A sneak peak into NEXT exam

New Delhi: One of the biggest changes that are going to be introduced in the medical education system in India, is the National Exit Exam (NEXT). This uniform examination would not only serve as a licentiate exam for those who have done MBBS in India as well as abroad but would also serve as a gateway to admission to the postgraduate broad-speciality medical education in the country. The exam is going to be attempted by Indian medical graduates and foreign medical graduates (FMGs) alike, thus providing a level playing field for all to practice in the country.

Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that NEXT, the uniform exit examination would be coming into force by 2023. Even though lots of speculations are being made regarding NEXT, till now there is not much clarity about the exam pattern and other details.

Insights to some extent have been given about the pattern of the exam in a recent study by the members of the Undergraduate Medical Education Board of the National Medical Commission (NMC). The study has been published in The National Medical Journal of India with the title “Seeking graduation in medical colleges outside India: Is it a ‘win–win situation’ or ‘lose–lose situation’ for the stakeholders and the nation?”

Also Read: NEXT to be gateway to PG medical admissions, score will be valid for 3 years: NMC new draft guidelines

NEXT in Two Parts for Everyone:

Authored by the members of the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board (UGMEB), the paper has provided some insights towards the possible pattern of the examination, which will be conducted in two parts.

NEXT Step 1:

The first part of the examination called “NEXT Step 1” would serve as the uniform final MBBS exit examination for all the students who are pursuing MBBS in India, or those graduating outside.

It will be a multiple-choice based theory examination, which the students will have to clear for being eligible for MBBS internship in India.

“The NEXT step 1 is mooted to be a multiple-choice theory examination in which all the students will appear simultaneously. Indian students who pass in theory will appear for a university practical examination, and if declared successful, these students will start their clinical clerkship/internship in the colleges from where they graduated. Foreign students who are successful in the NEXT step 1 examination will have to take up internship in designated hospitals/institutions,” the authors have mentioned.

NEXT Step 2:

The second part of the NEXT examination will be called “NEXT Step 2”, which will test the practical knowledge of the students.

Providing more details, the article has mentioned, “After being declared successful in internship, which will be certified by the mentors, all candidates will appear for the NEXT step 2 examination. These will be based upon the practical knowledge gained during internship.”

The other important factors regarding the NEXT exam, which has promised transparency and high quality in medical education include-

(1) NEXT Step 1 & 2 will be held at the State Health University levels, or centers of excellence, or standard medical education centers where the previous facilities do not exist.

(2) Successful candidates in the NEXT exam will be enrolled in the State/National Medical register.

Speaking to Medical Dialogues team regarding the examination patter, Dr. Aruna V Vanikar, the President of the UGMEB of NMC said, “NEXT exam would be in two parts for all the students. For the students pursuing their education in India as well, the exam would be in two parts. Students studying in India will have to appear in final exams- University practicals and the theory exams which is NEXT part 1. After clearing NEXT part 1 they will have to do the internship and based on the education they receive during the internship, NEXT part 2 would be conducted.”

Further mentioning that the scores of the NEXT part 1 might be used for the PG medical admission, Dr. Vanikar further said that “After the introduction of NEET PG, students get so busy with their PG entrance preparation that they do not put emphasis on the training. With the modified system, the student can work hard and focus only on their internship training.”

Previously, in the draft Postgraduate Medical Education Regulations, 2021, NMC had mentioned that NEXT would serve as the basis for admission to the postgraduate broad specialty courses in each academic year.

The regulations had also mentioned that the NEXT score obtained by the candidates would be valid for a period of 3 years from the date the person has become eligible to be granted a license to practice as a medical practitioner, for admission to postgraduate broad speciality courses. After the expiry of the validity of the marks, the medico will have to appear again for the test and qualify to be eligible for admission to postgraduate broad speciality courses.

Previously, while speaking to Medical Dialogues, Dr. M K Ramesh, the president of the PG medical education board of NMC had confirmed that there would be improvement exam for NEXT every year. So, those students not satisfied with their scores, may appear for the improvement examination next year as well.