The move comes in the wake of concerns over the quality of doctors being produced in the country.
Initially, the government intends to create a separate 'all-India chapter' for doctors qualifying the exit exam. Doctors currently get themselves registered with the state chapter of Medical Council of India (MCI) and have to get their registration transferred if they intend to practice in another state. Those clearing the exit exam will be able to practice anywhere in the country.
Eventually, students not passing the exit exam could even be held back from post-graduate studies, an official source privy to the developments told TOI.
The draft proposal prepared by the ministry suggests using the existing Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) as a voluntary exit exam. FMGE, a screening test recognized by the MCI, was introduced in 2002 as a qualifying examination for Indian students holding medical degrees from other countries and intending to practice medicine in India.
The health ministry is now considering using FMGE as a benchmark for all MBBS doctors.
"Initially, we are planning to start with an incentivizing system. Those who qualify this exam will be incentivized with a national registration number under MCI, allowing them to practice anywhere in the country," the official said.
The move will also enable the government to use the exit exam result for ranking colleges.
Government data shows a huge disparity between the average pass marks in government and private colleges, as well as in different states. For instance, the result of All India Post-Graduate Medical Entrance Examination 2015 showed Andhra Pradesh had an average pass percentage of 84.92%, Chandigarh had 73.56% while West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh had 53.58% and 51.56%, respectively. The pass percentage in Assam, Jammu & Kashmir and in foreign institutes was even lower at 46.38%, 37.84% and 31.41%, respectively.
Similarly, AIPGMEE 2014 results showed that based on 50% score as minimum qualifying criteria, 22,802 candidates from government institutions passed the exam, compared to a mere 8,862 candidates from private colleges. From foreign institutions, only 1,188 passed.
"How students fare in all-India PG exams is also an indicator of the quality of doctors being produced," the official said.
The government is also of the view that while there is a need to ramp up capacity for post-graduate doctors to have more specialists, data showed that there was an urgent requirement to monitor the quality of MBBS doctors entering practice.
Data showed that each year, about 100,000 doctors took post-graduate medical examinations across the country. However, only around 25,000 made it and the rest were available for service as MBBS doctors. Estimates show that nearly 100,000 MBBS doctors are available for active service at any given time.