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AIIMS may conduct NExT for MBBS students

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi is likely to conduct the National Exit Test (NExT) — a two-part examination that will act as a qualifying test for granting registration to doctors as well as the basis for post-graduate admissions — slated for later this year.

Teachers associated with different departments of AIIMS are currently working on developing multiple-choice questions for the first part of the test (or NExT 1), which will focus on assessing clinical learning, The Indian Express has learned. According to sources, the National Medical Commission (NMC) has held meetings with AIIMS, although a final notification announcing the premier medical schools as the nodal agency for conducting the exam is still awaited.

The new two-part NExT will replace the existing final theory paper for MBBS students. The first part (or NExT 1) will replace the university-level final examinations. NExT 1 will be the basis for provisional registration with medical councils, which is needed for the one-year mandatory internship. This test will be a multiple choice paper with questions from medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, ENT, and ophthalmology.

“The examination will be oriented towards judging the clinical skills of the students; this is to resolve the problem of students skipping classes to study for NEET-PG. Attendance in final-year courses in many institutes is abysmal because of this. But the NExT pattern will ensure that students will not be able to answer if they do not have practical knowledge gained by attending classes,” said an official from the health ministry.

The second part (or NExT 2) will be a practical paper that will be held after students have completed their internship. It will be a practical test also focused on assessing clinical skills.

The NExT tests will be the basis for admission to postgraduate programmes. However, it is unlikely for the new examination to be used for PG admissions this year as NEET-PG 2023 has already been conducted and counselling is scheduled later this year. Officials in the know of the matter said, “It is too late to use the exam for PG admission this year; students will need some time to prepare for a new format of tests.”

A dean of one of India’s biggest medical colleges said that with final MBBS exams for most colleges in India scheduled over the next two months, NExT 1 will have to be held soon to ensure that NExT 2 can be conducted next year after the one-year internship. Additionally, it will allow the scores to be used to select the next batch of PG students.

The exit test to evaluate the skill levels of doctors across the country on the same standard was proposed under the National Medical Commission Act 2019. The test was to be conducted within three years of the act coming into force in 2020. The National Medical Commission, through a gazette notification, pushed the dates by a year.

“The exam pattern may be different, but the questions will be based on the same course as the final MBBS exams. So, students who have attended classes and studied for their finals should be able to take NExT too,” the dean said. The Indian Express

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