Over 77% of students fail in FMGE 2023 raising concern over FMGs’ competency and clinical skills


The results of the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) 2023 December session were recently released by the National Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences (NBEMS). Of the 38,355 candidates who appeared for the exam, around 30,046 failed. Roughly 77% of the candidates failed the test, and only 22% of the candidates were able to pass. However, the qualifying percentage in the December 2023 session has comparatively increased over the previous sessions.
In 2014, the FMGE pass percentage trend moved downward and recorded a low of 4.93%. However, the average FMGE pass percentage trends have remained between 10-20% over the years.
Common benchmark
The performance of foreign medical graduates (FMGs) and their pass percentage in the Indian licensure exam depend on the country and the institute students choose to complete their MBBS degree. Countries like the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Nepal have been relatively providing better pass percentages than those who have graduated from other countries such as Ukraine, Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, and more, concluded the experts.
However, Anuj Goyal, co-founder, Get My University, states that the competency of FMGs appears low due to the absence of any benchmark. He says, “There is no common all-India licencing exam for Indian medical professionals; hence, there can be no common benchmark to check if the FMGE pass percentage is relatively low. The number of participants in the FMGE includes the majority of the candidates who are appearing for their repeated attempts. After the removal of repeat attempters, the actual number of FMGs who appeared for the FMGE is far less.”
“MBBS students who complete their graduation from any Indian medical institute become licenced practitioners. Once the National Exit Test (NExT) is implemented, India will have actual data to set a benchmark, which will act as a check on the reality of medical education in India as well. However, countries such as the Philippines, Nepal and Bangladesh are some of the few countries that have consistently given the highest pass percentage of around 35% in FMGE,” Goyal adds. Moreover, it becomes critical to draw a comparison between the performance of the countries as the data of students who have qualified for the FMGE is not segregated by the NBEMS. Goyal says, “The board should release the data of students who were able to qualify for the exam on their first attempt and those who appeared for their repeated attempts. Such data will help make country-wise rank chart of foreign medical colleges.”
Reportedly, every year around 10,000 students go abroad to study medical education in countries such as Russia, China, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Georgia, Nepal, Ukraine, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, among others. The average pass percentage of students in Bangladesh in 2015-18 was 27.1%; in 2019, it was 36.2%; and in 2020, it was 35.8%. In China, an average of around 11.7% of the students qualified during 2015-18, 21.2% in 2019, and 12.9% in 2020.
Ravikanth Tummala, founder and CEO of Wisdom Medical Academy, Hyderabad, states that students are deluded by the agents of substandard foreign medical colleges, after which they end up spoiling their careers. He says, “There are two types of colleges abroad: one, where the education, infrastructure, and practical knowledge are of substandard level, and the other are good colleges where the quality of education is comparatively better. Students are naive and are unaware of the quality of education that is imparted at these colleges. Some colleges abroad have agents who provide misleading information to students and admit them to substandard colleges in return for a huge fee.”
Another reason behind the low pass percentage is the aspirations of parents rather than those of students who enrol in medical studies. Tummala says, “Some students choose to become doctors under their parents’ pressure. However, they end up choosing the wrong colleges and waste precious years of their lives, money, and most of all, their careers. There should be counselling for parents as well during the intermediate level of schooling for them to understand their child’s capabilities and interests.”
Lack of basic clinical skills
Over the years, it has been widely discussed that FMGs are dependent only on theoretical knowledge, and their lack of clinical education is one of the leading causes of their low percentage. Dr Rohan Krishnan, national chairman, FAIMA Doctors Association, states that most of the medical institutes in foreign countries do not provide hands-on learning facilities to medical students at the time of graduation, and this gap of practical knowledge is dangerous for any medical practitioner. He says, “NMC cannot lower the difficulty level of FMGE as the exam tests the fundamental knowledge to be a doctor in India which FMGs lack. Hence, the pass percentage in FMGE is low.”
Highlighting that not all countries have similar approaches, he says, “Some countries, such as the Philippines, China, Bangladesh, and Nepal, account for relatively better pass percentages because they provide basic practical skills similar to those in India. These countries also have similar disease patterns due to the hot and humid climatic conditions, population density, easy-to-learn languages, and a stringent education system.” Education Times reached out to Mayuresh Chandrakant Jagtap from Pune, who qualified for the FMGE December 2023 session with 176 marks. He completed his MBBS at Manila Central University in the Philippines. Mayuresh reflected that the medical education at his institute was based on practical exposure which helped him crack the exam.


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