Maximum FMGs to clear screening from Delhi & 3 other states

Around 6,000 FMGs (foreign medical graduates), who clear the screening test annually, struggle to get internships, which are a must for practicing in India. On November 18 last year, the National Medical Commission (NMC) issued a notification that FMGs can do internships only in medical college hospitals and asked that these set aside 7.5% (slashed from 10% earlier) internship seats for them. NMC has also stipulated that FMGs have to complete the internship within two years of passing the screening test.


The hardest hit is FMGs from Tamil Nadu because it accounts for the largest number of them clearing the screening test. “There were just 230 seats available for internship in government colleges in Tamil Nadu while about 600 FMGs were looking for a slot. Many of them have already lost five months in their desperate hunt for internship slots,” said Senthil Kumar, who did MBBS from Russia. Tamil Nadu's chief minister had written to the NMC in January asking for FMGs from the state to be allowed to do internships in government hospitals and to simplify the process to make it easy for FMGs to join internships. There has been no response from the NMC. With extraordinary delays and uncertainty in NEET-PG exams and counseling in the last two years, thousands of medical graduates are trying to leave for the UK and a few hundreds for the US. At the same time, annually over 20,000 FMGs appear for the screening tests held in June and December.

The pass percentage is just around 20% for this notoriously difficult exam. FMGs have to be NEET-qualified to be issued eligibility certificates by the NMC to join a medical course abroad and once back they have to clear the screening test and then complete a one-year compulsory internship, which Indian medical graduates do in their final year. Some of the top medical colleges like AIIMS, JIPMER in Pondicherry, and MAMC in Delhi do not allow FMGs to do internships in their hospitals. Delhi’s RML Hospital allows internships but the demand for a seat is immense with over 750 applicants for 230 seats. RML has so many internship seats available because it is a new medical college in which no batch has yet reached the final year. “FMGs are selected based on interviews. But only those with high-level contacts, like children of bureaucrats, manage to get internship slots there,” alleged an FMG from Tamil Nadu who did medicine from Ukraine.

The maximum number of FMGs who clear the screening test are from Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala. “Private medical colleges ask for large amounts of money to allow students to do internships and even government colleges take fees for internships. Now that NMC has said that they cannot charge for internships, maybe things will change in the government sector, but private colleges will not stop. A private college had asked for Rs 22 lakh for a one-year internship, which is almost equivalent to what I spent on my entire medical education abroad. We already have education loans taken for studying abroad and so this is not a viable option. This forces students to look for slots in other states. There are very few FMGs from Odisha and so there are empty slots, but the language is a barrier when doing an internship,” said an FMG still waiting to find an internship slot in Delhi. States like Maharashtra and Gujarat only allow FMGs from the state to do internships in their colleges.

It takes FMGs about seven to eight years or more to become practicing doctors — about six years to study MBBS abroad, one year to prepare for the screening test and clear it, and then one year of internship, which could become two years or more if they don’t get a slot to. Since 2002, when the screening test was introduced, 2.6 lakh FMGs have appeared for it and over 51,400 have cleared it. While NMC’s notification that medical colleges have to pay FMG interns a stipend equivalent to that paid to interns in state government colleges was a relief, restricting internships to only medical college hospitals might result in them waiting for more than a year for a slot. Instead of it becoming easier for doctors to come back and practice in India, it just got more difficult.