MMC polls: contestants united against revalidation exams

Published - December 08, 2016 12:49 am IST

Mumbai: Opposing the proposed plan to start revalidation examinations for doctors and exit examinations for all those who clear MBBS course tops the list of agendas set by contestants battling for the upcoming Maharashtra Medical Council elections.

In an attempt to reform the healthcare sector, the centre plans to introduce a compulsory examination for doctors every three or five years to ensure that they are updated with the existing and latest trends in the field. Another plan in the pipeline is to start an exit exam that will be mandatory for all MBBS graduates from private and government colleges. Doctors, however claim that, if implemented, both plans will only lead to harassment and confusion.

“What is the government expecting from us? They want us to sit for exams every three or five years. What are they going to do if we fail, cancer out licenses? The doctors have moved on to niche specialities, and if you ask them to take a generalised exam, then we are looking at a future with very few doctors,” Dr. Shivkumar Utture, a general surgeon contesting the MMC elections scheduled on December 18, said.

Dr. Utture is part of the panel that has promised to strongly oppose the revalidation exams and exit exams in their manifesto. According to him, there are 8.5 lakh doctors in the country including 20,000 in Mumbai. “It is simply not right to standardise a test for all. Also, why are other professions being left out? The government should have an examination for everyone, such as lawyers, chartered accounts, architects,” he said.

At present, doctors in six States including Maharashtra attend conferences meant for Continuing Medical Education (CME) to keep themselves abreast of the latest medical trends and procedures. Each doctor has to collect six CME points every year to be eligible for renewal of registration. Every CME may carry different points as decided by the state councils and one point should consist of four hours. However, the concept of CMEs has drastically given rise to the doctor-pharma nexus, as most conferences are organised in tie-ups with pharmaceutical companies.

Many doctors also feel that instead of promoting pharma companies, the councils should implement 60 hours of relevant reading in their niche field and then set an online test for doctors. “I think the system needs to be revamped by getting online access. Doctors the world over have the option of attending CMEs online, which should be replicated here,” said Dr Sudhir Naik, a gynaecologist.

Bariatric surgeon Dr. Ramen Goel, who practices at Wockhardt Hospital, said he believes in the revalidation process as it establishes checks and balances for doctors to prove that their skills are up-to-date, and thus reassures patients. “However, it cannot be through an exam but through mandatory CME points as is already being done in Maharashtra. The current system is working well and can be replicated in other States too. Periodical exams for doctors, who are already overworked, is not a good idea," he said.

As far as exit exams are concerned, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has already opposed it. “They should instead plan a centralised board examination in the last year of the MBBS course, instead of having another exam after the students pass out. How many exams will a medical aspirant take?” Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, national president-elect, IMA, said. “The idea of re-validation exams has been floating around since a long time, and we have always opposed it. It has been brought up simply as an election gimmick.”

Docs launch emergency app

Eight doctors contesting the MMC elections have launched a prototype of an MMC application that will have a database of all the 85,000 doctors in the State. The doctors are part of the Parivartan panel. “We want to promote accountability in the MMC. For this, the public should have access to relevant information. This explains our app,” said gynaecologist Dr. Sangeeta Pikale, a contestant. The doctors plan to give access to the entire portfolio of registered members, their status on any legal cases and so on. “This would empower the public to choose,” she added.

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