Medical internship in Nepal: Students in limbo

Now the question arises‚ 'Why is NMC in no mood to allow Nepali citizens to do their internship even after the appellate court's verdict?' The answer is not difficult to seek. People with vested interests and unhealthy politics do not want this to happen

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RABINDRA DAHAL
Nepali medical students studying abroad should be allowed to do their internship in Nepal. The NMC (Nepal Medical Council) must clear its stance especially when the appellate court has already issued a directive in favour of the students. The sole purpose of establishing NMC was to ensure that students taking medicine courses received quality education whether in Nepal or abroad.

Studying medicine, or any other course for that matter, in a foreign country might not be the first choice for an individual. For instance, we find that every year some 15000-20,000 Nepalese students appear for medical entrance tests conducted by MOE, IOM, KU, BPKH and others, most of them for MBBS.

However, the number of seats provided combining all these institutions (including full and partial scholarship) is not more than 500. The rest of the students are left in limbo either to join private colleges in Nepal which are very expensive, quit the dream of becoming a doctor or enrol in a foreign medical institution.

The idea of joining a foreign medical institution is simple. It’s economical, almost half of the price than what it takes to complete the same course in Nepal and the seats are readily available.

The ready availability of seats is not due to lack of local students or because the medical institution is not up to the standard, but simply because their infrastructure is so huge that the respective country’s medical council allocates them with a bulk of seats often 200 slots in a year, unlike in Nepal where the maximum an institution can have is 60 seats. Furthermore, you do not need to be politically well connected or run from ‘pillar to post’ to get discounts. Normally, most of the medical institutions abroad provide scholarships and grants to attract foreign students and boost their international reputation and presence.

The current figure suggests that till date more than 3,000 Nepalese students are enrolled in foreign medical institutions ranging from Post Graduate to MBBS, BDS and Nursing. Every year 300-400 students apply in Nepal Medical Council to get their ‘Eligibility Certificate’ for studying medicine abroad. Sadly, most of those 15000-20,000 don’t even make it to the foreign institutions due to the acute shortage of funds.

They keep trying hard for almost 3-4 years clinging to a hope that someday they might be able to crack the entrance tests, but very few make it, since every year a fresh wave of +2 graduates enter making it more competitive.

Since English may not be the first language in those countries, there is always a communication gap even if the lectures are held in English. The major problem a student faces is during his/her clinical exposure where they have to interact with the local language-speaking patients admitted in hospitals. Ironically, this is the year where students hone their skills and become complete doctors. All the text learning for years comes to its climax.

Internship must be provided in Nepal and there should not be any debate about it. Ask any doctor new or old, and you will find that majority of them, if not all, agree on it.

Financially, on an average a student spends around 4-5 lakh rupees every year which includes his tuition fee, visa, food and accommodation and other miscellaneous expenses. Letting the student complete his/her internship in Nepal not only makes him a better doctor but also saves the money which was bound to be spent in a foreign land. If we calculate on an average of 400 students then the amount comes to a staggering 200 million rupees annually.

This I suppose is not a small figure for a poor country like ours where most of the time students sell their land or some property to compensate their educational funds.

The Medical Council of India (MCI) has allowed its citizens to complete their internship in India itself. Since they cannot control the staggering tuition fees of Indian instituitions, they simply make it easier for those students who opted for foreign institutions for one reason or the other. Another reason can be clearly understood that MCI wants its doctors to be properly trained for local diseases before they are given the licence to practice. One more reason is to encourage the doctors to stay in India and to stop them from being “brain drained” into other countries by providing them favourable conditions for internship.

Now the question arises, ‘Why is NMC in no mood to allow Nepali citizens to do their internship even after the appellate court’s verdict?’ The answer is not difficult to seek. People with vested interests and unhealthy politics do not want this to happen. Also, there is a fear that if the students are allowed to do their internship then most of the medical institutions in Nepal will gradually lose their business.

It’s high time that NMC should understand the situation and act wisely instead of forcing our educated younger generation to take stern measures like hunger strike and street protests when they should be in hospitals attending to some needy patients.

source: Dhahal, Rabindra (2014),"Medical internship in Nepal: Students in limbo", The Himalayan Times,3 Feb 2014

2014-02-03 | EducateNepal

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