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National Medical Commission (NMC) has introduced a new exam called the National Exit Test (NExT)

  The demand-supply mismatch of healthcare resources and the disparity in methods used to impart medical education are the major challenges ...


 



The demand-supply mismatch of healthcare resources and the disparity in methods used to impart medical education are the major challenges that need to be overcome at the current time. These disparities in the quality and accessibility of medical education exist across different regions and institutions. This has resulted in variations in the skills and knowledge of healthcare professionals, leading to uneven healthcare standards and outcomes.


To address this issue, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has introduced a new exam called the National Exit Test (NExT), which will replace the existing National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) PG in 2024.


WHAT IS NEXT?

The NExT exam is a postgraduate medical exam that will serve multiple purposes within the Indian medical education system. It will act as:


— A qualifying exam for final year MBBS students, who will have to pass it to obtain their degree and licence to practise medicine in India.


— A licentiate exam for foreign medical graduates, who will have to pass it to practise medicine in India or pursue higher studies.



— A merit-based admission test for postgraduate courses, which will be based on the rank and score of the candidates in NExT.


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND NEEDS OF NEXT ?

The NExT exam is needed to address the various issues and challenges that plague the current medical entrance exam system in India. Some of these issues are:


Lack of focus on clinical skills and internships: The current system does not adequately test the clinical skills and competencies of the candidates. The candidates are also not required to complete a mandatory internship before appearing for NEET PG, which deprives them of hands-on experience and exposure to real-life scenarios. The NExT exam will test the candidates’ clinical skills and competencies rather than their theoretical knowledge and rote learning.


Exams for foreign graduates: Foreign medical graduates face difficulties in securing admission to postgraduate courses due to limited seats and recognition issues. NExT will apply to foreign graduates, ensuring they meet the same standards as Indian graduates, eliminating the need for a separate screening test like FMGE. They must clear NExT within two years of completing their medical studies abroad.



Focus shift to clinical aspects and applied knowledge: The current system emphasises theoretical knowledge over clinical aspects and applied skills. NExT redirects medical education towards the practical application of knowledge, enabling candidates to diagnose, treat, and manage patients using evidence-based medicine and ethical principles.


End of PG coaching culture: NExT aims to eradicate the prevalent culture of expensive PG coaching classes and outdated study materials. Candidates can prepare for NExT by following the prescribed curriculum and accessing online resources provided by credible sources like the NMC.


End of the university and teacher bias: The current system allows for bias and favouritism by universities and teachers during exams. NExT, conducted independently by institutions like AIIMS or NBE, ensures fairness and transparency, eliminating biases based on college or university affiliation.


HOW WILL NEXT BE CONDUCTED?

The NExT exam will be conducted by an independent body such as AIIMS or NBE, which will ensure transparency and fairness in the process. The exam will consist of two parts: a theoretical exam and a practical exam.



— The theoretical exam will have six papers that will cover various subjects such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, pathology, and microbiology.


— The practical exam will have seven papers that will assess the clinical skills and competencies of the candidates in various domains such as medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, pediatrics, orthopedics, ophthalmology, and ENT. The candidates will have to complete a mandatory rotatory internship for a year before appearing for NExT.


NExT is a visionary reform that seeks to create a resilient healthcare system in India, capable of meeting diverse needs, especially during crises like the Covid-19 pandemic. NExT ignites the fire of passion, curiosity, and excellence within candidates, inspiring them to become lifelong learners and leaders in their chosen medical fields. It presents a unique opportunity for aspiring doctors who wish to pursue their medical careers in India, and they should not miss out on it.