Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Health ministry rankings help you choose a medical school abroad



Search for institutes will now be easy forthose aspiring to study abroad without being duped by fly-by-night agents

Those looking to study medicine abroad have their priorities cut out — apart from choosing a reputed institute, they have to factor in tuition fees, cost of living and the city or country they want to go to.To make their search easy, the ministry of health and family welfare has come up with a list of medical institutes they can apply to as degrees from these universities will hold value in India too.The institutes have been ranked on the basis of how students have performed in a screening test, the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) conducted by the National Board of Examinations (NBE).
The FMGE is a licensure exam which screens out testtakers who do not have the aptitude for medicine and select those who are capable of boosting the country’s physician workforce with their knowledge and skills.The l i st has around 286 institutions from 42 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, China, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines, United Arab Emirates and Romania. NBE has ranked institutes on the basis of results of around 35,000 students who cleared their MBBS exams between 2012 and 2014.About 9,690 Indian students passed t he screening t est during this period with an overall pass percentage of about 27%.

The maximum number of graduates, according to the ranking, were from China (11,825) with a pass percentage of 18.9%, followed by Russia (5,950) with a pass percentage of 18.4%, Ukraine (3,520) with a pass percentage of 19.1% and Nepal (3,163) with a pass percentage of 21.2%.There are 16 colleges and universities from where Indian students have graduated in the NBE screening test with a pass percentage of 100%.Two colle ges in China – Chenyang Medical College and College of the Left Side of China have a pass percentage of 100% Indians in the test. Russia’s Kyrgyz Russian Slavic University also has a pass percentage of 100% as has Ukraine’s VN Karazin Kharkiv National Medical University. Nepal’s Nobel Medical College has been ranked number one on the NBE list with a pass percentage of 32%.BP Koirala I nstitute of Health Sciences is a close second with a pass percentage of 31%.With increasing competition and fewer MBBS seats in India for lakhs of students who apply, many medical aspirants contemplate pursuing education abroad in countries such as China, Ukraine, Russia and the Philippines.Another reason for choosing these countries over others is the cheaper educational cost when compared to the more expensive countries like the US or UK.

Experts say the health ministry move will help students as well as the Indian medical fraternity. “Generally speaking, a ranking based on objectively structured criteria and defined weightage accruable thereto is definitely useful for a student to make an appropriate choice for seeking admission to a concerned college. An objectively-based categorisation is of definite use to the stakeholders,” says Dr Jayshree Mehta, president, Medical Council of India.

Dr Mehta says t hat t he present scenario would be af fected to the extent that the Indian students opting for foreign medical qualifications could make an ‘informed choice’ while selecting an institute. “This would be on the basis of specific quality information handily available to him so that the choice is not blind in nature but is based on subtle relevant information. However, the ranking would turn out to be of consequence and relevance provided it is made in an objective and definitive manner,” she adds.

Dr KK Aggarwal, honorary secretary general, Indian Medical Association, agrees. “We must remember that students make institutions and institutions do not make students.An institution like AIIMS has the best results because the best students go there. Through such a ranking, students can know the pass percentage of these institutions. China and Russia have the cheapest medical fee and that is why most students go there. This kind of ranking helps.”

Students will not be cheated now

Professor Dr Bipin Batra, additional director, National Board of Examinations (NBE), elaborates how the medical school rankings will help students and institutions. Excerpts from an interview. Do you think the medical school rankings will help Indian students wanting to pursue medical education abroad? Yes. As of now, potential candidates are dependent on information given by agents of foreign medical institutions operational in India or they are able to get very limited information. Our interactions with foreign medical graduates over the years have highlighted a dirty nexus of agents duping candidates. This information will help aspirants make an informed choice. We are working to compile basic data on the foreign medical institutions for candidates. Do you think it will help prevent any cases of invalid medical degrees in India? Yes it will. Despite a liberal regulatory framework for overseas graduates appearing in the screening test, there are some candidates who end up pursuing MBBS courses in which guidelines have been violated. This information about data on previous sessions validates the track record of institutes in terms of their contribution to the landscape. If any institute does not find a place on the list, the aspirant has to do due diligence for the same.

An MCI certificate is a must


The health ministry has issued guidelines for Indian students and the foreign medical institutions admitting them. To take the FMGE exam, a candidate must obtain an eligibility certificate (EC) from the Medical Council of India (MCI) before seeking admission in an institute abroad. Students have been advised to exercise due diligence in selecting foreign institutions and countries. They must analyse the quality of medical education imparted there with respect to the requirements of clearing FMGE.They have also been advised to check the medium of medical education in the college where they seek admission and factors such as monthly living expenses, availability of hostel facility etc. Foreign medical institutions have been advised to select Indian candidates for their medical courses themselves and not rely on ‘agents’. They must also ensure that they comply with the necessary Indian regulations, pay attention to MBBS curriculum in India and statutory requirements for medical colleges in India in terms of faculty, infrastructure and clinical competencies at the undergraduate level. The ministry has suggested that the MCI can consider taking an undertaking from the candidates that they have been given full and correct information by the college/university about tuition and other fees, facilities, curriculum of the course, language of instruction/teaching, availability of hostel facilities, monthly living expenses etc. A copy of the Indian MBBS curriculum as per Graduate Medical Regulation can also be made available to the candidates at the time of issuing the EC so that they can refer to it in the context of their training at overseas medical institutions.
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