From next academic year onwards, there will be no separate entrance exams for medical students aspiring to pursue undergraduate courses in premium government institutions such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER). Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan informed earlier today that the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) will become the single examination for admissions to all undergraduate medical courses, including the ones offered by Institutes of National Importance.
The effort to move to a single examination system is part of government's efforts to overhaul India's medical education system through a recently passed National Medical Commission (NMC) Act. The government is also trying to get a draft document ready for the regulation of medical education fee structure. Since framing of guidelines for regulation of medical education fees come under the purview of the yet to be formed NMC, the government is getting a draft ready on medical education fee structure to aid NMC take an early decision as soon as it gets constituted.
The NMC Act 2019 had received President's nod on August 8. It was notified the same day. "Letters were sent on August 9 to all chief secretaries and state medical councils for nominating members to the medical advisory council (MAC) under NMC. Nominations have come from 22 state medical councils. 23 vice chancellors have also been nominated," Harsh Vardhan said.
Once the MAC is notified, nine members from State Medical Councils and 10 members from State/UT representatives will be selected as members of National Medical Commission. The draw of lots is scheduled to be held on October 14, 2019. The Advisory Council will be partially notified before the draw of lots, ministry officials said.
The NMC has the mandate for development and regulation of all aspects relating to medical education, medical profession and medical institutions. The Medical Advisory Council's role is to advise and make recommendations to the Commission. The Commission is to have four Autonomous Boards, namely Under-Graduate Medical Education Board, Post-Graduate Medical Education Board, Medical Assessment and Rating Board (MARB) and Ethics and Medical Registration Board.
The Ministry has already invited applications for the posts of chairperson of the commission, Presidents and members of four autonomous boards, members and secretary of the commission and the last date for submission of the applications is October 18. Presently, 72 applications have been received. The selection to the said posts is to be made on the recommendations of a Search Committee headed by Cabinet Secretary.
The efforts of the government are to constitute the NMC at the earliest so that some of major reforms can be implemented from the academic year 2020-21.
Highlights of National Medical Commission Act:
- A compact body selected through a transparent mechanism and representation of states and state councils in rotation. This will facilitate faster decision-making.
- Inclusion of members from diverse background for balanced policy prescriptions.
- Selected, one-time and full-time regulators will not have any conflict of interest.
- Separation of powers between the autonomous boards and the commission. Norms setting is also separated from conducting inspection and granting permission.
- The simplification of procedures is expected to spur growth in the number of UG and PG seats in the country, which will ensure availability of adequate and qualified medical professionals to cater to the healthcare needs of the country.
- A single entrance examination and common counselling for admission to medical institutions at UG level including INI like AIIMS.
- A common final year exam, that is, National Exit Test (NEXT) to assess the quality of medical education, which would also be the basis for PG entrance and as screening test. The students shall not have to appear in a separate exam for PG entrance and may focus on the UG subjects and internship.
- Indian students getting foreign degrees will have to pass through the same final year exam to get licence.
- Separate board to focus on every aspect of the medical education such as development of curriculum, standards of medical education, training of faculty and facilitation of research etc.
- Rating of the medical colleges by the Medical Assessment and Rating Board, which will encourage colleges to improve quality of education.
- Maintenance of live register for all registered medical practitioners. Separate registered for Community Health Providers.
- No requirement of annual renewal of the medical colleges.
- Guidelines for determination of fee and all other charges for 50 per cent seats in private medical colleges and deemed universities. Thus, such proportion of seats in such colleges would be available at reasonable price.
- The penal provision for non-compliant colleges would range from warning, monetary penalty, reducing intake, stoppage of admission leading up to withdrawal of recognition.
- A cadre of community health providers, especially for primary and preventive healthcare.