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NMC norms on foreign medical graduates to practice in India a transformation move: Rishi Agrawal

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Saturday, July 9, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The National Medical Commission (NMC)’s regulations that prescribe certain parameters before foreign medical graduates can practice in India is a transformation move on the healthcare landscape.

In November 2021, NMC notified the Foreign Medical Graduate Licentiate Regulations, 2021 (FMG Regulations). The regulation has brought in a substantial shift in the recognition of foreign medical degrees in India. In most countries, undergraduate medical degrees obtained outside are subject to licensing examinations in the home country.

India is known for its large pool of quality medical graduates who are much-sought-after globally. Until recently, India was no different in recognising degrees from foreign medical universities subject to clearing the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination. The latest development however, puts those with medical degrees from abroad in a lurch, said Rishi Agrawal, founder & CEO, TeamLease RegTech.

This is because the new rules mandate foreign medical graduates to obtain a permanent registration in India before being granted permission to practice medicine. Such a registration is subject to certain mandatory educational qualifications that not only existed before, but are also at odds with how degrees abroad are structured, he added.

As a leading Regulatory Technology (RegTech) solutions company, the company is of the view that students who pursue MBBS abroad will now have to ensure that their degree is up to 54 months and have to spend an extra year completing their internship before being allowed to practice in India.

While the rules do not explicitly stipulate retrospective application, the move will impact thousands of students who are hopeful of studying abroad as many foreign universities do not have degrees extending to the said duration. Additionally, there is little clarity on the availability of supervised internships for such students from their universities outside India.  Unsurprisingly, the Foreign Medical Association of India as well as students, have opposed the move. Recently, a case was also filed against the FMG regulations before the Rajasthan High Court in respect of the internship requirement stipulated under Regulation 4, Agrawal said.

It is reported that less than 20% of the students obtaining MBBS abroad tend to qualify for the practice of medicine in India. Those pursuing degrees from Russia and China land at the bottom of the pile. Consequently, the new regulations on the whole, do constitute a welcome step. However, the lack of adequate consideration on matters such as internship duration may need to be reviewed, he pointed out. 
The overall implementation logistics of these regulations also need to be clarified to avoid confusion and resulting non-compliance from students.  It is a fact that the ratio of doctors to patients in India-particularly rural India, is abysmal. There is a need for trained personnel in the country. Consequently, the government must ensure that such regulations do not impose additional stresses on a healthcare system as it is still very fragile, Agrawal noted.


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