The COUNTRY’s supreme medical education regulator has proposed that final-year medical students from China and Ukraine who could not complete their practical training due to the pandemic or war be allowed to take the Medical Graduate Examination Abroad (FMGE) – a screening test that foreign medical students must pass in order to practice in the country.
Students who pass the exam will then need to complete a two-year internship to be eligible for permanent registration to practice medicine in the country.
This will be a one-time relief granted due to unforeseen circumstances, as proposed by the National Medical Commission (NMC).
Currently, foreign medical graduates must complete their training and a one-year internship at the university where they are enrolled in order to sit for the FMGE examination in India. They must then complete a one-year internship in India as well in order to obtain permanent registration.
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“The relaxation will only be applicable for one year, so students should refrain from attending classes in these countries this year, even though China now allows very few students to return. Some of the Chinese students received a online internship completion certificate, how can this be accepted. The two-year internship will help fill gaps in clinical training,” a senior official said.
Relaxation is unlikely to help many students as FMGE is notorious for its low pass rates. Only 16.5% of students who sat for the exam in 2020 passed it, according to data provided by the National Board of Examinations which conducts the selection test.
The proposal was submitted by the undergraduate medical council of the National Medical Commission (NMC) by order of the Supreme Court. The proposal states that first and second year medical students, who joined their college after November 2021, can reapply for NEET to apply for admission into Indian colleges. These students, unlike third and fourth year students, cannot accept a transfer to universities in other European countries.
New guidelines for foreign medical graduates that came into effect in November 2021 state that students must complete their entire training and internship at the same university.
With the 2021 NEET council delayed due to the pandemic, some of the freshmen who had shown up for NEET in the same year opted to sit for the council.
Although the proposal does not mention it explicitly, third- and fourth-year medical students will be allowed admission to colleges in other European countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan that offer Indian-standard courses. .
About 18,000 medical students returned from Ukraine after the war began in February. There are nearly 65,000 students in India – mostly from China and Ukraine, but also from the Philippines – whose education has been cut short due to the new standards.
Another official said, “We cannot accommodate so many medical students in India. We have a total of 90,000 MBBS seats and there are so many people further up the merit list who may not have been admitted, so how can we give them the seats?
No relief for students in the Philippines
Although relaxations have been granted to final-year medical students from China and Ukraine, around 10,000 students who were studying in the Philippines are still left behind. Two groups of students who joined courses in the country after the new guidelines on foreign medical graduates came into force in November 2021 will not be eligible for the FMGE screening test.
Indeed, one of the conditions of the new guidelines was that the course be equivalent to medical courses in India over 5.5 years or 54 months. Medical courses in the Philippines are conducted over four years, followed by a two-year basic biology degree course.
The NMC has stated that the duration of the BS biology course cannot be considered part of medical training.