The demand for a percentile-based evaluation of the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE) rather than a percentage-based one is gaining momentum since a dismal pass percentage in the qualifying exam prevents many medical graduates from studied MBBS abroad from practicing in India. According to the Association of MD Physicians, which had first approached the Supreme Court and is now approaching the National Medical Commission (NMC) with the said demand, the change would enable more of the eligible to work in India, which is required given the pandemic scenario.
Regulations require that to practice in India, individuals holding medical qualifications equivalent to MBBS from recognized medical colleges outside India clear the FMGE exam. The Supreme Court laid down the FMGE guidelines back in 2004 and are followed even today.
The qualifying exam is known for being notoriously tough. AMD estimates that the number of foreign medical graduates awaiting recognition in the country runs up to 30,000. FMGE is held twice a year and not more than a couple of thousand candidates end up clearing it. AMD stated that 17,789 doctors appeared for the exam in August 2020, and only 1,197 passed, with the minimum score of qualifying being 150 out of 300.
Doctors have pointed out a deliberate design in making it impossible for them to qualify FMGE. Their argument is supported by opaque practices like the absence of revaluation, lack of provision to see answer script and unavailability of previous year question papers. All the other exams, including NEET and NEET PG have a percentile-based evaluation, while this is the only exam with a percentage-based system, hence the demand that the same yardstick is applied.
A top Indian physician commented that FMGE mirrors the state of medical education in India. “Over 15 lakh students take undergraduate NEET for only 80,000 medical seats. Many of the rest end up going to countries like China, Mauritius and Russia, where medical education is cheaper. This entire process is only leading to projection of artificial shortage of doctors, which in turn is aiding medical colleges to increase their fee,” he explained. AMD has now approached the National Medical Commission with the matter. “With the upcoming FMGE exam just around the corner on 4th December 2020, we have asked Secretary NMC, Dr RK Vats to expeditiously consider our demand for the benefit of for 30,000 foreign doctors, who are likely to be affected by this decision. Just like NEET PG 2021 has been postponed right now, the FMGE can also be postponed till decision is reached,” saidDr. Rajesh Rajan, President Association of MD Physicians.