Indian students who study medicine overseas after November 18, 2021, may not be granted a licence to practise medicine in India when they return. The Indian medical education body, the National Medial Commission (NMC), has enacted new rules that prevent them from taking the Exit Exam and practising medicine in India.
These rules include a number of requirements that are very impossible for any Indian citizen with a foreign degree to meet. For example, one of the requirements states that a foreign graduate can only practise in India if he or she is registered with the appropriate professional regulatory organisation in the nation where the degree was earned.
According to legal and health experts, no country will approve such a registration, even if the candidate has a recognised degree, because it also requires a work visa. They argue that if a few candidates obtain a work visa and the necessary registration with the foreign regulatory agency, why would they travel to India?
“After getting registration to practice in another country, if the candidate comes to India, he will have to first clear the National Exit Exam and then will he get a licence to practice in India,” Likhitha Yanmandala, a medical student, who has challenged these norms in the Delhi High Court said.
He added, “When India doesn’t allow foreigners permanent registration and right to practice in the country even if they do their MBBS from here, why will other countries do so?”
When the old regulator, the Medical Council of India (MCI), regulated foreign graduates, there was no such situation. They used to just check if a candidate had a genuine foreign degree. On September 24, 2020, the MCI was superseded by the NMC.
The National Medical Commission (Foreign Medical Graduate Licentiate) Regulations, 2021, were drafted when the NMC was established and went into effect on November 18, 2021. For the first time, these Regulations impose some new conditions on students who study undergraduate medical courses abroad that are equivalent to MBBS in India.
The duration of the course and the medium of instruction are two further characteristics that health and legal experts deem peculiar. According to the regulations, the course must last at least 54 months and the only medium of instruction must be English.
These constraints prevent degree holders from Russia, China, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and other countries from returning to India to practise because the medium of instruction in all of these countries is their local language rather than English.
“Very few colleges in these countries offer courses in English. Students, who come to India to study here, take language crash courses for a few months,” a student studying in Russia said.
Countries with English as a language of instruction, such as the Philippines, do not have 54 months of undergraduate coursework since they educate in two parts: BS Biology and MD. The NMC recently stated that BS Biology will not be recognised.
“Among all these conditions, the biggest stumbling block is the one which mandates Indian doctors with foreign degrees to get registered with the regulatory or the competent bodies of those countries from where the degrees have been awarded,” a health expert associated with MCI said.
Thousands of students have already gone abroad to study medicine after November 18, 2021, he said, noting that between 8,000 and 10,000 students go to countries such as the Philippines, Bangladesh, Georgia, Nepal, Ukraine, Armenia, Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan each year to pursue their medical dreams.
Despite the fact that the new restrictions have been in effect for more than four months, the majority of students and their parents are still unaware of their implications for their future professions.
Now that they are beginning to comprehend the ramifications of such restrictions, their hopes are placed on the Delhi High Court to rule in their favour, or else their careers and hard-earned money will be squandered.
Yanmandala has sought that these restrictions be overturned, claiming that the NMC Act lacks such provisions and that the NMC is imposing conditions that go beyond the Act’s scope.
He claims that while MCI recognised medical education provided by international medical universities and prescribed standards for admission to such universities, it had never imposed such “obnoxious” conditions.
“Earlier, a candidate used to take eligibility certificate from MCI to study in foreign universities and after completing the course, the candidate used to come back to India and pass a screening test to become a doctor. The MCI also had a list of countries, universities and colleges where valid medical education is being offered. This acts as a safeguard for students going abroad,” he said.
After the Delhi High Court issued a notice to the NMC in response to Yanmandala’s petition, the NMC defended its regulations, claiming that the purpose of the conditions is to maintain the highest standards of medical education while also ensuring that candidates going to Foreign Medical Institutes receive the best teaching/training possible, “so that they could return to the country and provide outstanding medical treatment lo the public at large.”
“The intent behind the same being that candidates obtaining graduate medical qualifications from foreign medical institutes shall finally practice medicine in India, thus, must obtain a minimum standard of knowledge/competence which is expected to be achieved by a candidate undergoing MBBS course in India. This is for the sake of maintaining a uniform standard of medical practice in India,” the NMC has said.
Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.
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