PMDC abolishes ‘exit exam’ for medical graduates of local colleges

ISLAMABAD: After at least two years of efforts and protests, at least 10,000 medical and dental students in Pakistan have finally been exempted from the National Licensing Exam (NLE) – a test that had been declared mandatory by the defunct Pakistan Medical Commission in 2020.

After the PMC announced the exit examination, it triggered unrest among students who said that the commission should ensure the quality of education at medical colleges rather than conducting an exit exam for students to obtain a practicing licence.

A number of protests were organised by students demanding the abolition of the NLE.

After the incumbent government closed down the PMC and restored the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) through a piece of legislation, Minister of National Health Services (NHS) Abdul Qadir Patel announced that all the demands of the students would be accepted.

After it resumed its duties, the PMDC started its registration portal on a priority basis after making necessary arrangements.

As promised by Mr Patel, the PMDC started issuing permanent registration certificates from Feb 8 to doctors who graduated from Pakistani medical and dental colleges without asking them to take the licencing exam.

“Previously, as per the PMC law, the NLE was [supposed to be] undertaken by the doctors who graduated from Pakistan’s approved medical and dental colleges, which was criticised by the doctors’ community throughout the country,” a statement issued by the PMDC read.

In this regard, several protests and demonstrations were held by different doctor forums and organisations, and the PTI government was repeatedly requested to withdraw the ‘black’ law,” it added.

“In this regard, an interactive PMDC online portal has been launched to facilitate doctors throughout the country. On the first day, 1500 registration certificates were issued. The PMDC has also started issuing good standing certificates and renewals,” the statement further said.

The PMDC said it informed all local graduates, approximately more than 10,000, to apply for registration through the portal launched by the council. “These graduates waited for quite a long time to register themselves but failed due to the rigid rules imposed by PMC,” it stated.

PMDC Registrar Dr Suleman Ahmed said that one of the objectives of the PMDC was to make the registration portal in a way that would be user-friendly.

He added that PMDC right after its promulgation ensured that the registration portal should be accurate enough and must be able to secure the storage of confidential information of doctors.

Dr Ahmed said the PMDC also focused on developing a system that provided a secure payment system for application fees besides tracking and managing applications.

He added, as per the PMDC Act 2022, the exam for foreign graduates i.e. National Registration Examination (NRE) has been introduced for Pakistani graduates having undergraduate degrees from foreign institutions.

“Passing the said NRE shall be mandatory for obtaining a full registration. The NRE shall be substantially based on objective computer-based multiple-choice questions and a practical component,” he added.

“We welcome the suggestions of the medical fraternity throughout the country and that we extend full facilitation to reach out and address the grievances of every medical professional and facilitate to the fullest,” Dr Suleman Ahmed said.

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