Published: 23rd September 2023
“License to Kill”: Should TMMA’s stance on zero percentile cut-off be given a thought?
The MSc Medical Association on Friday, September 22, brings forth various points on how such a decision can be impactful and change the course of medical education in the country
The release of a statement of the reduction of the qualifying percentile marks for the admission of the medical postgraduate courses for NEET PG 2023 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), on September 20, Wednesday, has amassed mixed reactions from the medical fraternity.
While several think it to be a step to provide a chance for doctors to pursue their specialisations, the decision has come to scrutiny, given it might steer in a direction where the country might witness an increase in the number of under-qualified doctors, thereby dropping the quality levels of medical output in the country.
The MSc Medicine Association, India, sent an array of tweets on the social media platform ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) calling out the Government’s arbitrary decision to make zero percentile as a criterion for eligibility. The post read, “#ZeroPercentile in #NEETPG2023COUNSELLING
Students with negative marks qualify?
Further, a study found out that the zero percentile cut-off by the Ministry shows that 14 candidates who scored zero marks in the exam and 13 students who scored negative marks, will also qualify. It is to be noted that the total aggregate mark is 800.
The post by the association is directed at a candidate’s failure to score positive marks but qualified for admission in medical post-graduation courses. “It means the candidate who do not have sufficient knowledge and in fact no knowledge after passing MBBS is now eligible to do PG. How did such candidate pass MBBS?!” the post reads as it questions the candidate’s prowess of becoming a specialist when they barely have grasped their MBBS course.
A feather in the cap?
The thread goes on to critique other medical associations who lauded the Government for such a decision. A letter issued by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), dated September 20, reads, “There is another feather in the cap of National IMA HQs, getting glorifying success in its endeavour for reduction in the percentile to NEET PG examination to zero.” TMMA questions how such a feat be considered a “feather in the cap” as it seeks to jeopardise the entire system.
TMMA also critiques the stated reasons and why IMA thinks this is a big achievement for the medical fraternity. According to a letter dated September 13, the association states as to why they should be granted the relaxation. They argue that doctors have worked courageously and devotedly during the pandemic and that granting this relaxation will encourage more doctors to fill vacant seats, particularly in non-clinical categories such as physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, and pharmacology.
The association questions whether the arguments are reasonable as many of the graduates who have appeared for NEET PG 2023 might have failed to complete their internship due to COVID-19 and probably faced severe limitations when it comes to learning, thereby affecting their knowledge and learning.
There already has been a disagreement between the two factions, medical professionals and the MSc/PhDs where the medicos want total dominance in the area of non-clinical studies and disagree that people with a non-medical background have the capability of teaching medical students. The TMMA concludes that such a decision would now give the poorest of students to choose a non-clinical course with a lower cut-off, making such a decision discriminatory as it invalidates the MSc/PhD academicians and researchers.
With the reduced cut-off, many of the private medical colleges have increased their fee structure with a definite motive of profitability. The TMMA has called out this move saying that this will pose a serious threat to medical education, and with no check to this, it might not be beneficial to students either.
Also, the recent announcement by the National Medical Commission (NMC) on September 20, about the WFME (World Federation for Medical Education) recognition puts to question the recent decision that threatens the country’s medical excellence and its efforts to strive for excellence, with zero percentile cut off for admission into postgraduate studies.
TMMA’s stance brings to question several offshoots that such a decision can have on the country’s reputation with a decision. Would this bring relief to students or further reduce the standards of medical education?