Monday, April 22, 2024

National Medical Commission: A shot in the arm for medical education

The NMC Act will bring in much-needed reforms in the medical education sector by ensuring probity, bringing down costs, simplifying procedures and enhancing the number of medical seats in India.

By Dr KK Aggarwal

The National Medical Commission (NMC) has come into force from September 25, 2020, thereby repealing the nearly 64-year-old Indian Medical Council Act, 1956. All its bodies such as the Medical Council of India and Board of Governors, which superseded the MCI on September 26, 2018, have also been dissolved.

As a result, the much-awaited NMC will start to function effectively soon to bring reforms in the medical education sector. Last year, the National Medical Commission Act 2019 was passed by both Houses of Parliament.

A gazette notification by the health ministry read: “The Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 (102 of 1956) is hereby repealed with effect from September 25.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.”

Dr Suresh Chandra Sharma, former Head of Department, ENT, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, has been appointed the chairman of NMC for three years, while Dr Rakesh Kumar Vats, ex-Secretary General, Board of Governors, MCI, has been appointed Secretary of NMC for three years. Apart from the Chairman, the NMC will consist of 10 ex-officio members and 22 part-time members appointed by the government.

To ensure transparency, the members will have to declare their assets at the time of joining and demitting office, along with declaring their professional and commercial engagement or involvement. Further, the chairperson/member on ceasing to hold office will not accept any employment for two years in a private medical institution whose matter has been dealt with him either directly or indirectly.

The purpose of the NMC Act, 2019, is to provide for a medical education system that improves access to quality and affordable medical education, ensures availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals in all parts of the country; promotes equitable and universal healthcare that encourages community health perspective and makes the services of medical professionals accessible to all citizens. Further, it promotes national health goals; encourages medical professionals to adopt latest medical research in their work and to contribute to research; has an objective, periodic and transparent assessment of medical institutions and facilitates maintenance of a medical register for India. It also enforces high ethical standards in all aspects of medical services; is flexible to adapt to changing needs and has an effective grievance redressal mechanism. 

The functions of the NMC include: 

  • framing policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals
  • assessing the requirements of healthcare related human resources and infrastructure
  • ensuring compliance by the State Medical Councils of the regulations made under the Bill
  • framing guidelines for determination of fees for up to 50 percent of the seats in private medical institutions and deemed universities which are regulated under the Bill.

The NMC will frame policies and co-ordinate the activities of four autonomous boards.  Each autonomous board will consist of a president and four members, appointed by the central government. These boards are—Under-Graduate Medical Education Board (UGMEB), Post-Graduate Medical Education Board (PGMEB), Medical Assessment and Rating Board (MARB) and the Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB).

Read Also: All about National Medical Commission Bill, 2019

UGMEB and PGMEB Boards will be responsible for formulating standards, curriculum, guidelines, and granting recognition to medical qualifications at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels respectively. MARB will have the power to levy monetary penalties on medical institutions which fail to maintain the minimum standards as laid down by UGMEB and PGMEB. It will also grant permission for establishing a new medical college, starting any post-graduate course or increasing the number of seats. EMRB will maintain a national register of all licensed medical practitioners and regulate professional conduct. Only those included in the register will be allowed to practice medicine. The Board will also maintain a separate national register for community health providers. 

The NMC may grant a limited license to certain mid-level practitioners who may prescribe specified medicines in primary and preventive healthcare. In any other cases, these practitioners may only prescribe medicines under the supervision of a registered medical practitioner.

There will be a uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to under-graduate and post-graduate super-speciality medical education in all medical institutions regulated under the Bill. The NMC will specify the manner of conducting common counselling for admission in all such medical institutions. There will be common final year under-graduate examination called the National Exit Test for students graduating from medical institutions to obtain the license for practice. This Test will also serve as the basis for admission into post-graduate courses at medical institutions.

Under the NMC Act, the final year examination has been converted into a nationwide exit test called NEXT. This single examination will grant—

  • a license to practice medicine
  • an MBBS degree
  • entrance to postgraduate courses.

There is a provision for common counselling for entrance to PG courses also.

Students will be able to get admission to seats in all medical colleges and institutes of national importance like AIIMS, PGI Chandigarh and JIPMER through a single counselling process. The Act does not impose any restriction on the number of attempts at NEXT examination.

An outstanding feature of the NMC Act is that it provides for the regulation of fees and all other charges in 50 percent seats in private colleges as well as deemed to be universities. There was no provision to regulate fees in the Indian Medical Council Act 1956. According to the government, nearly 50 percent of the total MBBS seats in the country are in government colleges, which have nominal fees. Of the remaining seats, 50 percent would be regulated by NMC. This means that almost 75 percent of the total medical seats in the country would be available at reasonable fees.

According to the central government, the NMC Act will reduce the burden on students, ensure probity in medical education, bring down its costs, simplify procedures, help to enhance the number of medical seats in India, ensure quality education and provide wider access to people for quality healthcare.

