The announcement by the National Medical Commission (NMC) about the National Exit Test (NExT) being conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi with the 2024 passing batch has created a lot of confusion and worry for students. AIIMS Delhi also announced that it will be conducting a mock test on 28th July 2023 for which registrations have already started.

According to reports, NExT 2023 will now be serving as the common exit test for medical students replacing NEET PG and FMGE examinations. The NExT exam will act as a licentiate as well as entrance exam for medical students going into post-graduate courses.

But there are a lot of protests from students, parents and even experts against this exam students being introduced mid-way through the course year and students having to suddenly learn an entirely new exam format different from the NEET PG format.

The NExT exam is divided into two parts, NExT Step 1 an MCQ-based exam that will also double as an entrance exam for PG courses and NExT Step 2 a practical/clinical exam.

Reports have claimed that experts are also not entirely in agreement with the NExT exam format, considering it to be “neither feasible nor desirable”.

Experts Say

However, several experts seem to not be in agreement with this new test format with Dr Vinay Aggarwal, former national president, IMA, and chairman of Action Committee IMA commenting that “But using the same format for medical licensing that too with negative marks can never be justified.

MBBS students are trained all along in the subjective method. Neither students nor teachers are aware or trained in the MCQ method, and suddenly changing the exam pattern will only help in mushrooming of entrance coaching centres and divert the students’ main purpose from learning and acquiring clinical skills to mugging entrance questions.”

Experts are also concerned with the confusing statements and back and forth with authorities that is resulting in the students themselves being confused on what to do more so since NEET PG candidates are said to start their preparations almost 3-4 years before the exam while also presently dealing with their final university exams and internships.

Rajiv Ranjan Prasad, Dean of Aryabhatta Knowledge University has said “The NExT was not needed at all; the authorities could have simply combined NEET PG and FMGE instead of bringing in new exams and confusing students.

It is true that the implementation of this exam is wrong, as this comes at a time when students should have been concentrating on practical lessons, but now interns are missing their lessons to prepare for this new exam. However, what is more worrisome is the mere introduction of this exam. NEET PG could have been modified rather than bringing new things. Right now, authorities are concentrating more on introducing new things, rather than improving the quality of the existing things — be it medical exams, colleges or courses.”

Indian MBBS Students Worried

All this confusion has actually been causing stress and confusion for MBBS students and for them to be worried about their future. Several reports have students claiming how difficult all this back and forth is on their exam preparation and them concerned about the next steps.

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Speaking with The Indian Express, a final year MBBS student from Kanachur Institute Of Medical Sciences (Karnataka) Mohammed Muddassir M Z stated that “What has caused the main chaos and panic is the way this exam was implemented. Authorities should have considered that MBBS students start preparing for NEET PG in the third year of MBBS. So, when we suddenly learned that we had to appear for the NExT instead of NEET PG, it confused us about how to prepare. But now, with the new statement, we are not even sure whether we need to prepare for NExT or NEET PG.”

Another aspirant Syed Kalandar, an MBBS Intern at Kanachur Institute of Medical Sciences, Mangalore (Karnataka) said that “We had been preparing for the NEET PG exam while studying for our MBBS degree side-by-side, and some of us are even doing internships. We started studying for NEET PG but then had to shift to the NExT after that, and now we have to shift back to NEET PG, maybe? This is nothing short of ‘hell’ for MBBS students right now.”

While Kushal, a final-year MBBS student of Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute was quoted by The Hindu saying, “The NMC has introduced NExT from the current year. According to our college schedule, the final-year syllabus will be completed by January 2024. The NMC has announced that it will conduct the NExT Step 1 in May 2024. This will give us three months to prepare, which is a tough task.”

As per a report by The Hindu one medical student said that “We are used to writing long form theory papers. Given that this is a MCQ paper with negative marking in Step 1, and failure to clear the exam will also prevent us from doing the one-year mandatory internship, we are scared of getting stuck.”

Another final-year medical student from Mysuru spoke about how they’d been initially planning to work in a government hospital first and then do their PG, but these new rules have made it impossible now.

The parent of a final-year student from Bengaluru Swathi was quoted saying “My son is in the final year of an MBBS course. The NMC has imposed NExT abruptly on students of the 2019-20 academic year batch. The students were following one format while starting their medical courses in 2019-20. Suddenly, a change in the evaluation process is being made. NMC should implement NExT only when students who joined the course in the academic year 2023-24 pass out.”

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature Image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources: The Hindu, The Indian Express, Times of India

Find the blogger: @chirali_08

This post is tagged under: Indian MBBS Students, MBBS students, MBBS qualifying exam, mbbs new qualifying exam, NEET PG, NExT or NEET PG, next exam mbbs, National Exit Test (NExT), National Medical Commission (NMC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Health Minister Mansukh L Mandaviya, nmc, aiims

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