FMGE disappoints medical students again; experts, students weigh in on the matter 

The examination involves questions for 200 marks in the clinical section and for 100 marks in the pre-clinical section
What is happening? | (Pic: EdexLive)
What is happening? | (Pic: EdexLive)

The ambitions of a vast majority of Indians studying medicine overseas have been dealt a huge blow by the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) yet again. Only 7,781 of the 38,535 students who appeared for the latest round of FMGE — held across the country in December 2023 — have cleared the screening test, stated a report in The New Indian Express.

Though the pass percentage has risen by around 10% compared to the July results, the number of students failing to clear the examination remains worrying.

According to Silvi Sunil of the All-Kerala Ukraine Medical Students and Parents Association (AKUMSPA), the FMGE aspirants continue to face the same old issues.

"The situation is such that the students can't openly come forward to take up the matter as they fear being targeted by vested interests in the health department at the national level and in the medical community," Silvi said.

While the examination is supposed to be a screening test for students who have just passed their undergraduate examination, the questions set are of a postgraduate level, said Dr Sanjay Mukundan, Joint Secretary of the Association of Foreign Graduated Physicians (AFGP-Kerala).

The examination involves questions for 200 marks in the clinical section and for 100 marks in the pre-clinical section, he pointed out.

Same issue?
"Similar issues had cropped up between 2003 to 2005. The students had then approached the Supreme Court, and thereafter, a regulatory body comprising representatives of the Medical Council of India (MCI), National Board of Examination (NBE) and students was formed," Dr Sanjay said.

After the regulatory body drew up a set of guidelines, the pass percentage went up to 75%, he said.

"However, that was just for a year or two. The situation has gone from bad to worse," he said.

Step-motherly treatment
His association has been sending representations to various bodies, seeking justice for the students who are being meted out a step-motherly treatment because they went abroad to do MBBS.

"If the students who have done MBBS in India are asked to write the FMGE, there is no doubt that they too will give a shoddy performance. The students have failed by just one mark or two! And these are students who have done very well in their MBBS final examinations," stressed Silvi.

Echoing that sentiment, Dr Sanjay said, "Even doctors working at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have agreed to the fact the question papers for the test are very tough. They say even they would fail to clear the paper!"

Silvi pointed out that there is no other examination in India which does not have a revaluation facility.

"The FMGE doesn't have that option. So, that points to the fact that the National Medical Commission wants the students to fail."

Dr Sanjay said the NBE had placed a proposal which said the screening tests need to be conducted by the respective universities.

Up for NExT
Meanwhile, the students have been saying they are ready to write the proposed National Exit Test (NExT) instead of the FMGE.

"But that too doesn't seem to be forthcoming as some vested interests in the medical fraternity don't want NExT to be implemented. Our children are ready to write NExT. Let them compete against those completing MBBS from India," Silvi said.

She wondered why students who have done their undergraduate courses in India are going in large numbers to Russia, the UK and other countries if overseas medical education is poor.

Looking at numbers
Pass: 7,781

Fail: 30,046

Absent: 693

Total: 38,535

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