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India: majority of foreign-trained doctors fail exams

The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has revealed that more than four out of five doctors who return from completing a medical degree abroad fail the Foreign Medical Graduate Exam required to allow them to practise in India.

doctorsFGME results suggest study destinations like China and Russia are failing to prepare students for a medical career. Photo: Pixabay

Just 14.2% of 61,708 test-takers between 2015-18 made the grade

The examination is required for all doctors who undertake their MBBS abroad in countries other than Australia, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and the US. However, the ministry revealed that just 14.2% out of 61,708 test-takers between 2015-18 made the grade.

“The move to alternative destinations for Indian students is likely to be one of the big stories in mobility in the 2020s”

“Alternative destinations” in Eastern Europe and Asia have become more popular over the last decade due to their lower fees and entrance requirements, as well as an increase in the English-taught courses they offer.

However, the robustness of their courses has been called into question after students’ pass rates on the FMGE following studying in destinations such as China, Russia and Ukraine were just 11.67%, 12.91% and 14.87% respectively.

Edwise’s director Sushil Sukhwani told The PIE that students taking the exams are aware of the tough requirements, often signing up for coaching in advance. Some still fail after even the second or third attempt, leaving them with the choice between practising illegally in India or trying their luck abroad.

“[Some] Chinese, Russian and Ukrainian institutes do not go as deep academically… and [some] institutes in China and Russia are more commercial,” he noted.

“Also, [they may] not have proper facilities like operation theatres and equipment or links with hospitals for practical exposure.”

According to Amanda Gregory, lead consultant at EMS Global and COO of UNIVER, two million students competed in the NEET exam for 61,000 places at Indian medical colleges in 2018.

While the Indian government announced the establishment of 24 new 
medical colleges by 2020-2021 in February 2018, for many attempting to pursue a career in medicine, heading abroad is the only option – and traditionally popular destinations are not a financially viable option for many.

“The prediction is that the move to alternative destinations for Indian students is likely to be one of the big stories in international student mobility in the 2020s, and one that could have profound effects on the foreign enrolments of both established and emerging study destinations,” Gregory told The PIE.

India’s medical system is one of the largest in the world but it also has a severe shortage of medical professionals.

A report last year suggested the country needs at least an additional 600,000 doctors and two million nurses, with it currently only having one government doctor for every 10,189 citizens – the WHO recommendation is 1:1,000.

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