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    NEXT exam as a level playing field

    • 1/10/2023 6:12:41 PM
    • 0 Comments
    • ABHISHEK SOOD
    • NEXT Exam 2023

    NExT to offer a level playing field to Indian and foreign medical grads.

    If the format of NExT is based on the Indian medical syllabus, it will not be easy for FMGs


    The draft regulations of the National Exit Test (NExT) has been released by the National Medical Commission (NMC) with a view to “bring uniformity in the summative evaluation” of medical graduates across the country. The exam, which is expected to replace NEET PG, will serve as a common qualifying final year MBBS exam in addition to being a screening exam for foreign medical graduates (FMGs) who want to practise in India.
    NExT will be conducted in two separate exams defined as ‘Steps’. 

    While Step 1 will be a theoretical exam in CBT/online mode and the questions will be one or more than one type of MCQ covering subjects of III MBBS/Final MBBS, 

    NExT Step 2 will be a practical/clinical and viva voce examination covering seven clinical subjects/disciplines.
    As per the draft regulations, 

    NExT Step 1 regular exam will be conducted in the second week of December and will conclude in the second week of January. The internship period will be from February 1 to February 28 of the following year; NExT Step 2 regular exam will be held in the second week of March till the first week of April. PG admission will be held between May to June and the session to start on July 1 after the declaration of results on June 30.

    A senior faculty member from Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi, on the condition of anonymity says, “The exam is most likely to be conducted in December 2023. While the exam would be tough for Indian medical students including those in private medical colleges where they do not have good faculty, it may pose to be an even greater challenge for the FMGs. Earlier, the Foreign Medical Graduate Exam (FMGE) was tailormade for students returning from Russia, China, Ukraine, Kazakhstan etc, but if the questions in NExT are based on the standards of the Indian medical system, competing may not be easy. In the FMGE, the pass percentage was only around 10-15%, hence students with less exposure and lower merit overseas, are not likely to pass the exam.”

    A senior faculty member from Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi, on the condition of anonymity says, “The exam is most likely to be conducted in December 2023. While the exam would be tough for Indian medical students including those in private medical colleges where they do not have good faculty, it may pose to be an even greater challenge for the FMGs. Earlier, the Foreign Medical Graduate Exam (FMGE) was tailormade for students returning from Russia, China, Ukraine, Kazakhstan etc, but if the questions in NExT are based on the standards of the Indian medical system, competing may not be easy. In the FMGE, the pass percentage was only around 10-15%, hence students with less exposure and lower merit overseas, are not likely to pass the exam.”

    “The FMGs will have to score a minimum of 50% in NExT Step 1 in order to be eligible for internship in an institution in the country. This will in fact standardise the health care across the country,” says Professor Dr Somashekhar SP, chairman - Medical Advisory Board, Aster DM Healthcare - GCC & India and global director, Oncology, Aster International Institute of Oncology.
    According to the faculty, Step 1 with its MCQ format, is necessary for grading candidates as per their ranks in the PG programmes. It is intended to discourage rote learning as clinical case scenarios will be the exam pattern.

    So far, Indian students were content in the belief that their final year MBBS would not count towards their PG specialisation since a separate NEET PG exam was being held. “But with NExT coming up, students will get more serious about their final year MBBS exam which will also serve as an entrance exam for the PG programmes. This will improve the quality of doctors as a result,” says Dr Manoj Andley, director professor in the Department of Surgery, Lady Hardinge Medical College, Delhi.

    The exam will be similar to USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination), to evaluate both the theoretical and practical skills of medical graduates, the faculty explains. It will not eliminate the need for coaching classes, though students, including the FMGs will also take coaching for their practical exams through simulation labs, he adds.

    “NExT-2 being a practical exam, will be conducted at the level of the university (not all-India level as NExT-1). Students will be eligible to appear in NExT-2 exam after their internship, hence they will have one year of internship to prepare for it. It will be a pass or fail exam, and unlike NExT-1, will not carry any score or marks,” Dr Soma Shekhar adds.

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