New medical education regulator NMC comes into force

 The National Medical Commission (NMC) on Friday replaced the Medical Council of India (MCI) as the apex regulator for medical education in India, according to a gazette notification issued by the government.

The board of governors (BoG), which superseded the scam-tainted MCI, has also been dissolved. The 64-year-old Indian Medical Council Act, too, has been abolished.

The NMC Act, 2019, which received the assent of the President on 8 August last year, was touted as one of the biggest reforms in medical education in India.

The commission will be responsible for approving and assessing medical colleges, conducting common MBBS entrance and exit examinations, and regulating course fees. NMC aims to improve access to quality and affordable medical education, and ensure availability of adequate and high quality professionals across the country.

“The Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 (102 of 1956) is hereby repealed with effect from September 25. The BoG appointed under section 3A of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 (102 of 1956) in supersession of the MCI constituted under sub-section (1) of section 3 of the said Act shall stand dissolved,” said the gazette notification issued by the Union ministry of health and family welfare .

Professor Suresh Chandra Sharma, former head of the ENT department at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, has been appointed the chairman of NMC and Rakesh Kumar Vats, secretary general, BoG, MCI, has been appointed the secretary by the appointments committee of the cabinet.

NMC will be an overarching body that will frame policies and co-ordinate the activities of the autonomous boards, including the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board, Post-Graduate Medical Education Board, Medical Assessment and Rating Board, and the Ethics and Medical Registration Board.

One of the mandates of NMC is to look at the cost of medical education. It also provides for a common entrance examination for MBBS, the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET), along with common counselling for all medical institutions in the country. This provision will prevent seat blocking in parallel counselling processes and will eliminate the need for students to approach multiple colleges and take part in multiple counselling processes for admission.

The final year MBBS examination will be a nationwide exit test called NEXT, which will grant a licence to practice medicine, an MBBS degree, and entrance to postgraduate courses.

NEET and NEXT will also be applicable to institutes of national importance such as all the AIIMS, to ensure a common standard in the medical education sector in India.

NMC will also work to regulate fees and all other charges in 50% seats in private colleges, as well as deemed to be universities.

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