Common Exit Exams for Indian Med Students?

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So, if this Article (not the best source of news, I know) is to be believed, then the special task force created under the aegis of the Central Government to clean up the mess that is medical education in India, the National Commission for Human Resources for Health, has suggested in its report that there should be a common exit exams for the medical students.

Now the first question which springs to my mind is whether this “exit” exam will be held just as the final MBBS exam, crossing which we enter into clinical rotations, known as Internship, or will it be applicable for all other years as well. In most cases, we have to take four year-end exams in order to complete the didactic part of our MBBS training. I was wondering if they were thinking of replacing all the four exams or just the final one.

It does make sense to have a uniform evaluating tool to measure the students’ worth, and for once, this may work. Unlike the common entrance examination, which I am pretty sure will never work out (thanks to the stakes the private organizations have in the private medical colleges), this may actually work out. In fact, this seems like something of the USMLE Steps.

Of late, the medical examination application procedure is really getting back in shape. Since last year, the age old process of getting admission forms and examination applications via post are gone. Now we can do most of the work online. And that happened pretty quickly, in the span of a mere few months. This indicates that political and bureaucratic slothness willing, there is room for sea-changes in the medical education system in India: but they kind of get diluted by the large number of people with vested interests in the whole pie that is the business of medical education.

In my opinion, having a common exit examination (whether one or four) is a great idea, but it should be implemented only after proper standardization of the medical curriculum. In fact, this may as well be a surrogate reason for making the much needed change in the medical curriculum, which has stagnated over decades in several parts of the country.

However, all this aside, if a common exit examination is started without a common entrance examination for both the Undergraduate and Post graduate courses, I believe it will be an unfair trade off – some sort of a settlement where each party gets a part of what they want and nothing really happens in the system. The main issue is not in how we pass out, but how we enter the system: one has to make sure that with all the board room parasites running rampant over the system, true merit does not go unrecognized.

Skeptic Oslerphile, Scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases. Interests include: Emerging Infections, Public Health, Antimicrobial Resistance, One Health and Zoonoses, Diarrheal Diseases, Medical Education, Medical History, Open Access, Healthcare Social Media and Health2.0. Opinions are my own!

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