—The writer is President, Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania, and former National President, IMA

Lead Picture: UNI



  1. I heard that there are 2 exams for NEXT like NEXT 1 and NEXT 2. But here in this article it’s given that it’s a single exam. So, can someone plz clarify whether we have 2 exams or only one exam for NEXT?

  2. Why nmc members alone barred from appointment of any post related to their field for two years after it should be applicable to all post including constitutional post.

  3. First of all ensure proper full time Teaching Faculty in existing Medical Colleges , both in Govt run aswell as in Private Medical Colleges.

  4. First of all ensure proper full time Teaching Faculty in existing Medical Colleges, both in Govt. run aswell as in Private Medical Colleges.

  5. insensitive to reality. Should scrap FMGE for at least 10 years. No objective measurable goals such as at least 6 doctors per 1000 people or at least 20 hospital beds per 1000 population or 50 ventilators per lac population. They should publish minimum health care facilities to be provided by primary, secondary and tertiary health care centres. Should recommend to president go stop medical facilities given to MP s which distinguish them from common man.

  6. 1. Restrict age of retirement of teaching faculty to 60yrs, so that lots of junior aspirants waiting for job and promotions

    2. Private colleges lobby had reduced the staff requirement to 50% by bribing MCI few years back that has affected student teacher ratio

    3. Most of private colleges are not giving regular and optimum salary for months to one year, previously MCI used to see salary details in inspections. This was modified in favour of private lobby by corrupt MCI

    4. In pre and para clinical subjects most of the PG seats are vacant even in government medical colleges because of drastic reduction in staff requirement to 111 for 100 students and 112 for 150 students

  7. NMC is just establishment of dictatorship of central government on the medical education structure ….. It paved the way for the establishment of innumerable low quality private medical colleges all over the country. Govt can at any time include AYUSH in the medical syllabus forcefully.

  8. For foreign student who have completed their one yr internship there ,for them how many exam they have to give Next 1 & Next 2,or only Next 1 & allowed to practice

  9. Hope its not going to be an old wine in a new bottle. Having experienced the autocracy, dictatorship and curruption in MCI, lets hope for the best(BTW, I was an UG and PG teacher for 12 yrs and have left India for all these reasons)

  10. Very good initiative by the new commission. This will help many aspirants as well as the community as a whole country.

  11. This act won’t benefit any medical student in India unless they strengthen the medical infrastructure as well as teaching standards especially in govt medical colleges…
    Already there is fee regulation for 50 percent seats in all private medical colleges..
    According to this ACT they are giving more freedom to private institutions to regulate their own fees for remaining 50percent seats… Which is not beneficial to any student..
    There are only few PG seats available in our country then how every qualified student in NEXT will get pg seat …no answer to this….


    Where the interested people should apply for opening of new medical college n hospital in private capacity

  13. Will the new NMC implement NXT for final year medicos this year. Its learnt that the final MBBS exams not yet conducted in many universities.

  14. It’s true that MCI was ridden with corruption and favoritism. But NMC will be able to get rid of these ..time will tell. NMC needs to take care of important and most essential part of medical education is the Medical teachers..without them it cant achieve its aims and objectives. Medical Teachers are suffering like anything in this country ..less pay, harrassment, exploitation and what not.. NMC must do something positive and uniform to them otherwise it will remain just change in name from MCI to NMC nothing more..

  15. NMC must act quickly on capping of fees for medical and dental PG courses as the admission process for the current academic year has alredy been started. First priority should be given for this.

  16. Kindly consider the PG NEET aspirants ie the seniors who passed out in the previous years. They have been preparing for NEET PG exams as per the existing pattern of the exam. Due consideration should be given to them since few months are only left for NEET PG exam. Rampant changes should not happen for the existing pattern of NEET PG exam atleast for this year. It is a request for not creating panic among PG aspirants during corona pandemic.

  17. 1. What is the way forward for those who have already passed final MBBS for admission in post graduate course ?
    2. Why can’t NMC increase the PG seats at once to stop the brain drain from India ?
    3. What prevents admission of all , each and every qualified doctors from securing admission in PG courses to enhance their knowledge & increase national health ?

  18. But on the contrary fees in MBBS course are increasing like recently Punjab Govt increased fees in Govt & private colleges substantially. Kerla Private colleges is also has huge chances of increase this year & fees in Deemed universities are way higher with start from 8 Lakh to 25 Lakh per year for MBBS course.

  19. What will be the frequency of NEXT exam?
    As many FMGE students have to write the NEXT exam to be eligible to practice in India if the frequency is only once in a year, they may loose time as the passing out time in India and in the foreign countries are different. Just like FMGE exams which was conducted twice a year this should also be conducted twice a year only

  20. Sir we should merge allopathic as wel as ayush students are also studying same subjects as anatomy physiology patho clinical medicine.ent optho surgery gynea etc pharma and of course ayush subjects as they hv knowledge of both allopathic as well as ayush why there is discrimination sir. In covid 19 times also they proved themselves.sir mbbs bums bams bhms.its should come in one word medical graduates.thankyou sir.

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