Distressed over "unfair" regulations, Foreign Medical Graduates might resort to legal action

The notification issued on July 28 this year by the National Medical Commission has been termed "dauntingly unfair" by the Foreign Medical Graduates
Foreign Medical Graduates protest in front of the NMC | (Pic: Sourced)
Foreign Medical Graduates protest in front of the NMC | (Pic: Sourced)

The Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs) stated that the revised measures for the Compulsory Rotatory Medical Internship (CRMI) are "unethical" and "dauntingly unfair". They claim that they have been left in a fix. Here's why.

The NMC notice
According to a notification issued on July 28, 2022, by the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board (UGMEB) - National Medical Commission (NMC), students who completed their medical degrees from their respective foreign universities and qualified for the FMGE (Foreign Medical Graduate Examination) on or before June 30, 2022, would have to undergo Compulsory Rotatory Medical Internship (CMRI) for two years. This has not gone down well with them.

The NMC cited that these students completed their degrees by taking online classes and did not have a clinical practice. Thus to make up for the loss of training, they would have to opt for two years of CMRI instead of one, as was the case earlier. The notification added the NMC did not recognise the online classes and had only validated them due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has irked the students further.

The notice additionally states those students who have already been granted provisional registration before July 28 would also have to undergo two years of internship. This has become a bone of contention for the students of the 2015-2020 batch, as some had already completed a year of their internship and attained residency before the specified date.

Losing validation and jobs
"I completed my internship on November 1, 2021. On January 4, 2022, I received permanent residency in Punjab. But now my license has been revoked and I am asked to undergo another two years of internship," said Dr AK, a former student of Guangxi University in China, on the condition of anonymity. He added that doctors like him now stood at the risk of undergoing three years of internship.

This aside, the NMC also specified that students would be allowed to pursue their internships only at private institutions recognised by the regulating body. Due to this many students from the 2015 batch who completed their internships recently (after July 28) also lost the validity of their internships and would now have to start over.

A long period
Apart from the 2015 batch, all other FMGs are also upset with the two-year CMRI rule. "Students receive their medical degrees after 5-6 years, depending on the country. Then, the FMGE is very tough to clear in a single attempt. A minimum of seven years are over here. Now if two more years of internship are added, a student would receive a job after about 10 years," says Dr Shahroz Khan, a student from the Nantong Medical University in China, who is going to appear for FMGE this year.

Dr Khan states, "The period of the internship should be on par with the Indian medical graduates. Since the FMGE is conducted in line with all the NMC regulations and it is made extremely difficult, then why segregate us?" He adds that seats for a two-year CMRI would also be difficult to obtain, as seats in the medical colleges for FMGs were limited. "As such, what will happen when the next batch comes? Where will those students be accommodated?" he questions.

Money matters
Since the FMGs have been allowed to pursue their internships from private institutions only, they say that it costs them dearly. "In Delhi, the internship fee is about Rs 3 lakh," informs Dr Chandraveer Rathore, another former student of Guangxi University. He also alleged that though the NMC mandates that the interns be provided stipends, the medical colleges do not give them anything. 

"We work for about 12 hours a day without pay. But the college fee is collected on time. Many of us have student loans to pay back, and it is becoming extremely difficult to do so," he said. The other FMGs agree.

Protests and trauma
With all these issues on the table, the FMGs staged a protest outside the NMC office yesterday, November 30. "But it did not yield any results. The NMC is not ready to listen to the students," said Dr Armaan Bhupendra Chourasiya, President, of IFMS (Indian Foreign Medical Student) Welfare MCI Gurukul Trust, who led the protests and passionately stands up with the students.

"A student delegation was also not allowed to meet the officials. They were rude and stated that we were not doctors for them," Dr Rathore added. "With the uncertainty and unemployment resulting from the NMC notifications, students are suffering from mental trauma," Dr Chourasiya stated. And Dr Rathore hinted that they may resort to legal means if the NMC remains unsympathetic to their cause.

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