IMA opposes MBBS exit exam

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has written to the ministry expressing reservation regarding an exit exam for MBBS graduates, even if it is voluntary. Instead, IMA is mulling over proposing that the health ministry and the MCI adopt a single exit exam for all medical students which could replace the final year MBBS exam conducted by various colleges and universities.

Senior doctors and officials pointed out that proposing something that was not doable often led to the proposal being scuttle such as the proposal to combine a licensing exam with the final year MBBS exam. Many countries including the US, the UK, Australia, China and Thailand have licensing exams which are separate from the final exams for a medical student to become a graduate. 

To address concerns regarding the quality of doctors being produced, the ministry had proposed a common exit exam for students of private and government medical colleges, at a meeting with representatives from the IMA as well as the Medical Council of India, the regulatory body for medical education. 

IMA general secretary Dr KK Aggarwal said that the IMA supported a common entrance exam, the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) as a way to ensure quality. "This was proposed by the health ministry, favoured by the MCI and also has the support of the society at large. So the government should work to make this happen," said Dr Aggarwal.

"An exit exam, even if it is voluntary, will create two kinds of doctors, those who have passed the exit exam and those who haven't. Those who have passed it will be considered better doctors and the others will be treated as inferior. That's not good for society," said Dr Aggarwal explaining why IMA opposed the proposal. He added that it would be unfair to make students appear for their final MBBS exam as well as an exit exam. "If the exit exam can become the final year MBBS exam, plus the licensing exam and also serve as the test for admission into post-graduate courses, we welcome it,' said Dr Aggarwal. 

"The pattern of test is driven by objective and purpose of conducting a test; a test such as final MBBS examination is designed to assess a candidates knowledge, skills and attitudes attained at the end of training and this is followed by a period of internship. It is only after completion of internship that the attributes to practice medicine can be assessed by a licensing test or exit test for registration as a medical practitioner," explained Dr Bipin Batra, executive director of the National Board of Examination which conducts several national level exams including the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination, a screening test for foreign medical graduates to be allowed to practice in India. 

According to Dr Batra, a ranking test, such as an entrance examination, is designed to separate the grades of high performers from middle order and others for the purpose of entry to post-graduate courses. The test design and content for a qualifying vis-a-vis competitive examination are entirely different. "Major countries for medicine such as USA, UK, China and, Thailand all have licensing examinations for practice of medicine for the medical graduates," he added.

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