The draft National Medical Commission (Amendment) Bill 2022 seeks to introduce a fifth autonomous body – Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences, under the country’s apex medical education regulator, to conduct the National Exit Test (NExT). NExT is a nationwide screening test for doctors before they are registered with the medical council.

 

About the National Medical Commission

  • The NMC was constituted in September 2020 by an act of Parliament known as the National Medical Commission Act, 2019.
  • It regulates medical education and medical professionals in India and has replaced the Medical Council of India (MCI, constituted under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956).
  • Organisational structure of NMC —
    • Medical Advisory Council — It provides the platform through which the states or UTs can put forth their views and concerns before the NMC and advises the NMC on measures to determine and maintain minimum standards of medical education.
    • Four autonomous boards
      • Under-Graduate Medical Education Board (sets norms for undergraduate (UG) courses),
      • Post-Graduate Medical Education Board (sets norms for post-graduate courses),
      • Medical Assessment and Rating Board (inspects and rates the medical education institutes), and
      • Ethics and Medical Registration Board (regulates professional conduct of the doctors and registers them).

 

Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences — Background

  • National Board of Examinations (NBE) is an autonomous body (established in 1975 as a Society) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • It was established to standardise postgraduate (PG) medical education and examination in India and currently conducts —
      • The entrance tests for all post-graduation and super-speciality courses.
      • The screening test for foreign medical graduates.
  • After several delays in conducting the PG examinations due to the pandemic, court cases and other procedural delays, resident doctors’ associations asked the government to set up such a body to streamline the process.
  • The existing NBE will be dissolved, according to the draft National Medical Commission (Amendment) Bill 2022.
  • The National Testing Agency conducts the UG entrance exam, and no changes have been proposed in the new bill.

 

About the new Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences

  • This will be the 5th autonomous board under NMC and will take over the functions of the NBE, in addition to conducting the NExT tests – a two-part examination – a qualifying exam for granting registration to doctors as well as the basis for PG admissions.
  • The new board will also accredit institutions for diploma, diplomat, postgraduate fellowship, and super-speciality fellowships.

 

Way ahead to further reform medical education in India

  • On a similar note, ‘Board of Counsellors or Counselling’ should be constituted under NMC, to streamline and fast track admissions.
  • At present, the counselling is conducted by the Medical Counselling Committee independent of NMC.