Mandatory internship for foreign graduates?

March 7, 2019 0 By FM

Doctors who complete their graduation from the foreign countries may have to do a one-year mandatory internship in India for practicing in the country, as state medical councils are planning to take up the matter with the union health ministry and Medical Council of India (MCI). A decision in this regard was taken in a meeting of state medical councils hosted by the Maharashtra Medical Council.

The meeting held in Mumbai was attended by representatives of 22 state medical councils. Speaking to Future Medicine, Dr Shivkumar Utture, President, Maharashtra Medical Council, said: “Making internship mandatory for foreign medical graduates was one of the topics in the meeting and many of the state medical councils agreed on the same. As the decision has to be taken at the national level now, we are planning to hold a meeting with MCI Board of Directors. It may take a long time to get it done, but the process has already started.”

Emphasizing on the need to make internship mandatory for foreign medical graduates, Dr Utture said the type of diseases differs from country to country, as does ethics. “If the medical professional is not exposed to diseases, then he won’t gain practical knowledge. The doctor can gain practical knowledge if the internship is made mandatory for foreign medical graduates before practising in India. If the doctor is not exposed to ethics and the type of patients he is dealing with, then it will be a loss to the doctor and for the patient.” He added that by doing an internship in India, the medical professional can gain the kind of practical knowledge required to practice in this country.


Need for orientation

Agreeing with Dr Utture, Dr Jayakrishnan AV, Chairman of the Kerala chapter of IMA Hospital Board of India, said that though the medicos learn theory, they get the actual orientation during house surgency. “The system existing in India is different from other countries. Also, the syllabus of MBBS in India is more comprehensive than [those in] other countries and here, the training period is longer.”

Medical professionals who obtain their degree from countries such as Mauritius have been doing their one-year internship in India. But in case of countries such as China, they undergo internship in the respective country. “Everyone should be made to do their internship in India,” said Dr Utture.

Commenting on the development, Dr A Najeerul Ameen, President, All India Foreign Medical Graduates Association, said: “Students who are pursuing medical graduation in countries such as Russia and China are already doing their internship in India. After doing the internship, foreign medical graduates should be allowed to directly practice medicine. It will benefit both society and the graduates. By allowing foreign medical graduates to do their internship in India, services of more doctors can be made available in hospitals. Also, such candidates need to wait two to three years to clear the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE).”


Steep rise in outflow

Due to the shortage of medical seats in India and the high costs involved, the number of Indian students pursuing their medical graduation in countries such as China, Russia, Bangladesh, Philippines, Ukraine and other countries has been witnessing a steady increase over the years. In the year of 2017–18, the MCI issued eligibility certificates to more than 14,000 such candidates compared to over 8,700 in the previous year. The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is not mandatory for those who wish to do their medical degree in foreign countries. But the government has decided to make NEET mandatory from the next academic year.

Presently, in order to practice in the country, foreign medical graduates have to pass the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) conducted by the National Board of Examination (NBE). The examination is conducted twice in a year and medicos have to score a minimum of 50 percent marks in the examination. A maximum of three attempts are allowed. However, the number of medicos passing the examination is very low. As per reports, only 2,411 out of 9,274 medicos cleared the examination in August 2018. It was the highest number of candidates clearing the examination. The pass percentage was less than 10 in previous years. Dr Jayakrishnan AV highlighted the difference between the system of training in India and those in other countries as one of the reasons for the low pass-percentage.