“Missiles flew over my head, now they say my certificate is fake”: FMGs accuse NMC of discrimination

“When will I become financially independent?” asks a protesting FMG, adding, “NMC is surveying mental health but cares nothing about how they are affecting our mental health"
“Missiles flew over my head, now they say my certificate is fake”: FMGs accuse NMC of discrimination
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“No clarity. No uniformity. I have been waiting for months for my internship and NMC’s whims have been traumatising me,” says a Foreign Medical Graduate (FMG) from VN Karazin Kharkiv National University who spoke on the condition of anonymity.  She passed the FMG Examination (FMGE) in January this year but is still awaiting the commencement of her internship. “NMC metes out a step-motherly attitude towards us,” she adds.

This sentiment is echoed by many FMGs, who feel they are treated differently compared to Indian Medical Graduates (IMGs). 

Dr Arvind, another FMG from Ukraine who also cleared his FMGE in January, says, “I feel like we are stuck between two countries.” Despite passing the screening test, Dr Arvind and many others are still waiting for their internships to begin. He returned to war-torn Kharkiv to complete his course as instructed by the NMC, but his compensatory certificate is now invalid as per the June 7 notice by the NMC.

The notice in question
On June 7, the NMC announced that certificates from foreign medical universities compensating for online classes would no longer be accepted. They explained that it has taken this decision as “many FMGs are maliciously obtaining compensatory certificates from their parent universities for the online classes carried by them.” 

This decision sparked protests outside the NMC office in Delhi, with FMGs demanding that the notice be withdrawn. They argue that instead of scrapping the provision, the commission should take responsibility for verifying the documents submitted by students. 

“I would see missiles fly over my head and yet chose to stay in Ukraine just so that I could complete my MBBS on time. But now they are saying all that was for nothing and all our certificates are fake?” exclaims Dr Arvind in exasperation. 

Without the compensatory certificate, FMGs will be forced to undergo two to three years of Compulsory Rotating Medical Internship (CRMI) to obtain permanent registration.

“This is so unfair. I have my travel history, passport and everything. How can they generalise and invalidate all certificates as fake?” asks the anonymous FMG, adding, “Why not ban going abroad for medical education altogether if they are going to harass FMGs so much.”  

She also points out that this year, owing to the controversial surge in the ranks in NEET-UG 2024, more students might opt to go abroad. “Those who scored around 630 this year might end up being FMGs since affording private colleges in India is impossible.”

Nothing new for FMGs

Discrimination against FMGs in India is not new. 

This group has historically faced bias and is often considered inferior to those studying in Indian medical colleges. This perception persists despite the fact that several students leave private medical college seats to study abroad due to the exorbitant fees in private colleges.

Commenting on the hostility around FMGs, Dr Sumaira Ahmed, General Secretary of All India Medical Students' Association - Foreign Medical Student’s Wing (AIMSA - FMSW), says, “There is a history of this cruelty from NMC’s side. It started right from the time I started. One day they wake up and make a rule without thinking.” 

She also highlights the lack of uniformity in guidelines within state councils. The NMC notice does not clearly specify how many years of internship FMGs should complete, leading each state council to interpret it differently. “This will result in FMGs in different states doing different numbers of internships irrespective of the compensatory certificate, which already happened in my case.”

The extra years of CRMI would push the timeline to complete their MBBS to nearly a decade, almost double that of Indian Medical Graduates. “When will I become financially independent?” asks the anonymous FMG, adding, “NMC is surveying mental health but cares nothing about how they are affecting our mental health.”

Several medical associations have shown solidarity with the FMGs’ cause. 

On June 13, the General Secretary of the Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA), Dr Sarvesh Pandey, along with the All FMGs Association (AFA) met with NMC officials and the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board (UGMEB) to discuss the FMG issue. Through his social media account, Dr Pandey informed that he has submitted a written representation and that the FMG issue will be discussed at the “UGMEB COMMITTEE” meeting on June 18, 2024.

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