FMGE Conundrum

Undoubtedly the most reverential profession of the society is that of doctors and medical practitioners, and thus quite obviously it is also one of the most sought after profession in the country. But the glitch is not every one is able to get admission in country’s top medical college due to immense competition, the result being many students seeking admission in medical colleges of other countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and China. There are 2 basic reasons behind seeking admission in colleges of these countries- 1. There are no entrance exams and stringent admission procedures. 2. These countries offer undergraduate programs equivalent to MBBS at far lower cost when compared to India.

Once graduated from the overseas institutions, the students are required to appear for Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE) — a mandatory screening examination conducted by National Board of Examinations (NBE) for starting medical practice in India. According to a report published in famous news daily, a mere 12% of candidates were successful in clearing the examination in the past 5 years. Moreover, according to Medical Council of India (MCI) and NBE, this percentage has rarely gone beyond 26%.

The significant lower percentage is a matter of concern and should be scrutinized meticulously. There are various reasons which can be attributed to it-

1. It can be argued that the exam is quite tough and it would be as difficult for Indian graduates to clear it as it is for FMGs. But Dr Bipin Batra, Executive Director NBE, has clearly rubbished the claims of it being extremely tough. He has also stated that FMGE when tested on MBBS students gave a passing percentage of 80–90. According to Dr Batra the exam is in conformance with MCI curriculum. He also said that the situation is not that bleak as 22,531 FMGs have successfully cleared exam in the past 14 years.

2. When seen from a different perspective, the situation is quite worrisome to say the least. It can also be argued that the institutions in these foreign countries are not at par when compared to their Indian counterparts in terms of curriculum. Dr K.V. Babu, a noted public health activist is of the view that MCI should provide assessment reports of these institutions to aspirants, so that a wise decision can be taken by the students.

Irrespective of what the reason is, there’s a greater threat that veils behind the FMGE results. MCI has not limited the number of attempts to appear in FMGE, thus numerous candidates repeatedly appear for this exam. The candidates who fail are not unemployed, but are either practising medicine on their own or working illegally as medical officers in the private sector. This poses even a greater threat to the already bleak situation of healthcare sector in India. With the country having 1 doctor for every 1700 people, the nation can’t afford to abrogate the healthcare condition further. Thus it becomes mandatory on part of MCI to take necessary actions to solve the FMGE conundrum.