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National Medical Commission Allows Final Year Medical Students Came From Ukraine, China To Attend FMGE

Final-year medical students from countries such as China and Ukraine, who were forced to return to India owing to the Covid-19 pandemic or the war, will now be eligible to appear in Foreign Medical Graduate Exam (FMGE) – a screening test that foreign medical students have to clear to practise in the country. Only students who have completed the courses and have been granted a certificate of completion on or before June 30, 2022 will be eligible for this one-time relaxation by the National Medical Commission, an apex body regulating medical education in the country.

“Thereafter, upon qualifying the FMGE, such foreign medical graduates are required to undergo compulsory rotating medical internship for a period of two years to make up for the clinical training which could not be physically attended by them,” a public notice from NMC said.

The foreign medical graduates will be eligible to get a permanent registration for practising in the country only after completing the two-year internship. The notice stated, “The above relaxation … is a one-time measure and shall not be treated as precedence in the future.”

At present, foreign medical graduates have to complete their training and a one-year internship at the university they are enrolled in in order to appear for the FMGE exam in India. They then have to complete a one-year internship in India as well to get permanent registration.

The relaxation is unlikely to help many students as the FMGE is notorious for low pass percentages. Only 16.5% of the students who appeared for the exam in 2020 passed it, according to data provided by the National Board of Examinations that conducts the screening test.

This proposal was submitted by the undergraduate medical board of the NMC on orders of the Supreme Court. The proposal did not explicitly mention what students from other batches could do, but officials said that the first- and second-year medical students, who joined their college after November 2021, can appear again for NEET to seek admission in Indian colleges. These students, unlike the third- and fourth-year students, cannot take a transfer to universities in other European countries.

The new guidelines for foreign medical graduates that came into force November 2021 states that the students have to complete their entire training and internship from the same university.

Around 18,000 medical students returned from Ukraine after the war started in February.

Without permission from the apex regulatory body, however, the West Bengal government had granted seats to 412 people who returned from the war-torn country. Of the 412 the West Bengal government allotted seats to, only 23 were final-year students who have been allowed to complete internship in government medical colleges. Another 135 fourth- and fifth-year students have been allowed to complete their theoretical training online from colleges in Ukraine while receiving practical training in India. Another 172 students from the second and third year have been allowed to attend practical classes in India. And, 78 first-year students who had appeared for the same year’s NEET were allowed to undergo counselling for management quota seats in private colleges, with the government urging them to give concessions on the fees.

The health ministry, however, in the ongoing Parliament session, in response to a question stated, “No permission has been given by the NMC to transfer or accommodate any foreign medical students in any Indian medical institute or university.”

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