NEET counselling will be smooth; NExT exam decision in upcoming NMC meeting: Official

National Medical Commission’ Dr Yogender Malik on medical education, faculty, new colleges, NEET PG cut-offs and more.


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Dr Yogender Malik, member of the NMC’s Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB). (Image: Special Arrangement)Dr Yogender Malik, member of the NMC’s Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB). (Image: Special Arrangement)

Sanjay | May 20, 2024 | 10:23 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The National Medical Commission (NMC) replaced the Medical Council of India (MCI) in 2020, becoming the apex regulator of medical education and the profession. Since then, it has brought several new regulations, some hailed as crucial reform and others as confusing and misdirected.

Dr Yogender Malik, member of the NMC’s Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB), spoke to Careers360 about reforms made in medical education, entrance exams for medical courses, the National Exit Test (NExT) and anti-ragging measures.

Q. It has been more than three years since the NMC Act came into force. How has the journey been so far?

A. We started from scratch with an opportunity to improve the medical education system and profession. We got the building from the erstwhile MCI immediately; we got staff but after a few months.

A few of us are working part-time and a few, including me, are working full-time. We worked hard and we were able to deliver on two important things – transparency in the system and quality of medical education.

In the past three-four years, you have not had any news about wrongdoings going on in NMC and this transparency brings credibility to the commission. Through NMC reforms, we moved from deductive lectures mainly based on books to competency based medical education (CBME). It was not an easy task as it required training of faculty and other staff.

Q. How is NMC moving toward digital inspection of medical colleges? Are they submitting recordings to have their permits renewed?

A. We are not doing away with physical inspection but there will be digital inspections too. Technology is the future of the world. We are trying to introduce more and more technology, reducing subjectivity and interference of human beings.

This will also bring transparency and everybody will know every information given by the medical college. I think this is a progressive step and I believe we move towards more transparency through this step.

Q. Will NMC publish the reports containing information given by colleges or will the commission announce the results and ratings on its website?

A. You will know how we do this in due course of time. I think this is not the right time to tell you all this.

Also read NMC won't provide medical college assessment reports, only 'results'

Q. How is NMC working towards its aims for medical education?

A. Access to quality and affordable medical education is among the many big goals of NMC. The apex medical education regulator suggested what should be the fee structure of medical colleges. The matter is sub-judice so I will not go into the details of it.

We have a federal structure and it should be the combined responsibility of central and state governments to ensure affordability of medical education.

As far as accessibility to quality medical education is concerned, the number of medical colleges has increased everywhere significantly.

Q. There is a shortage of faculty affecting quality. What is NMC doing to address this problem?

A. Earlier, there were concerns regarding ghost faculty. Now, NMC has introduced the Aadhaar Enabled Biometric Attendance System (AEBAS) and we are very strictly implementing this.

We are encouraging government and private medical colleges to do the right kind of hiring. Every faculty has to put their signature at least once in a day and it is reflected in the dashboard of NMC.

So, we are trying to ensure that there is no medical faculty shortage. We are also trying to increase doctor-patient ratio to improve various health indicators in future.

Q. How many MBBS seats will be available for over 23 lakhs who wrote NEET UG 2024?

A. As of now [April], there are around 1,08,000 MBBS seats. The inspection process for allowing the opening of new medical colleges is going on. Permission to start the MBBS courses will be given to those medical colleges which qualify the NMC criteria. So, if MBBS seats from new medical colleges add up, there will be a huge increase.

Also read UP government proposes 14 new medical colleges adding 1,400 MBBS seats

Q. Why did NMC advance the NEET PG 2024 to June 23 from July 7?

A. NEET PG 2024 exam date was changed because of logistical reasons. A few days' advancement of the exam date does not affect much because students have been preparing for this exam for a very long time. So, it does not matter if the exam date is advanced or postponed for 10 days. You have to take the decisions keeping various things in mind and we wanted the exam date to be such that maximum students from all states.

The exam conducting authority fixed this date to avoid hassles and problems as it will have the best logistical resources available on June 23.

Q. Why did NMC withdraw the National Exit Test (NExT) regulations in August after issuing them in June 2023?

A. There is a process to how NMC frames regulations. Every time, there will be multiple views on some point in a regulation. We take one view in the final guidelines and regulations.

But sometimes, even after the regulations are framed following a rigorous process and stakeholder consultations, there is still a large chunk of students and stakeholders who come to us saying they need more deliberations on regulations.

At NMC, we are ready to listen to stakeholders and hence decided to have more deliberations on NExT regulations.

Q. In January 2024, NMC sought public feedback on NExT’s feasibility. What suggestions have you received so far?

A. We have called for public feedback and we will take decisions for the advancement of the quality in medical education. The decision will be medical stakeholders, students and faculty friendly. We will list the agenda regarding NExT guidelines in the next NMC meeting.

Normally, we meet every three months. There can be a decision on the new medical test in the next meeting. It depends upon how agreements are reached between NMC members and stakeholders in the meeting.

There is no confusion on NExT regulations and we will implement them whenever they are out. We will announce in the regulations itself about which MBBS batch will be the first to sit for this exam. We want to assure the students that we will provide them all the information that they need for this exam and they will get ample time for preparation.

Q. There have been delays in NEET UG and NEET PG counselling for the past few years. What is NMC doing to streamline the counselling process?

A. We held many meetings regarding NEET counselling. We are discussing this regularly and I am assuring the students there will be a smooth and streamlined counselling process next time.

Q. NMC faced criticism for reducing NEET PG cutoff to zero with many saying it was aimed at filling vacant seats in private medical colleges.

A. I believe this was a student-friendly decision. All the students who were giving NEET-PG have passed their MBBS. They have a level and they are doctors.

Many seats were vacant due to many reasons filled with this decision. I am receiving responses from medical colleges that many pre and paraclinical subjects are full with postgraduate students. It has done no harm.

I do not see the government and private medical college angle to this decision. Both the government and private medical colleges benefited from it. By reducing the NEET PG cut-off to zero, we were able to ensure that students chose the subjects for which there were no takers earlier.

Q. What progress has the 15-member national task force formed to address mental health issues of medical students made?

A. This task force will give recommendations in the form of a report to NMC. The report will be submitted in time. We have already had two meetings with the task force and the first draft of the report is almost ready. We will visit the medical colleges to understand the ground realities. After this report, we will have very scientific ideas on what are the reasons behind stress and what students should do to have less stress in their lives and improve their mental health.

Q. What is NMC doing on complaints of ragging leading to suicides and dropouts?

A. The anti-ragging committee of NMC is holding meetings frequently and we are very serious about ragging complaints. We have visited two medical colleges from where we received complaints of ragging. Zero tolerance for ragging is our aim and we will take the strictest of actions against those found guilty in ragging cases. We have asked all the medical colleges to spread anti-ragging measures. Most of them are doing it and I hope they will continue it. The senior students and faculty should be senstised in medical colleges about ragging free campus.

Also read NMC conducts online survey to assess mental health of medical students

Q. In July last year, NMC had signed an MoU with the Quality Council of India (QCI) for assessing ratings of the medical institutions. Is there any progress on this?

A. There is a lot of progress. We did trials in eight medical colleges. Before doing anything further, all the parameters of assessing ratings of the medical institutions will be put in public domain soon.

Q. NMC has been operating without a full time chairperson since September 2023. How is this affecting the functioning of the commission?

A. We have an in-charge chairperson who is a very respectable and competent person. He is discharging his duties really well. This is an administrative matter and we will have a full-time permanent chairperson in due course of time.

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