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A Basic Guide to the National Medical Commission Bill, 2019

The introduction of the National Medical Commission Bill in the parliamentary houses has left the aspiring MBBS students in a state of puzzlement. With the nation divided between those in favor, and those against, a student seeking MBBS abroad are struggling to get clarity on the features of the proposed Bill. 

What is the National Medical Commission Bill and what does it mean for the medical practitioners in India, and for the future generations of doctors? 

What is the National Medical Commission Bill 2019?

As Passed by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha (with two proposed amendments) earlier this week, the National Medical Commission Bill 2019 resolves to revamp the medical education structure of India, by bringing in a range of reforms. As per the propositioned Bill, the NMC would substitute the standing Medical Council of India, while annulling the Indian Medical Council Act of 1956. 

However, that’s not all! The Bill has made the ensuing propositions in the National Medical Commission Act –

  1. NEET (or National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test) and common counseling for all undergraduate and postgraduate super specialty medical education

  2. Initiation of a common examination for MBBS final year assessment and postgraduate NEET called National Exit Test (NEXT) which would weigh-in as –

    1. MBBS licentiate exam

    2. Postgraduate admission criteria for broad specialty medical modules

    3. Screening exam for foreign medical graduates (FMG)

  3. Application of NEET, Common Counseling, and NEXT for AIIMS and all other Institutes of National Importance (INI)

  4. Regulation of charges including fees for 50 percent of seats in private medical institutions and deemed universities

In simpler words, the NMC 2019 proposes that there should be a single NEET and common counseling system for admissions to all Undergraduate and Postgraduate Super Specialty Medicine courses (including INIs); a single NEXT system for licensing of all medical graduates, including those who chose to study MBBS abroad, and for those seeking postgraduate admission to broad specialty courses (including INIs); and regulation of 50% seats in deemed universities and other private medical institutions.

Functioning of the National Medical Commission

The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill has sought the formation of four autonomous bodies to make NMC a well-oiled machine –

  1. Undergraduate Medical Education Board

    1. For regulation of medical education in India at the undergraduate level

  2. Post Graduate Medical Education Board

    1. For regulation of medical education in India at postgraduate level

  3. Medical Assessment and Rating Board

    1. To devise a rating system for medical institutes in India

    2. To carry out compliance inspections for the set rating system

    3. Issue warnings, penalties, discontinue admissions or recommend withdrawal of recognition, in case of non-compliance

    4. Permit setting up of new medical institutions, the introduction of postgraduate courses, and increase the total seats in medical organizations

  4. Ethics and Registration Board

    1. To keep a National Register with particulars of all certified medical practitioners in the nation

Furthermore, with a step towards transparency and digitization, the Bill proposes a regulated updation of all websites of all medical institutes and universities. According to the NMC Bill 2019, there would be a Medical Advisory Council, responsible for making suitable proposals to the commission for adequate functioning and enforcement of the Bill. The Bill also proposes to discontinue the annual renewal of permissions by medical institutions, limiting it to one singular event.

Effects of NMC on Indian Graduates and those who Study MBBS Abroad

How would the Bill affect the rights of the existing medical practitioners and what would it entail for those pursuing the medical degree?

  1. According to NMC Bill, all those who qualify National Exit Test (NEXT) would be eligible for automatic inclusion in the National Register.
  2. Individuals already registered under the Indian Medical Register as per the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, would be eligible for automatic inclusion into the National Register.
  3. All Foreign Medical Graduates, including existing licensed practitioners and the aspiring candidates, will be required to qualify the National Exit Test (NEXT).
  4. Those pursuing and clearing MBBS before the immediate implementation of the NMC would be exempted from NEXT.

It is yet to be seen as to when the Bill finally gets cleared and is set in motion for its implementation. As per the clauses, the Bill must be implemented within three years since the date of parliamentary approval.

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