Reforms in any field are not bad, but they without resources may turn out worst. Recently, on the orders of President Arif Alvi, the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) has replaced the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC).
There is news now that according to the new commission every student after MBBS has to pass national licence examinations (NLE) in order to secure a house job. Another worrisome news is that the NLE will have three steps and one needs to pay fees at all the steps which is about Rs100,000. What will be the consequence of this illogical decision by the government? In public sector medical colleges/universities, which offer admission to only the brightest of the students, a huge number of students are from a low socioeconomic background. These students work hard to get into a medical college on merit to bear the least amount of fees. With this added financial burden in the shape of NLE fees, intelligent students might not be able to secure house job.
Even if someone can afford the examination fees, why will not he/she sit any other board examinations such as USMLE, PLAB, etc., which have validation almost all over the world. Like medical college admission test coaching centres, now we will see NLE preparation centres, which would again make the rich, richer and the poor, poorer. Board examinations are not a bad idea. It is being practiced in many countries, but these countries have made their structure better first. They have better education facilities and less working hours. They ensure doctors’ security and pay a handsome salary to a doctor even during their residency, which is a training period like house job.
Still, if having a board for accountability is so necessary, there should only be one board examination taken in the final professional instead of the university’s own examinations that should have no additional fees. If this situation persists, there will not only be a brain drain in the country. The country will have more scarcity of doctors, because young doctors will migrate to other countries which offer better facilities and later younger generations would rarely choose medicine because of increasing hardships in medicine studies.
Medicine is a tough course in the United States. Therefore, even in the US people hardly choose medicine as career unless they are extremely passionate about it. But they are overcoming doctors’ shortage by offering immigration to doctors from the subcontinent. Such regressive policies in our country will create a serious doctors’ shortage which we would not be able to overcome.