will also act as the PG entrance examination. An MCQ exam cannot determine the standard of a medical student who should have practical knowledge to excel in the profession.”
“What will the doctors do if they do not clear NEXT even after studying for five-and-half years? Should we seek other jobs after studying MBBS because we did not clear NEXT?’’ the students asked the President, PM and the Union Health Minister. Sabari said: “Medical students undergo a four-and-half year course and a year of internship. Throughout the course, students study 18 subjects, clinical and non-clinical, and face about 30 theory exams along with practical, viva and oral exams which are conducted by recognised medical universities as per MCI instructions and guidelines. Another exam for a practising licence cannot be accepted.”
He alleged the move to introduce NEXT will bring down the standard of modern medicine.
“No student of any other professional course has to undergo such a licentiate exam. NEXT will never improve the standard of medical education in India,” Sabari said.
“If implemented, the health of Indians will be in jeopardy and future of the Indian health system will be destroyed. Research-based studies can be implicated. Instead of an MCQ Examination like NEXT, a uniform national final year MBBS examination after course period can be implemented,” Sabari said.
On NMC, the IMA, as well as its students wing, said it took away the right of state governments and universities to participate in the regulation of medical education and practice.