The National Medical Commission (NMC), which is intending to convert to a licentiate test following MBBS, has produced draft guidelines on how doctors would be registered to practise medicine.
Meanwhile, the recommendations lay the groundwork for establishing a dynamic national medical registration, with each student receiving a unique ID and professional certifications such as post-graduation and super-speciality training being added to the same ID.
NMC draft guidelines for medical registration
Foreign doctors who want to travel to India for post-graduate courses, fellowships, clinical research, or voluntary clinical services can now register under the set of three draft guidelines.
Furthermore, the rules address the issue of foreign specialists being granted “permission” by the Ministry of Health.
Instead, the NMC will now offer such doctors a temporary registration that will expire at the end of the programme.
Further, the temporary registration will be valid for a maximum of 12 months.
According to the NMC draft, Indian medical graduates who earn their MBBS degree from a recognised college, complete their year-long required internship, and pass the National Exit Test would be eligible for registration in the National Medical Register (NExT).
Meanwhile, foreign medical graduates can register after completing their education in a nation other than India, becoming eligible to practise medicine in that country, completing a year-long internship in India, and passing the same NExT exam.
Currently, Indian students do not need to take a licentiate exam after completing their MBBS in order to be registered with their state medical boards.
Whereas foreign medical graduates must pass a screening test administered by the National Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences in order to be registered.
Moreover, NExT will not only level the playing field for both, but it will also serve as the qualifying test for post-graduate programmes, replacing the present NEET-PG exam.
Officials claimed that once a unique ID is issued, the portal will be open to all recognised institutes in India, which will be able to upload all verified documentation of their pupils.
“This will make the registration process easier as the state medical councils currently have to get all the documents submitted by those wishing to register from the medical institutes by post before adding the name,” an NMC official said.
“All licenced practitioners are obliged to inform and update their data in the National Register, such as Additional Qualifications, Contact Details, and Place of Practice / Employment, as soon as changes occur,” the NMC draft guidelines state.
Currently, each state has its own medical registration, which is then transmitted to NMC for consolidation into a national register.
Meanwhile, according to a Delhi Medical Council official, this registration with state medical councils is normally updated every five years, leaving a lot of potential for duplication of names in other states and doctors who have retired or died lingering on the registry for years.
However, the doctors are not allowed to practise unless they are registered with their own state council.
Re-registration is still required after certain time periods, albeit the time range has not been specified. “Since the register will keep getting updates as and when the doctors pursue specialisations or any other courses,” the official explained. Adding to it, officials said, “it can be shared with various authorities to check the qualifications of people they seek to hire.”
The current processes will continue until the NExt is implemented, according to the proposed rules. The NExT is expected to begin in 2024, according to the government.
The NMC guidelines say that those who are already enrolled in various medical registers will be considered to be enrolled in the National Medical Register once it begins.