Indian Medical Association writes to NMC highlighting concerns about NExT

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New Delhi: The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has written to the National Medical Commission (NMC) stating that the implementation of the NExT without proper evaluation would jeopardise the affordability and accessibility of medical education and urged it to reconsider certain provisions.

The NMC has sought comments from all the stakeholders on the implementation and preparation of conducting the National Exit Test (NExT) by filling up the feedback form by February 7.

The stakeholders have also been requested to go-through the NMC National Exit Test Regulations, 2023.

The doctors' body said bringing in the NExT defeats the vision of the prime minister and government of affordable and accessible medical education by seriously hampering the survival of medical institutions in underprivileged communities.

"We cannot afford to train doctors and deny degree to practise," it said.

The association further pointed out that currently, uniform standards of medical education across all academic institutions do not exist and testing the entire country with one test would not be feasible.

"Using the same exam to test the basic minimum required for licensing and highest standards required for post-graduate entrance assessment is completely illogical," it said.

The IMA further stressed that the NExT cannot be conducted both as a licentiate exam and a PG entrance exam, as the focus of the licensing exam should be on assessing the minimum standard while that of the PG exam should be to select the most meritorious students.

The suggested format of an MCQ-based test will only decrease the attention and interest of students in classes and clinics and help in the mushrooming of coaching centres that are already threatening the medical education system in the country by patronising only the rich and affordable classes, it pointed out.

This will also seriously hamper the academic and clinical skills of the students, it stated.

As and when the NExT gets planned, the IMA asked for extensive discussions with it and other stakeholders.

It further stated that the establishment of a passing criteria that strike a balance between accessibility and the preservation of academic rigour needs to be considered.

The initiation of comprehensive stakeholder consultations, followed by a trial period to address potential concerns and the adoption of an assessment methodology that ensures equitable evaluation accommodating the diverse demographics of the student body should be dome, the IMA added.

Any change in the medical exam system has to be from a fresh batch after proper notification and making them understand the pattern clearly, it highlighted.

"The implementation of NExT without proper evaluation of its potential benefits, limitations and impact on medical education is gross injustice to medical students because even after completing the course, they would be deprived of their right to practise medicine.

"Adequate technical infrastructure, faculty training and support are required in all medical institutions across the country. Limited access to resources may hinder the equal distribution and adoption of NExT across all medical colleges. In light of these stipulations, we assert that NExT should not proceed until these prerequisites are duly satisfied," the IMA stated.