Published: 14th July 2022
Is NEXT the solution to problems that foreign medical graduates face when they attempt FMGE?
The National Exit Test (NEXT) is coming, but will it solve the issues that Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs) face when they attempt the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) exam?
The National Exit Test, also known as NEXT, is to be conducted in January 2023. And apart from this, there are no other details known about the common qualifying examination which will replace both NEET PG (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test - Post Graduate) and FMGE (Foreign Medical Graduate Examination). And this has students and parents really worried while they remain divided on whether the exam will come as a boon or a bane, especially for Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs).
Joint Secretary of FMGPA (Foreign Medical Graduates Parents Association), Mohammad Sageer, says, "We are happy but are waiting for further details. We feel FMGs will be exempt from the discrimination of being treated differently when compared to Indian Medical Graduates (IMGs)."
By being treated differently, the Joint Secretary refers to the FMGE exam, for which, answer keys are not released, students are not allowed to discuss the contents of the exam plus, the exam fee (Rs 7,080) is much higher than the rest of the exams.
Additionally, Gaurav Kumar, a FMG who pursued his MD Physician course from Asian Medical Institute, Kyrgyzstan, is in favour NEXT because with one culminating exam for IMGs and FMGs, namely NEXT, it might finally bring the two on the same page.
A different take
The first point to note, as the National President of the Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) Dr Rohan Krishnan says, is that NEET PG is an entrance exam and FMGE is a screening test. So, can they really be combined? The reasons behind conducting both the exams are not the same and the syllabi too are vastly different.
In this context, Dr Krishnan questions, "Issues faced by FMGs are different from that of other doctors who are graduating from India. Therefore, the new NEXT exam might not entirely stand to be of benefit to FMGs."
Further, Rohan questioned, "How can someone who pursued their education from Russia and someone who pursued their education from AIIMS Delhi attempt the same qualifying exam?"
Issues over delay
What unites them all is the problems they have with the delay in announcement of the details pertaining to NEXT.
Dr Krishnan points out, "If the exam needs to be held in January 2023, the government should first finish the counseling process for all 2022 candidates at least five to six months in advance." Having said that, he added, "If the government will allott just one month's preparation for a new syllabus, it will be very difficult for medical aspirants."
The doctor also shares how several students have shared with him their grievances regarding the ambiguity of NEXT, plus, he too has reached out to the concerned authorities several times and requested them to share details as soon as possible. He added that if FAIMA notes any discrepancies or delay when it comes to NEXT, they will take the route of dialogue and if that doesn't work, they will protest.