Medical graduates: Foreign students to protest against equivalency tests

Published: April 15, 2018
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PHOTO: FILE

PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Foreign medical graduates have decided to stage a protest and sit-in against the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) for timely, frequent and transparent equivalency examination to save their time.

Medical graduates who have obtained degrees from foreign countries like China, Afghanistan, Russia and Central Asian states and Cuba are required to undergo equivalency exams before starting practice in Pakistan. Graduates of USA and UK are exempted from the exam.

PMDC conducts these exams called National Examination Board (NEB) examination in three steps twice a year after which the passed medical graduates are given registration by the regulator to practice or study further. But the delays in conducting these exams cause troubles for the aspiring graduates and this time they say the exam was delayed about 14 months.

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A body of foreign medical graduates, say the council does not follow its own rules and conducting the exam only once a year that too with delays, however, a country like Maldives conducts such exams 10 times in a year. They say even the FCPS exams are held four times a year.

They said the system has been made complicated for the foreign qualified graduates while quacks are allowed to practice openly.

Due to strict and complicated system the pass percentage has been only 10 to 15 per cent and candidates cannot even question it.

There is no specific syllabus for the exams and those who pass it are not allowed to directly do house jobs. Candidates are not informed well in time about the exam to study and prepare.

“We have been demanding multiple exams on time with transparency as per practices in other countries,” said Pakistan Foreign Medical Graduates Welfare Association President Dr Sheharyar Ahmed,

Graduates have been sitting at home for the last 14 months due to delays in exams, he said. “We neither can do jobs nor study further until we pass this exam. We are treated unfairly by the PMDC despite getting degrees from prestigious foreign medical colleges.

Only a few are declared pass and those who doubt their result are not provided carbon copies of their answer sheets to tally if their answers were correct,”.

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The PMDC, however, believes the council has been conducting the exam since 90s and only last year it was conducted once in a year due to internal issues.

They say the students are informed a month before the exam so that those outside the country can also sit in it. As it is conducted in three steps and takes months for submissions of documents, holding it and then announcing results so taking it more than twice a year is not possible.

They say it’s a basic sciences test that the graduates should know as they have to deal with actual humans lives after getting registration.

According to PMDC officials the candidates are sometimes unable to clear the exam due to language barrier because they study in native languages of the host countries.

This year NEB examination step-I is scheduled to be held on April 15. PMDC is conducting NEB examination with the collaboration of National University of Medical Sciences (NUMS). Almost 3,127 candidates are going to appear in the examination at Pak China Friendship Center Islamabad and Army Medical College Rawalpindi. After taking exams the graduates will protest in front of their examination centre and then hold a sit –in before the National Press Club Islamabad.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2018.

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