Graduate students from nursing and dental backgrounds will get lateral entry into MBBS courses, if suggestions made in the draft National Education Policy 2019 are accepted by the government. According to recommendations made in the draft policy document, the first one or two years of MBBS course will be common for all science graduates after which they can take up MBBS, BDS, nursing or other specialisations.

For admission into postgraduate programmes, the new draft education policy proposes a new centralised exit examination at the end of the fourth year of MBBS courses.

A committee led by Dr K Kasturirangan has already submitted the draft policy to the HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank'.

Here are some recommendations made by the draft national education policy committee.

1) "The first year or two of the MBBS course will be designed as a common period for all science graduates after which they can take up MBBS, BDS, Nursing or other specialisations," the report said. Common foundational courses based on medical pluralism will be followed by core courses focused on specific systems, and electives that encourage bridging across systems, the draft education policy added.

2) "Graduates from other medical disciplines such as nursing, dental etc, will also be allowed lateral entry into the MBBS course. A medical education qualification framework to achieve this will be developed in conjunction with the NMC (National Medical Commission)," the report said.

3) The committee has recommended that on the lines of the NEET exam for entry to MBBS, a common exit examination for the MBBS should be introduced, as was also suggested in the National Medical Commission Bill. The report said the common exit exam will play a dual role as also the entrance examination for admission into postgraduate programmes. "This exit examination will be administered at the end of the fourth year of the MBBS so that students are relieved of the burden of studying for a separate, competitive entrance examinations at the end of their residency period," the report said. It has also recommended similar common exit examinations for dental education and other disciplines.

4) The new draft education policy recommends that BSc Nursing should be made the sole entry-level qualification for nurses in the long term. "However, given the current shortage of nursing staff, a careful decision of when the GNM (General Nursing and Midwifery) course can begin to be phased out, will be made," it said.

5) To increase the intake of students in healthcare sector, the committee has recommended that about 600 district hospitals across India should be upgraded to teaching hospitals at the earliest by investing in infrastructure for targeted medical specialities and in stationing adequately qualified teaching faculty.

The draft policy also recommends more seats at the postgraduate level in healthcare sector. "There is a shortfall in the number of seats in postgraduate courses in many disciplines, particularly in medical education where the number of seats in postgraduate education is only approximately half the number of MBBS seats. These will be increased as quickly as the available infrastructure in hospitals around the country allows," the report said.

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